Let me start by saying I have many friends that participate in Direct Sales or Multi-Level Marketing. I even buy some products from a few of them.
MLM (multi-level marketing) just means that they sell to you, but they also have an upline or downline that is making a sale. When person A makes a sell, they get some commission, their upline gets some commission (substantially less than you do), and then the company gets the rest of the money.
Pros of working with a MLM:
The product is already created for you.
There can be training material.
Caution: from my experience, the training material isn’t always the best. Sometimes you’ll have to do the research on your own and come to your own conclusion about what strategies you want to use.
You can build a network of others with similar goals — normally to earn extra money or work from home.
You get to use a product that hopefully works — and if it doesn’t, RUN!
It’s hard (and in my opinion, unethical) to support and sell a product that doesn’t work.
If you’re consistent and reach out to people who want your product (that’s going to require some marketing skillzzz), you can make a good amount.
There are sometimes perks for earning a certain amount — vacations, bonuses, etc.
Cons of working with a MLM:
One negative I hear about a lot of MLMs is that people feel like they have to sell to their friends and family. To make matters worse, there are many a bad sales training when it comes to MLMs and I don’t know a single person that hasn’t at some point gotten that message. You know it — “Hey, I know this is random but have you ever thought of joining XYZ?! You can earn a ton of extra money and … “ or “Hey, you’re so pretty! You’d be a great ambassador for THIS WEIGHT LOSS PRODUCT. Let me know if you’re interested!” Or something along those lines. But it’s essentially “we haven’t talked in ages/ever and don’t have a relationship so do you want to join my organization?!” I think this is primarily what gives MLMs a bad rap.
The great news is that you don’t have to be that way. Study ethical and effective marketing strategies to build relationships, grow your list, and genuinely try to help people once you know what their problems are.
Another reason MLMs get a bad rap is because many who start quit after only a few months. Here’s what it looks like: “OMG I just started selling XYZ because I love it and want to help change the world! Here’s how you can get started with me or join my team!” Throw in some emojis and it’s something I’ve seen again and again. I’m all about that enthusiasm, but because so many quit after only a few months, you’ll probably have to prove to others (and yourself) that you’re going to stick with it.
Side note: the people who stick with it and are consistent are the ones who typically do very well.
Sometimes you have to keep a stock of your supplies. Herballife used to do this and it was a complaint from their direct sellers that they had to have so much in stock.
It takes time. While many direct sales opportunities are sold as a “make money fast” sort of thing, it usually takes a while to build those relationships and show that you’re someone they can trust.
Negative feedback: sometimes people who don’t understand your goals or mission (or have been burned by other direct sales companies) make it their mission to let you know how displeased they are that you’re going after this. At the end of the day, all you can do is be consistent and be kind. In my interview with Frankie, a good friend and direct seller for Younique, she mentioned that she’s come against some of that but has been in it long enough to now see people coming back and asking her for help or how they can get started. Because she’s been consistent long enough and genuinely cares about people, over time those naysayers come around,
You’re not in control of the product quality.
You don’t control your take-home cut.
Listen to this podcast episode or this podcast episode to hear from two women I respect greatly that are in direct sales.
There are pros and cons to every job. Being in direct sales really requires a lot of discipline and grit. If you’re willing to put in the work long term and have no desire to create your own product, this might be a good option for you. However, it’s always best to have multiple streams of income, whether you take this path or not, so I would suggest still discovering what product you could create for yourself, too.
What do you think? Could you see yourself in a direct sales company? Are you in a MLM already? Click here to get my top 10 tips to grow your direct sales business. CAUTION: this is only for those of you who are in it for the long run.