Have you ever wanted to own your own business? Lots of people dream of owning their own business, but it’s not very often they want to build a sales company. Selling is a time consuming, technical job. It requires a lot of training, both on the product being sold and in the techniques of research, demographic modelling, writing, negotiation and client management.
Unfortunately for most people, whatever business they start, selling becomes the biggest part of their job. With all the love and craft that goes into developing a product, they still need to sell it. This delay, between developing a product and getting it into a customers hands – and getting paid – is what often leads small business owners to quit. It’s not because they’ve lost interest, or their product has become any less valuable. It’s simply because they don’t have the cash pay the bills, while they learn and manage the selling process. You may have heard the phrase “flash to bang”. It’s the time between seeing the flash of an explosion and hearing the bang. Because light travels faster than sound, there’s a delay. The time between you holding your product and your customer paying for your product, is your flash-to-bang time. And if you can’t wait, the bang stays in your hands.
This is where networking marketing companies stepped in. A network marketing company relies on consumers, like you and me to buy their product, and recommend it to friends and family – a network, of people you know. Naturally when you give someone a product they like, and they give you money for it, you’ll be keen to give it to more people. And make more money.
So now the flash time has gone. You can get a ready made product, complete with sales training and support. All you have to do is “wait” for the bang. Sadly it doesn’t quite work that way. We still have to go out and put the product in people’s hands.
It’s worth mentioning, there’s a tremendous difference between selling your own product, and selling someone else’s. With your own product, there’s a history, an emotional attachment. You want to pass on that love to your customers, so they get the same joy from it that you do. This is what makes selling someone else’s product much easier. You’re not attached to it, if the customer doesn’t love it, it’s not your fault.
On the other side, if they don’t buy they product, you start to question yourself. Are you bad at selling? Are you talking to the wrong people? Have you chosen a bad product to try and sell?
Even if you do sell the product, you have to keep finding new people to sell to. So we’re back to where we started. We have a product and we have a delay, while we try to find new customers. Enter the Multi Level Network Marketing Companies. Multi Level Marketing is the clever idea, of passing on commission from sales beyond the first seller.
So now when I buy a product, I can sell it to my friend and keep the profit from the commission. But my friend wants to do that too. So she starts selling the products to her friends. That’s great for her, but without multi level marketing, I would be cut off from her sales. We’re in the same social group, and my friend is better at selling than me, so she gets to all our friends before I do.
The good news is, with multi level marketing, I get commission on her sales. It’s not as much money as if I had sold directly, but then I don’t have to do any of the leg work.
As far as I can tell, those crafty sales people recognised this model as a potential for quick profit, back in the nineteen seventies (maybe even earlier?). The experienced sales people immediately started recruiting more sales people, and taking the easy commission on their sales. Everyone got paid of course, but sales people at the start of the program, naturally made the most money. Did they sell the most product? Not at all, they turned their attention to recruiting. Building a network of sales people, who could sell for them. Finally, there was a solution to the lead time delay. Instead of finding new customers, we can find new sellers. We only need a handful of sellers, selling the product for us, to make the same money as finding dozens of customers, who actually buy the product.
Building the Pyramids
Naturally, if there’s lots of money to be made, those who prefer shortcuts at the expense of others, will quickly adopt any new process. Multi Level Marketing, or MLM can be very profitable. Today, the biggest MLM companies add on bonuses to sales commission. Bonuses like a Mercedes, or a family trip across the world. It’s genuinely big business. Sadly big business attracts big criminals.
The pyramid was born. Instead of selling any products, the unscrupulous only recruited people. A commission, or bonus was paid for recruitment and the person signing up, paid to join. Commissions were paid from the joining fee. Products appeared in a catalogue, but there was a no push to buy and use these products, only to recruit. The biggest “pyramid schemes” as they became known, never had any products. People simply recruited the next person, who paid to join, and commission was paid up the line, with the people at the top taking the biggest cuts. Fortunately, these have been banned by law.
The Modern MLM’er
Modern MLM companies have to work within strict rules for the selling and marketing of actual products. A modern twist on this, is the selling of the product to yourself. Companies, particularly in the health and beauty industry, rely on sales to their own sellers. This makes perfect sense from a traditional sales point of view. If you sell Volkswagon cars and drive an Audi, people will wonder why you don’t own the product you’re telling them is great. But it also eats into your profit if you’re spending more than you’re selling. For some it’s just a discount programme. The “wholesale” or “reseller” price is a discount off the product. They’re not really interested in selling it to others, but if they do, then it’s a bonus.
Sadly, the Pyramid Schemes of the past gave multi level marketing a terrible industry image. It’s unfairly compounded by poor salesmanship. The MLM companies produce a wealth of marketing material – but they’re often thin on sales material. So, with product in hand, a table cloth and bunch of leaflets, thousands of people go door-to-door, attend trade fairs, hold meetings in their homes and pack their social channels (and the channels of others) with their MLM product.
The more savvy salespeople, (and the trained salespeople) take a different approach. They understand lead times, warm introductions and identifying prospects. The real secret to MLM success is matching the product to the right person at the right time – with the right introduction.
People Don’t Want to be Sold to
It’s become known as “rejection free”. People are afraid of rejection. Did they not buy from me because they don’t like me? Do they not like the product? How can they not see the potential? The list goes on. Standard, 101, everyday sales rejections. In sales training, there’s an answer for all these questions. If you’ve got £10,000 for a week’s training, you can go beyond these basics and get into the programming of the brain. The subtle body language movements, how to craft questions and answers that drive people to buy and overcome rejections in their own mind. If you don’t work for a multi-million pound company, chances are, you’ll not be off to any sales retreats in the mountains with expensive wine and finely printed sales manuals any time soon.
So what to do?
Google and YouTube
The Internet is filled with advice on how to sell. What MLM products to pick and how to sell them. Guess what? Every one of these products are MLM products and come with an affiliate link, an e-book, a CD collection / USB stick / audio download, at least three bonuses, a money back guarantee and are priced either £47 or £197. (There’s a good reason why prices end in 7, but we’ll not go into that here).
The first and only question you really need to answer, when it comes to picking an MLM product, is who are you going to sell to?
If you don’t know, then ignore the marketing that says you’re going to make tons of money. Ignore the marketing that says they’ll train you – you just have to buy…
Never forget, selling is a funnel – a slippery downward slope from free sample to low cost product to medium cost to the “gold” package and beyond.
The first person to sell to, is you. Would you buy the product, and not just the first time, but the twentieth? If you still love and use or eat the product after 20 purchases, then that’s a product you can stay behind in the face of rejection and slow sales times.
Where to Start
With your chosen product, give out some samples. People love free samples. Here’s a great example of a free sample you can use yourself or share. When people ask where you got it, tell them you can get them more. Then take their orders, before you buy. This keeps your costs down and your cash flow healthy.
Aim for bigger. When you’ve sold a few products, look at the bigger markets, that’s anywhere there are more people. Weddings, fairs, pop up shops, anywhere there’s a crowd. Check out the competition. Were there other stands selling the same thing at the last event? Maybe there’s room for two, or you can do it better, but be prepared for competition. Focus on one particular product, to one target market.
Who’s your target market? If you don’t know where to start, look at yourself. Why did you buy the product? Other people will buy the product for the same reason. Where are these people? to find them, write down your own demographics, that’s the list of categories you fall into when being sold to. What age are you? Where do you live? Are you male or female? What’s your income? What’s your level of education? How many children do you have? What are you interests or hobbies?
Make that list and you have a ready made demographic. It’s not perfect (don’t worry, you’re perfect, it’s your demographic that’s slightly off), and it’s a start. Use that information to identify more people. As you narrow down your search, you’ll start to identify other people who fit your categories. These are the people to sell to first. Over time you’ll discover which of those hobbies and interest and ages groups and income levels appear more frequently your sales. As you refine the demographic, you can adjust your sales to match. This is the “secret” that is printed in numerous ebooks, guides, training manuals and basic sales techniques. There are lots of fancy names for it (usually so-called to sell more books and training courses), but it’s identifying a target market and selling to them. Keep it simple, keep it profitable.
Not ready to sell face-to-face? Trying selling online with a referral code or link.
Let me know how you get on in the comments below.