Direct Sellers, Cut the Crap

Seems like everyday I have people that try to recruit me for one MLM business or another, spouting claims of untold riches.  And then you have the anti-MLMers who are claiming that the MLM system didn’t work for them, and the whole thing is just a fraud.  My opinion is that it is the fault of the industry that we’re getting such a bad rap (or at least the fault of those who aren’t controlling themselves because they’re desperate to recruit), because of the outrageous claims being made.

Social media is truly exacerbating the problem.  Now these “get rich quick” claims are FLOODING the Internet, and every single time they’re repeated we damage the credibility of the industry.  The fact of the matter is that most people make a few extra hundred dollars per month in the direct sales industry.  Now that’s nothing to sniff at.  That’s a car payment, school tuition, utility bills, grocery money, etc.  There are PLENTY of people who can benefit from a few extra hundred dollars per month.  But when we start singing the song about untold riches, without telling the whole story about what it actually takes to get there, we undermine the credibility of the industry.

Now every direct selling opportunity has the POTENTIAL to bring you lots of money.  But it’s a lot of work, and it takes time.  You actually have to be good at this.  You have to put a lot of time into networking, selling products, recruiting people, conducting team trainings, coaching individuals, and more.  This is not something that happens by sitting back and playing Farmville.  But I think that too often we lead people to believe that this is easy money.  It’s NOT.  It’s real work.

People, as an industry we need to stop being so desperate to recruit that we stretch the truth.  The individuals we talk to  need to be informed of what it really takes to be successful as a direct seller or network marketer (and NEWS FLASH…it’s not just your system on auto-pilot that’s going to make someone money.)  We need to stop promoting untold riches through social media platforms (if I had a dollar for every earning claim I saw go by, I’D be rich.) Stop saying money is just going to get delivered to my door. This stuff goes so far in social media, and when it doesn’t work the way we claim, we fuel the Google juice of our detractors.

There is plenty of good, realistic info about our industry.  Stop spouting the garbage.  Let’s tell the real story for once.

Your thoughts?

Photo Credit: Lara604

20 Responses to Direct Sellers, Cut the Crap
  1. Jeffrey7500
    February 26, 2010 | 8:11 pm

    I am an Amway Business Owner and proud of it. Everyone that I talk to knows that it is Amway because I talk to them about the products first. I tell them later (if the conversation warrants it) that there is an incredible business opportunity behind the products. People almost never have aproblem with the products–it has usually always been about how they have been approached.

  2. Ken Gold
    February 22, 2010 | 11:33 pm

    Jen, I wholeheartedly agree with you. Every time I see one of those egregious claims that links to a landing page with absolutely no information about what the product is, no mention of the company involved, or what you’ll need to do to earn it and/or some twisted, unapproved quote from Donald Trump and Robert Kiyosaki… I want to call them out for being a scam artist and putting a black mark on the direct selling industry. Their tactics are abhorrent and they are of the same ilk as spammers, phishers and other internet bottom feeders.

    In recent years, thanks in large part to the efforts of the DSA and its member companies, Direct Selling has received a lot of positive press and made great strides towards being perceived as a legitimate business model and a real “micro-entrepreneurial” opportunity. It is unfortunate that these efforts are being tarnished and making the job of positively promoting the industry that much more difficult.

    (Anyone have the time to set up It’s available… 😉

  3. Julie Garro
    February 22, 2010 | 9:23 pm

    Well said. It’s exhausting to me to have people sign up and “discover” the truth later on, then quit. It’s your credibility on the line. Have a real, honest meeting with them before they get into the business. Go over the great possibilities – but they need to know that it takes effort. The reward is in direct porportion to the effort, plus time. It doesn’t happen quickly. Maybe it’s just better to have that person as a customer instead of on your time. Honesty is ALWAYS the best policy.

  4. Jill Shea
    February 22, 2010 | 8:16 pm

    Great post Jennifer! I agree, I always tell ladies if it seems too good to be true…RUN! It takes time to build a business. In fact, I tell ladies if you just want to try this out for a few months then it’s really not for you. You have to be willing to give yourself at least a one year mental commitment otherwise you really are wasting your time, energy and money. You can definitely see great success in direct sales when you discipline yourself and learn from others, hard work pays off!

    Love & Success,
    Jill Shea

  5. Dhea
    February 22, 2010 | 4:39 pm

    Hi Jennifer

    I have been involved in party plan profession for just on 9 years now and recently delved into the world of MLM – the only thing that was easy for me was to get into both! and the other easy aspect was it was a better fit for me as a mum compared to my teaching position that I gave up – despite many many people saying to me that isn’t teaching perfect for mums… NO! However just like any other position I had the hard work began… being a self starter isn’t for everyone and I didn’t know if was for me either until I started to bring in a few hundred $$ a day, week, month… my hard work and integrity built my business… and when you come from a sense of integrity you can share the business… these instant success landing pages are a disgrace and should be illegal – i recall a girlfriend who started in one – still to this day don’t recall what it actually did other than prey on the vulnerable – and she had posted photos of her european holiday when she was a young teen/adult… and implying that this business gave her these… and with the same company another lady was highlighting her mercedes whilst we all new she achieved it with another business… So unfortunately this need for us to do things easy or take the easy way out allows us to be vulnerable to the ideal that we can get rich quick…

  6. gordon schmid
    February 22, 2010 | 2:45 pm

    You are right on Jenn. People are arriving at a “splash page” with the pict of the island resort and the BMW, then they put in their name and address, and that begins a series of “computers responding to computers with auto responders”. To succeed in the direct sales industry from the ground up, a person has to show “value in the product” by the hard work of actual live, real time, “face to face” or “ear to ear” conversations and these take time to develop.

  7. Lynne Baker
    February 22, 2010 | 1:43 pm

    RIGHT ON! I’m involved in both a Dual Marketing and recently now with a MLM company – both of which will require consistent work to be successful. What I enjoy is the potential that I can make more on my own than if I worked for someone else. It may take a while, but I can be guaranteed NOT to make more by working for someone else 🙂

  8. mary irwin
    February 22, 2010 | 1:19 pm

    Feel the irritation as well, Jennifer, but I will say that, after 15 years in direct sales with mlm compensation schemes , having worked very hard and achieved considerable success inthe industry I am noticing a drop in the ridiculous ‘get the porsche by Friday’ experiences – at least here in the UK. We do have 6 figure incomes in my company (not many) and I have a number of full-time incomes in my own downline – all a result of learning – application and hard work (as in any other industry) + loads of people happily earning a few hundred a month (additional disposable income). I think maybe the tide is changing here…??? Interestingly my company has just released its social media strategy..almost total freedom – just a handful of guidelines – one of which is to make no income claims at all – even if they can be substantiated.

  9. Marijane
    February 22, 2010 | 12:27 pm

    Thank you, Jen! You continue to be the “voice of reason” out there in the sea of chaos. YIKES! If we could help more of our Direct Selling Leaders to understand the rules of etiquette and what content to share (in the appropriate places), that would help all of us!
    We appreciate YOU!

  10. Karen Clark
    February 22, 2010 | 12:27 pm

    Yes, thank you for posting this. I am very supportive of our profession but am disgusted by some segments such as these, so much so that when I see these statements on Twitter or Facebook I immediately eliminate them as contacts. We can do our best to uplift the industry into doing the right thing, but sometimes it feels like a losing battle. I’m glad you’re out there fighting the good fight Jen!

  11. Cheryl
    February 22, 2010 | 12:14 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. I especially loved your comment about you have to work. So many people belive that customers will just come beating down your doors. You are right that with work you will have success and that we need to be realisitc about what that success will be.

  12. Lisa Young
    February 22, 2010 | 11:43 am

    One of the big obstacles in clearing this “crap” is that we’ve been trained to tell people about the so-called ‘riches’ by sharing our upline’s income instead of just being authentic about why WE got started in direct sales, and letting people know about the realities of direct sales recruiting.

    Sure, there’s always going to be someone at the top of the “food chain” in our direct sales business that pulls down a half a million dollars a year (or more), but the reality is closer to the truth of those hard working women that spend a couple evenings a week sharing great products with friends, family and clients, and bringing home a few hundred dollars a month. And There’s NOTHING wrong with that. In fact, so many people NEED exactly that right now, that the smart thing to do is actually share THAT story instead of what has essentially become an unbelieveable tale that’s been spread like wild fire through social media.

    I can’t count the number of people that have come on board in a direct selling company thinkin they’re on the fast track to wealth, and three months in are asking themselves “What have I gotten myself into!?!”

    It is the consultants on the front lines that have the responsibility of being honest and transparent with their recruit leads. But how many times have we been “encouraged” to focus on gaining the next recruiting incentive, instead of being focused on the real needs of our people?

    When I stopped trying to hit the incentives, I discoered my business was more productive, my teams were more responsive, and my attrition was less than 20% – which is kind of unheard of in the industry.

    We need to train our teams to focus on quality, not quantity, and give them the tools to make it happen. Then we need to trai them to communicate THAT message via social media and other channels.

    That’s the best way to preserve what’s left of the reputation of direct sellers, and direct sales in general.

  13. Jan Schlievert
    February 22, 2010 | 11:38 am

    Great Subject and I completely agree. I am in direct sales and love my work…am I getting rich? Everyone needs to define “Rich” for themselves. I do make money, I am able to work from home and take care of an elderly Mom, when I work I make more money….when I don’t I make less…this is my business and it is my responsibility to run this business as I see fit!! I agree with Stop the Crap!!!! Share your true factual stories and the recruiting will happen!!

  14. amanda
    February 22, 2010 | 10:09 am

    I agree completely. I think it also devalues the legitimate business models, and by this unrealistic exaggeration it fuels people’s skepticism about this type of business…and there are MANY advantages to running a direct/social business. I have been in Sales for all of my career, but for the first time in a direct model, it is very interesting to hear people ask is this a MLM sceme…I really don’t know what to say to that. I am the person representing this line…do you want to do business with me? I think the nightmare stories of MLM’s, Pyramid scheme’s and these HUGE exaggerated unbelievable payoffs have really confused the general public….and it’s to the detriment of the sales reps and the people who should be prospective customers who just don’t “get it”.

  15. Larna Pittiglio
    February 22, 2010 | 10:00 am

    I agree with you Jen.. I am in direct sales and am sooooo over network marketing get rich quick spiels on social media…… ENOUGH!!! Before you all ruin it for those of us who actually do the work, work with people to succeed rather than setting them up for failure, and actually want to have a long life in the industry rather than a fly by night line my pockets mentality.
    GO AWAY!

  16. Pamela Fatone
    February 22, 2010 | 9:32 am

    Oh Jennifer,
    If I could beat this into the minds of some people…. Well said, I keep learning from you, its ongoing. The class on Wed( Linkedin) is it going to be recorded?

    • Jennifer
      February 22, 2010 | 10:15 am


  17. Missy
    February 22, 2010 | 9:01 am

    I totally agree with you. I am in direct sales and I couldn’t have said it better myself. So often people make the claims that are just not true. It make people untrusting to those of us who have a good opportunity to offer for those who want to put in the time to make some extra money. Thank you for sharing this blog.

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