10,000 UNRECRUITED Heavy Hitters

And no one is Calling Them

By Len Clements (c) 1998

Several months ago I received a call from one of my downline distributors inquiring about a good “MLM list.” Bob then asked specifically if a list of “heavy hitters” existed and how I might approach them. My response was something to the effect of “Bob, why would you want a list of people who are the least likely to want to join your opportunity?” After all, heavy hitters are people who are making huge monthly incomes (that’s why they call them heavy hitters, right?). I’d assume they like making huge monthly incomes and probably would not be too interested in walking away from it and starting over from scratch.

“But Len, think about it,” Bob persisted. “Just imagine if I could have recruited…”. Bob then reeled off the names of three major heavy hitters, all well known throughout the industry (however, we’ll just call them Mark, Jim and Ken). Bob began to fantasize about the great wealth to be had by recruiting the likes of even oneof the three mega-earners he listed.

Well, I happen to know Mark, Jim and Ken personally, to varying degrees, and I know their story. Ironically, all three of these men claim to have once had a strong skepticism towards network marketing and at one time felt it was something they would never consider being involved in. Yet today, they are three of the richest, most successful network marketers in the country — as are their uplines!

“Exactly!,” Bob exclaimed. “So how do we sign up people like that?”

Mark, Jim and Ken were, at one time, not network marketers. Obviously. The lucky folks who personally sponsored these three didnot do so by scrolling though existing heavy hitter lists. They worked hard on opening the minds of people who they thought had a lot of potential, got them to consider network marketing, and today they are set for life.

You see, there are about 5 million people involved in MLM in this country today. There are about 285 million who are not. This means there are literally thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of Marks, Jims and Kens roaming around this country who, right now, are very skeptical of network marketing who think they’ll never be involved in it — who’ll someday make somebody a million dollar income! Thousands of them!

Personally, I think the very best network marketers are not involved in network marketing yet. Mark, Jim and Ken are only the best out of the 5 million who are involved. The odds are there are many people among the 285 million who are not that are far betternetwork marketers then even they are!

Today, there is a constant ebb and flow of distributors from company to company — those who migrate like Gypsies from program to program always looking for the better deal. And this segment of the MLM population is huge. The result is that many companies increase in sales volume and distributor count each month, but it’s usually at the expense of another MLM program. There are a number of examples of companies that experienced growth in 1995 that came primarily from the fall out of another MLM company. The People’s Network grows — Quorum shrinks. Pre-Paid Legal grows at the expense of The People’s Network. When Matol saw huge defections a few years ago, most went to New Vision, which is where all the Natural World distributors were just merged into as well. Usana grows, Växa shrinks. Likewise with Life Plus’s growth in 1994, which came at the expense of Kaire and Sterling Health. Gold Unlimited goes away, a dozen other gold and silver programs get a jump start. The examples are endless.

Really, no company has experienced legitimate momentum in the last five years. Not like Herbalife in 1983, or NSA in 1987-88, or Nu Skin in 1991. Or, to a lesser extent, Quorum and Melaleuca in ’92 and ’93. The point here is that these companies created this momentum by bringing in massive amounts of new distributors from outside the industry. And as a result, the industry grew as well.

But not today, at least not like in the eighties and very early nineties. Today, everybody seems to be into retreading existing distributors over and over and dreaming about landing the big heavy hitter. The industry has become a sluggish, lazy one filled with a lot of spoiled opportunist looking for something for as close to nothing as possible. And the opportunities available to them have exploited and perpetuated this to no end. Where there was once an industry made up of merit based opportunities that rewarded those who worked hard, retailed, and actually trained and supported their downline, there is now an industry full of fluff programs with token products that will basically sell you the farm for a small monthly personal purchase. Again, the point being that recruiting “outer circle” people (those not involved in MLM) is hard work, and so few MLMers today are into working hard.

Why is it so hard? Because outer circle recruitment involves a two, and usually three phase process — and the first two steps are very tough ones.

Step one is to open the mind of your prospect as to the possibility of just starting a home based business. Based on surveys performed by MarketWave in 1989-91, 85% of all Americans who do not own their own business do have the desire to be entrepreneurs. When polled as to the reasons why they do not pursue this desire, the four most common reasons were: Takes too much money, takes too much time, too much risk, I don’t know how. Understand, this means that over 200 million people in this country want to be self employed who are not — and for reasons that do not apply to network marketing! Nonetheless, these are powerful objections and ones that must be overcome before an outer circle prospect would even consider your opportunity.

Once the prospect has excepted at least the possibility that there might be a type of business which overcomes all of their concerns, you must then “confess,” if you will, that it is called network, or multilevel, marketing. At this point, you will very likely have to address the stigma that surrounds this industry and/or at the very least, educate the prospect on what MLM is and how it addresses their entrepreneurial concerns. The greatest challenge here will likely be that what you are proposing will sound too good to be true! This may actually create even more skepticism regarding MLM in general. So step two is to legitimize the industry as a whole.

(Gratuitous plug: These first two steps are the basis for my Case Closed! cassette tape. See below.)

So to recruit outer-circle prospects, the first step is to open their mind to starting their own business, the second step is to remove all the garbage about MLM that may be in their, and the third step is to then pour new information in — by finally presenting your specific opportunity. And as I said, steps one and two may be the most difficult to complete. So, wouldn’t it be so much easier to just find folks who are already involved in MLM, who’ve gotten past steps one and two, and just convince them that your products are better and your compensation plan will pay them more? I mean, why go through all the trouble of taking them through steps one and two when someone else has already done the tough part for you?

Because — if you don’t, this industry will not grow, your downline will be forever turning over as these transient MLMers move on to the next “better” deal, and — you will never recruit a heavy hitter!

There are thousands of them out there. Get out there and recruit one! Or, recruit three!!!

How to Add 1,000 People to Your Downline

Each and Every Week – Seriously!

By Len Clements © 1996

I was exploring the internet jungle a few weeks ago when I stumbled upon what appeared to be an open MLM forum, however it had pretty much been taken over by distributors for one dominant opportunity. Dare any member from a subordinate MLM species wander into their domain and there would be a frenzy of activity to see who could convince the newcomer that their MLM program was superior — and from the looks of their on-line conversations, they were succeeding.

The lure wasn’t the promise of quick and easy wealth, for there was actually little mention of high incomes. Nor was it the miraculous benefits of their amazing product line. Instead, they were trading recruiting figures. Massive recruiting figures.

One had recruited eleven people his first day in the business. Another claimed she built a downline of over 3,500 by her second month. Yet another claimed the company as a whole had gained over 180,000 distributors since January. And yes, one even claimed he had “personally recruited 100 people in a single day!”

This would all be very impressive — if I could pay my rent with distributor applications.

It’s fascinating how the marketing trends in this industry evolve from year to year. In 1991 and ’92 everyone bragged about how much their top earners were making. In 1993 and ’94 everyone was hyping their company’s total monthly sales or sales growth. And around the middle of this time span I remember there was a short lived phase where the age of a company seemed most important. Today, everyone’s talking about how many distributors their company has. It seems we’ve now entered a phase in the cycle where what is actually the least important factor is now considered the most important!

To create a marketing advantage, the “in” thing now seems to be how to redefine “distributor” so as to claim the highest possible number of them. For example, the above MLM program, along with several others now entering make-believe momentum, all have a free sign up system via an 800-number (In fact, in some of these programs you can even sign up distributors without them knowing you did it.) So, retail customers now routinely sign up as “distributors” to get the product at wholesale.

Several companies now allow their distributors to sign up their spouse, or any family members, and some even allow you to sign yourself up as many times as you wish! While others, like the above mentioned company, technically forbid such practice, their distributors are doing it anyway and without consequence. So while they may only gain 200 actual distributors next month, they may be able to claim an increase of over 1,000 distributorships.

The technique used above is to simply give out sequential ID numbers to anyone who orders even a single product, one time, and to all the positions occupied by each distributor. Then, call each ID number a “distributor.”

Another way to make sure that this number always increases is to never purge your inactive distributors. Technically, a company can’t terminate a person for not ordering product (while MLM companies, like any direct sales company, can require a sales quota to earn commissions, they can’t require a product purchase just to maintain distributor status). Instead, most will place non-ordering distributors in an “inactive” file and simply remove them from the distributor hierarchy. Some, however, will continue to count these people in their total distributor figure since they are, technically, still distributors.

Most MLM companies have some sort of annual renewal process where a small administration fee is charged, or at the very least a reapplication process. This is to weed out the dead wood. Of course, if you omit this process, as some are, and inactive distributors are still technically considered in the program, then essentially they are “distributors” for life! No matter how many quit, the “total distributor” figure will always be climbing. What’s more, the company can now claim a “zero percent attrition rate!”

And it would be true — technically.

MLM programs that employ a binary compensation plan have a unique advantage in this area that’s exclusively their own. In a binary, one person can potentially occupy numerous “income centers.” I know of at least two such companies they are currently claiming a “total distributor” figure based on the total number of income centers. Fortunately, most of the binary plan contingent have not followed suit.

So here’s the formula to build a “one-million distributor company” within five years:

1. Allow anyone to sign up for free, over the phone.

2. Count product customers as distributors, even if they only order once and you never hear from them again.

3. Allow them to sign up as many times as they wish, or at least disallow it and look the other way.

4. Allow them to sign up any and all family members.

5. Never purge your company database of inactive distributors.

(Or, you can just not reveal your total distributor figure and just let your distributors “estimate.” That should at least double the actual amount.)

Just imagine if Amway would adopt the previous criteria when defining “distributor.” They could easily claim to have 100-million of them by now! In fact, I recently saw an ad for a popular MLM program with the headline “Over 250,000 people have joined (blank) International!” Of course, the ad doesn’t mention that well over half of them are no longer distributors.

Semantics plays a very important role in the MLM industry today. By changing the standard definition of various aspects, companies today can create the illusion that they are in what ever stage of growth they desire. Want to sound like a “ground floor opportunity?” Just say you’re in “pre-launch” — even if you’re in your second year of business. Want to sound like a mature, stable company? Count all the years you thought about starting an MLM operation and then claim “ten years in development” — even if you launched yesterday. Want to sound like you’re entering a massive momentum stage? Count every single person who contacts your company, for any reason, as a distributor — then heavily promote how many distributors are joining each month.

Several years ago, this same logic was used by the second baseman on my Little League team. After losing the final game of the season by a goodly margin, and all but three of the previous seventeen games, this curly-haired little seven year old attempted to comfort me by exclaiming, “Ya’ know, coach, not counting the games we lost, we were UNDEFEATED!”

This also reminds me of the debate regarding whether the legalization of drugs would effect the crime rate. Advocates of this idea claim it would drop it dramatically. Of course it would! If you make fewer things illegal, they’ll be fewer laws broken. Hey, why don’t we just declare everything legal? Then we would have virtuallyno crime!

So, let’s get to the big question: How can you, personally, recruit 1,000 distributors a week, every single week? Simple. Get your company to employ the following recruiting system: You walk up to someone on the street, tap them on the shoulder twice with the index finger of your right hand, and say “I dub thee a distributor.” That’s it!

Think about the possibilities. You could literally recruit a thousand new distributors each day if you found a busy intersection in a major city. And if you trained just a handful of people in your downline to do the same, you could build an organization over 100,000 within days! And, of course, your company could easily claim to have over one-million distributors within just a few short weeks.

There is one small catch however. No one will make even one dime in commissions.

Okay, so now your upset with me. You read this article expecting to actually discover how to recruit 1,000 people a week. Well, I delivered. I explained exactly how to do that. Hopefully, I also explained the difference between “people” and “serious, active distributor.”

MLM Defense (aka MLM Judo)

By Len Clements © 1999

In practically every competitive endeavor, whether it be sports, business, law, politics, or even, one could argue, life, there are two forces that we summon to defeat our opponent. We offer up an offense – and a defense. In most types of sports the delineation between, and the need for each, is obvious. Take away the defensive players from any football team and you will lose every contest, no matter how many touchdowns you score. Baseball, hockey, basketball, and many other sports all involve points for and against. In some sports defense is the key element. Eliminate defense from professional boxing and you’d have, well, very short boxing matches and very few professional boxers. At least, ones that can still feed themselves. In business, advertisers don’t always tell us just why we should buy their brand, they often include reasons we should not buy a competitors brand. In law, defense is paramount since the burden of proof is on the prosecution (the offense) and all the defense has to do is create a slight doubt in the minds of the jury. In politics I consider offense to be the presentation of all the reasons why a candidate should be elected. Political defense would be, as it is in sports, the attempt to impede the progress of an opponent. Not only is this a key element of any election process, some candidates seem to base their entire campaign on why you shouldn’t vote for the other candidate, rather than why you should vote for themselves.

And, yes, one could make a case that there is an offensive and defensive aspect to practically every decision we make in our daily lives. Every decision, no matter how small, is designed to either avoid pain and/or gain pleasure. We naturally tend to move towards what we desire and away from what we detest. The proverbial “Carrot and the stick.” In this case both the offense and the defense is within us. You offer them both (a la the devil and angel sitting on each shoulder) and base your decision on who wins the debate.

Let’s try an experiment, right now. I’m going to describe the occupation of an individual and I want you to visualize that person in an action pose. Don’t think about it, just take note of the first image that pops in your mind. Ready?

Football player. Basketball player. Boxer. Soldier in combat. You, looking at a big slice of your favorite flavor of cake.

Now, think back. Were the images offensive or defensive? Did you picture a quarterback ready to throw a pass, or a fullback running with the ball? The vast majority do (I’ve performed this test many times before). Was the basketball player taking a shot (almost always), or blocking the shot (almost never)? Was the boxer throwing a punch? I’ve never, ever, had someone tell me they visualized a guy cowering in the corner with his gloves covering his face. Was the soldier in attack mode, or was he crouched in a fox hole? Did you see yourself looking at the cake wide eyed and drooling, or head turned away with arms outstretched, shunning the temptation? Come on, be honest.

In spite of the fact that defense is such a vital part of practically every aspect of our lives, we are certainly an offensive focused society. We want to score points, not prevent them. And we want to score a lot of them.

So, what is MLM defense? Unfortunately, it is, at least currently, a lot like it is in politics. As more and more candidates devote more and more time to mud slinging and self-serving hype, so are network marketers. And, as more and more disillusioned Americans vote “none of the above” at the polls, our MLM prospects are reacting in much the same way.

What MLM defense should be, and what it hardly ever is, or is ever taught to be, is a dignified, professional, factual presentation of the benefits that your MLM program has over a specific competitor, and the debunking of alleged benefits posed by your competition when those benefits are, in fact, exaggerated or illusionary.

Hype is a primary tool in the recruiting process of many, and arguably most, network marketers today. Almost every prospect you contact will be evaluating other opportunities as well as yours. Therefore, you have an opponent in this process – and they may not play fair. They may relate bogus, or even slanderous information to your prospect about your opportunity (more on that later), or positive information about their own program that may involve some degree of hype. If you can defend against this, and at the same time offer a powerful offense (what’s good about your opportunity), then you have twice as powerful a presentation. While you’re scoring points, you’re preventing your opponent from scoring. It’s like a scale. Doesn’t it make sense that you’d have a far better chance of tipping the scale in your favor if you not only added weight to your side, but legitimately removed weight from the other?

When an opponent is hyping your prospect, you have three options. One; ignore them and continue to present a hype-free, realistic depiction of the benefits of your MLM program – and take the risk of losing the prospect to the hype, or two; have a hype contest to see who can out-hype who – and even if you win your prospect will discover the truth eventually and end up just as much not in your downline as if they hadn’t enrolled in the first place (only now they walk away feeling scammed), or three; stick to your honest, realistic presentation about your company and defend yourself against the hype.

I realize there’s sometimes a fine line between what’s honorable MLM defense and what’s gratuitous competition bashing. The best way to audit yourself is to ask yourself this simple question: Can I prove my statement? In other words, are you saying something you can be accountable for? Can you back it up? For example, if a competitor claims their plan “pays infinitely deep,” you should be able to prove both mathematically and logically that this claim is completely false. Don’t go so far as to suggest infinity bonuses are wrong or bad, because they are not. Just explain why they aren’t as good as your competition is claiming. Or, what if your prospect is impressed by huge income claims made by a competing distributor? (There’ll be a whole section in my book on the specifics of how to defend against this, but for now just know that you can and must defend against it). Don’t allow your prospect to be swayed by meaningless information. Force your competition to stick to the genuine merits of their opportunity.

You can also use this same “proof” question as a defensive weapon. For example, if someone tells your prospect that they shouldn’t join your company because “they’re going down,” or “nobody’s making any money,” or “they’re being investigated,” ask your prospect to ask your competitor this question: “Would you please put that in writing and sign your name to it?” Then watch them back peddle! When they refuse (which they always will), ask your prospect why they wouldn’t do this if they were certain of their claim? Demand that they be accountable for their derogatory remarks. Demand that they reveal how they know what they are saying it true. Of course, they rarely can, which greatly diminishes not only the impact of their mud slinging, but can dramatically reduce the credibility of everything else they say.

I could try to give you more examples of statements you could defend against, but I won’t for no other reason than lack of space. Besides, my book is chocked full of them (as is my newsletter). Secondly, I can pretty much summarized practically every MLM pitch ever given: “We have the best products… the best support system… the most lucrative compensation plan… and the company is debt free and about to go into momentum” That’s it. Now, when your competitor says this to your prospect, ask your prospect to ask your competitor, “How do you know all these things are true?” That’s MLM defense.

If you’re going to back up your claims about your company, then you have every right to demand the same from your competition.

The A-B-C Technique

By Len Clements © 1994

Would you ever try to pour hot coffee into a thermos with the lid still on? Could you put a video cassette into your VCR if it already had a cartridge in it? Of course not. Unfortunately, the way that most people prospect for MLM partners makes about as much sense.

For many years, we’ve all been taught to call up our friends and try to get them to come to an opportunity meeting, or at least read some information or watch a video about our MLM opportunity. To do anything different would be going against the number one commandment of our industry – duplicate what works. In other words, “Thou shalt not try to reinvent the wheel”. I’m certainly not about to suggest otherwise. However, I do believe there are very effective ways of making the wheel roll a little smoother and a little faster.

First and foremost, we must remember that when you propose your opportunity, you are offering a business opportunity. A chance at being a true entrepreneur. Secondly, you are proposing your prospect get involved with multi-level marketing. In other words, you have at least one, and probably two, major challenges here. Challenges you must overcome before you can even think about proposing your specific opportunity. Challenges that, nine times out of ten, are the main reason why your prospect won’t even look at your opportunity.

Surveys indicate that about 85% of all working Americans would like to own their own businesses, if they could. In other words, if all obstacles were removed, they would prefer to be their own boss rather than work for someone else. This amounts to approximately 160 million people! These are your MLM prospects. Now, when 160 million people want to do something and don’t do it, there must be a good reason. When they are asked, they usually come up with these four.

It takes too much money. I don’t have thousands of dollars to invest in a business.

It takes too much time. I don’t want to work 80 hours a week to get my business going.

Too risky. Over 80% of all businesses fail in the first two years.

I don’t know how. I’ve never taken any business courses. I don’t know anything about taxes, accounting, marketing, etc.

I can assure you, if your prospect is not currently operating their own business, they have considered the possibility at some time in their lives. They have also determined all the reasons why they can’t (probably all four reasons). Therefore, before you even start to offer your MLM opportunity, you might want to dispel, at least slightly, these beliefs about why they can’t go into business for themselves.

Let’s say you are having lunch with your friend and you casually mention the fact that you are thinking about starting your own business. Then you ask if they have ever considered it. Sure, they have considered it at some time or another. Well, why didn’t you, you ask. They will inevitably respond with one or more of the previous four reasons.

Now comes the fun part. You ask them if they would ever consider going into business for themselves if; the total start up costs were under $500 and the income potential was higher than the earnings of some CEO’s of fortune 500 companies; the total time investment could be as little as 10-20 hours a week; they could continue to work in their present job until the income from their business was sufficient to earn them at least an equal income, so there is little risk; and best of all, there were numerous consultants available to them who are experts at running this business, who would train and advise them personally, for an unlimited number of hours, for the life of their business, absolutely free! Not only that, you say, but there is another company that will take care of all your research and development, shipping, payroll, payroll and sales taxes, legal problems, and so on. And, this company will do this for them every month, for the life of their business, for around $20.00 a year.

Of course, your friend won’t believe any of this. Ask them if they would consider it if all this were true. Most likely they’ll say something like, “Well, sure. But there’s got to be a catch”. Is there? Is this not an exact description of your basic MLM business opportunity? Is any of this even an exaggeration? No. You’ve just completed step “A” of the “ABC” technique.

Now, for the first time during this conversation, you will suggest that this type of business involves “network” or “multi-level” marketing. But don’t get into your specific opportunity yet. There still may be a major hurdle yet to overcome. You still have step “B” to take care of.

There are basically three types of people you are going to come across during your recruiting efforts. First, the cynic or skeptic. They believe MLM’s are all scams, get-rich-quick schemes, illegal pyramids, involve door-to-door and home party sales, and so on. One person I know even referred to them as “cults”. For whatever reason, these people have a low opinion of MLM in general. The second type are those that don’t know anything about MLM. Perhaps only that it’s “something” like a pyramid, or that they’ve at least heard of AMWAY or Mary Kay. The third, unfortunately smallest, group are those that are naturally intrigued by the concept. Usually these are people who were originally in the second group who heard about someone who made a lot of money doing MLM. By the way, if you find someone in this group, skip step “B”. This step is presenting the MLM concept as a viable, honest form of business. This usually involves explaining what MLM is not, not what it is.

“You must open your prospect’s mind
before you can pour anything into it”

Step “B” could be an entire column unto itself. Basically, you may want to mention that there are well over five-million people in the U.S. that are pursuing this form of business. Also, throw out names like Rexall, MCI and US Sprint, which all involve MLM as a means of obtaining new customers. Briefly explain the obvious difference between an illegal pyramid and a legitimate MLM company. When I pursued this business (before I was forced to be “objective”) I would always include favorable articles about the MLM industry in general. You may want to lead in with a generic video or audio cassette, that serves to only legitimize the industry, not promote any particular opportunity. Whatever you can do to give the industry more credibility, do it now.

Once these first two “preparation” steps are completed, you should then hand your prospect the video or literature about your opportunity. Challenge them to find the catch. Tell them you can’t, even though you thought it was too good to be true too. Instead of trying to get them to find out what all the good things there are about your program, encourage them to find all the bad things! Challenge them to debunk it. Let’s face it. Someone would be much more likely to watch a video if it were for the purpose of justifying their negative beliefs, than to contradict them. It’s human nature.

The bottom line is this. The real trick to successful recruiting in any MLM organization is not convincing someone who has looked at your opportunity to get involved with you, it’s getting them to just look at the opportunity. Don’t you agree? Let’s face it, once someone seriously looks at a good MLM opportunity, it’s pretty hard to not be at least a little intrigued. Unfortunately, 9 out of 10 won’t seriously look. Actually, I’d guess 5 of 10 won’t look at all! You’ve got to get them to just look. If you’ve got a good opportunity, the rest will take care of itself.

A good analogy here would be the thermos and the VCR. Like the thermos, you must open your prospects mind before you can pour anything into it. And like the VCR, there may already be something in there that you might have to remove first. To borrow an analogy from Anthony Robbins (Robbins Research), it’s as if your beliefs have legs like a chair. Only these legs are usually solid steel instead of wood. Believe me, people’s beliefs as to why they can’t go into business for themselves, and sometimes what they believe MLM to be, are solid beliefs. If you don’t do something to at least weaken those legs before you come in with your new belief, forget it. It will bounce right off.

I’m certainly not suggesting that this “ABC” technique is going to knock down those legs (although it could). But if you can at least instill some doubt in the mind of your prospect, some spark of interest, or at least pessimistic curiosity, you’ve made a major gain.

I also realize this technique lends itself to certain situations better than others. For example, this technique might be a little more difficult to pull off if you do a lot of long distance sponsoring. But it’s still not impossible. Put it in writing, or better yet do your own audio tape.

For the last 30 or so years, in almost every MLM organization, we’ve all been taught to go straight to step “C”. Contact your prospect and propose your MLM business opportunity. “MLM” and “business” may be scary propositions, and needlessly so. Steps “A” and “B” are designed to reduce or eliminate this stigma, so you can bring more prospects to step “C”. Get them to look!

The Quintessential Qualifying Question

By Len Clements © 2002

You have a prospect.  Now what?  Should you lead with the opportunity, or the product?  If so, which product?  Do they want to lose weight, look younger, or have more energy?  Or are they looking for more money, and if so, how much?  Great wealth, or maybe it’s time freedom their really after and all they want is to make enough so they can quit their job.  Or, perhaps just enough to make a car payment.  What should you lead with?  What should you focus on?

Why not ask them?

One of the greatest challenges with the proverbial “simple, duplicatable system” is that many are too simplified.  By employing a no-brainer, cookie cutter system of finding, qualifying, and closing prospects we’re essentially shooting at a target with our eyes closed.  Sure, repeating the exact same scripted presentation, sending the exact same info-pack, and providing trite, prefab responses to every objection (or worse, just sending everyone to the exact same web site) is certainly simple, and quite duplicatable – and utterly ineffective.  Yes, opening your eyes and aiming at the target does take a little more work, that’s true.  But it’s not rocket science, and you’ll hit the target ten times more often!

Of course, it is a bit awkward to call a prospect, introduce yourself, then ask, “So, Bob, what would you like me to lead with?”  That probably wouldn’t work very well either.  But there is one, simple, tactful, qualifying question you can kick off any prospecting call with.  A question that will provide you with all the information you’ll ever need in locating the unique bulls eye for each prospect, and they’ll never even know that’s what you’re trying to do.

Just ask them (insert drum roll here…), “Have you ever been involved in network marketing before?”

At this point your prospect must give you one of three possible answers:  No, I’ve never been (or perhaps the equivalent response, “What’s that?”); or, “Yes, I was once, but not anymore;” or, “Yes, I am right now.”  Each has attached to it an obvious follow up question (no script necessary for this system).  If they responded that they have never been involved before, ask what sparked their interest now (we’re assuming for the moment that you’re dealing with folks who have expressed some interest, in some manner, in at least some kind of MLM or home based business).  If they said they were involved in MLM before, but not now, ask them what happened before.  If they claim they are currently involved in an MLM program, you’ll want to know why they are looking for something different (or, are they looking for something in addition to it?).

After your second tier of questioning, just sit back, listen, and take notes.  Your prospect will now reveal exactly what they want you to lead with.

If they said they were involved in the past, but lost their downline when the company went out of business, should you lead with your fantastic new energy drink, or the power of your compensation plan’s matching bonus, or perhaps should you focus on the stability of your company?  What if they said the company they are involved in right now has lousy sales tools and their sponsor is providing no support.  Company stability, great products, lucrative comp plan – or your company’s wonderful sales aids, your upline’s effective training tools, and all the love, encouragement and support you’re going to provide them?  You don’t have to wonder – they just told you.

What if they respond to your first question with “What the heck is network marketing?”  Or with the dreaded “Aren’t those all pyramid schemes?”  You could safely assume here that they’ve probably never been involved in MLM before, and you may want to postpone any discussion pertinent to your specific opportunity, take a giant step backwards, and begin by defining or defending the general concept of multilevel marketing.  By the way, in the vast majority of cases you’ll be defining, not defending.  This is a vital and often skipped step in the process of recruiting MLM-ignorant prospects (less I offend anyone, ignorant means a lack of knowledge, not intelligence).  There’s more detail on exactly how to handle this scenario in the article titled “The ABC Technique” on my web site.

What you’re ultimately going for here is to determine what the prospect is looking for.  Of course, you could just ask “What are you looking for?”  But with this “Have you ever been involved…” approach you’ll not only eventually derive the same information, you’ll also get valuable insights as to what their concerns are.  So not only are you defining specific targets to aim for, you’re mapping out land mines to avoid.

Again, take copious notes of the conversation.  Capture the key sound bites and record them on index cards (literally or virtually).  Not only will it reveal what to lead with during this initial call, but also how you may want to customize the information package you send them, handle their future objections, and focus on in follow up calls.  If you eventually do a 3-way call with your sponsor, he or she should be provided with your intel as well.

This even works well with prospective prospects who have not yet expressed any interest.  If you’re having lunch with a friend, just ask the unassuming question, “Bob, have you ever heard of network marketing?”  In the event Bob responds with only a “Yes” answer, dig an inch deeper with the more specific “Have you every tried it?”

This approach also works well when leaving messages on your prospect’s answering machine, which they always quickly return, right?  Yeah, right.  This is one of the most common lamentations among MLM distributors throughout the history of, well, answering machines.  Prospects rarely return calls.  That’s because, most likely, they are expecting a long, heavy handled sales pitch.  So what if, on your message, you said you wanted to give them some “free information so I don’t have to explain everything over the phone” but before doing so you wanted to “take only about five minutes to ask you a couple quick questions about yourself.”  Not only have you established the fact that you are not going to pitch them on this first, prequalifying call, but you’ve established a precedent as to how the business is done.  You’ve created the impression with your prospect that, should they get involved, they too won’t have to give prospects the hard sell.  What’s more, rather than ask them to call you back to listen to a sales pitch (akin to asking them to volunteer for an unnecessary root canal), you’re instead requesting that they do something us humans inherently love to do – talk about themselves!  Try this approach. You’re call back rate will skyrocket.

Imagine you’re standing in a shooting gallery.  One target is labeled “Time freedom.”  Another says “Lose Weight” while another reads “More Energy.”  The target right in the middle has “Get Rich” painted on it, while yet another says only “Comfortable Living.”  There’s even one that says “Personal Growth.”  And surrounding these targets are dozens and dozens of others.  Hit the right one and your prospect signs up – but which one?  Don’t just assume it’s the easy center shot (in deed, for the vast majority of your prospects, “Get Rich” isn’t it, and if hit too often or too hard may even cause you to lose points).  Don’t guess, or shoot randomly hoping if you take enough shots you’re get lucky.

Just ask.  They’ll love to tell you.