The BIG Lie

By Len Clements © 1993

I hate selling. Loath it. Like most people, I can’t stand the rejection. I’ve been told I’m good at it, and it appears I am, but I would never want to make a career out of it. Knowing this of myself, it begs the question, “why did you get involved with network marketing?!”. Yes, twelve years ago, something got me over this hurdle. For some reason, I got the entrepreneurial spirit and decided to get involved with a business opportunity that involved heavy retailing of products.

It would appear I’m not the only one. In a study we did last year atMarketWave, we asked 136 current and ex-distributors what they disliked the most about MLM. The most common answer? Nope, not meetings. Not ethics or company failures. It wasn’t stock-piling or front-end loading. It was selling! People didn’t want to have to go out and sell anything. Actually, 83% of those surveyed included this among their top three answers. Amazing.

So what would posses, what must be millions of people who hate selling, or think they can’t sell, to go out and jump into a business that demands constant, effective selling skills?

The money? Sure, to some extent. But I think we should give a little credit to the American public. Most folks realize that, sure, there is the potential to make obscene wealth in MLM, but what they really expect is to earn a nice comfortable living, or just some extra spending money. And the wealth could be months or years away. Years of selling.

Actually, the answer is quite obvious. Most of these people have been convinced, at least in the beginning, that to be successful in MLM you don’t have to sell anything. You get other people to sell for you!

Thinking back to my early days in MLM (with a company calledNature Slim) that is exactly what I was told. If I build this giant organization of distributors, I’ll get bonuses off of all their sales. All I have to do is buy the product for myself. The problem is, all those people in your downline are being told the same thing!

Today, we see all kinds of opportunities claiming “no selling necessary”. They encourage distributors to just buy and consume the products themselves, or for their families. In some states, this is technically illegal (although seldom pursued, unless provoked). And what exactly do you call promoting your opportunity? That area of your business probably involves the most selling skill of all.

And how about selling someone on the idea that they can be successful in the “direct selling” industry, without having to sell anything?

I hear companies claim that their video or audio will “do the selling for you”. Okay. How does the video convince someone to watch the video?

Or how about this one. “It’s not selling — it’s sharing“. Right. “Here, I’d like to share some of this wonderful skin cream with you. That’ll be $19.95”.

My all time favorite is, “the products sell themselves”. To this day, I’ve never seen a bar of soap call up one of my neighbors and invite itself over for a swim. Not once.

Some programs claim no selling is required, and they’ll even do all the recruiting for you. The only downlines they really build, are theirs! There’s just no free lunch.

Now, I realize that there are extremely “retail” oriented companies out there. Yes, they encourage hard work, and the heavy retailing of their products or services. That’s how they make their money, and keep Attorney Generals off their back. The distributors, however, seem to have a different agenda. Many of them will go out of their way to make sure their prospect doesn’t hear the company message. That would turn off that 83% that just wants to sit back while their downline does the work for them. Those that don’t want do any selling.

Actually, I shouldn’t lump all those people who hate the task of selling the products into this group. There are many distributors who feel that retailing is a mundane chore that will result in little more than a car payment. Recruiting, however, builds fortunes. So they blast their opportunity pitch at everyone in sight. They have no problem selling the sizzle. The retailing, again, they leave to “other people”.

Many people ask me, why do a select few individuals seem to make MLM work for them, on a monster scale, almost like magic, while most of us just flounder away? Well, a select few individuals are super-salespeople, and most of us aren’t!

All of this may seem as if I’m suggesting that we should all still be heavily retailing, even if we could personally consume to meet our quotas. Not at all. Actually, I like the personal consumption angle. I’m simply suggesting that, regardless of how the opportunity is structured, something must get sold! If not a product, then an idea, a concept, or a dream. To lead anyone to believe otherwise is… a big lie!

Don’t be discouraged by all this if you feel you are one of those that can’t, or dislike selling. MLM can still work for you. I’m certainly one of you, and if any of the companies I was involved with during the eighties had stayed in business, I may very well be a rich man today (although it certainly has provided a wealth of knowledge). Take some time to build your confidence. Acquiring selling skills can come naturally, in time. Taking a comfortable, slower, more passive approach to your opportunity will delay your success, surely, but better to succeed slowly than fail fast.