You Can't Fake Passion
You Can't Fake Passion
This post started out as a response to JP’s blog post Leveraging Social Capital and the 8th Circle of Hell and took on a life of it’s own…
My Multi-level Marketing Experience
I signed up for Quixtaras a freshman in college ready to own my first BMW by age 21 and retire at age 30. I found out that “Start-Up Kit” really meant “\$100 lesson in how not to run a business.” As JP pointed out, the problem with Multi-level Marketing (MLM) Companies is that they try to leverage your relationships as a revenue stream in an insincere way.\ \ During my first Quixtar meeting, the associate gave us a vision: “Imagine driving up to the bank in your BMW, unshaven. You roll down the window to deposit a check for \$2000. When the cashier sees the amount, she looks up and you smile - all in a days work baby.” (He really said this). Then he bought everybody lunch and asked us to sign on the dotted line.\ \ I signed because I was young and naive. After a few training sessions, I was out. I didn’t feel right asking my friends to use products that (1) I had no passion towards and (2) weren’t relevant to them. Hell, the products weren’t even relevant to me so how was I supposed to sell them to other people? And therein lies the problem with MLM. A small few can fake the passion and sell millions. The rest of us like to stay true to ourselves and friends. We don’t want to monetize our friendships.
Like JP, I’ve been approached by several MLM people. Usually, it’s awkward and forced. I’ve outlined the three main types of MLM Bots below:\
The Newb Bot*:* The average MLM Newb Bot is new to business and green around the ears. They strike up uncanny conversations in the work-out section of Walmart. They ask if you like to work out frequently and what you do to get good results (this happened to me). Really, it’s all bullshit. They’re not actually interested in helping you or heeding your advice, they just needed a convo starter to push their product. If they’re feeling lucky, a drone might work up the guts to pitch you right there. Usually they’ll say, “You seem like the type that knows what you’re talking about. Ever thought about owning your own business?” If their voice doesn’t crack, they count it as a victory.
Strength:Has a lot of Newb friends that are prime for signing up.
Weakness: Newb Bots are easily shot down with rational arguments and don’t possess the confidence for rebuttal or stomach for confrontation.
Longevity: Newb Bots will drop out of the MLM business in 2-4 months because they could only sign other Newb Bots for their downline (people signed up underneath them). They eventually realize that they’re all Newbs and should go back to college. Meanwhile, the MLM company makes a shitload off of their initial investment kits. Ka-ching!
The Alpha Bot: This MLM Bot is particularly adept at preying on the weak. They are usually the alpha dogs of the pack and have gotten where they are by being pushy. You send an Alpha Bot into a room full of people and they’ll come out with five party bookings. The problem is that no one will show up because they didn’t like how pushy they were and/or didn’t actually sell the host on the product. The mark of an Alpha Bot is someone who assumes the sale before they’ve found out your needs. They will say, “Nice to meet you, I sell this and this, so when do you want to book the party?”
Strength:Lack of empathy. By only thinking of themselves, the Alpha Bot is able to push past other peoples’ negative emotional cues. They will persist until the sale is made, no matter how tactless.\
Weakness: Unlike Newb Bots, the Alpha Bot will continually rebut an argument. They don’t mind confrontation because they constantly use it to their advantage. There’s no nice way to say “No thanks” to an Alpha Bot. Their weakness lies in their ability to view everything as a possible alpha-status attack. To defeat them, simply say, “I don’t want to book a party because I don’t like you and/or don’t want to use your products.” They will rebut with a “why” which is when you say,”I don’t care to discuss it.” Boom! You’ve just shut down all of their premeditated counters. They’ll huff and puff their feathers to make a big show. They’d never let others see the tail between their legs because it’s too much of an ego-bruising.
Longevity: The Alpha Bot will last years and years in the industry. They will cruise to the top by running over non-confrontational people. Just remember, if they try to drive over you, they’ll be cruisin’ for a bruisin’, and you’re Captain Bruisin’.
The Value Bot: The Value bot is a socially savvy bot that caters to your needs and isn’t pushy about it. They ad extra value to their product by offering great service and extra knowledge. A Value Bot is worried about what you need, no matter the relevance to their product line. They want to talk to you because they like helping people. The Value Bot will stay in your life for a long time because they forge real relationships. When you meet one, you will know because they will ask you questions about what you do and offer real advice to help you reach your goals. You’ll learn what a Value Bot does because they’re passionate rather than pushy.
Strength:Empathy and positive regard for others. The Value Bot puts their knowledge to work for you.
Weakness: Too much time helping others. A Value Bot’s only weakness is that they put your needs first. This can ultimately hurt them because they are helping instead of selling. If a Value Bot can strike a balance, they will be very successful. If you notice a struggling Value Bot, help them find clients.
You can defeat a Value Bot by saying… Wait, uh, you cannot defeat a Value Bot because you are never fighting a Value Bot. You are always on the same side.
Longevity: Value Bots usually rise to the top. They’ll be in it for life because they are passionate about what they do.
Product Focus vs. Money Focus
That being said, there are a lot of MLM companies that have a good reputation. As JP mentioned, Pure Romance, Mary Kay, and Pampered Chef are all household names of quality. (Sc)amway is not. With the former, products sales drive revenue. Now that I’m viewing their website, I see that Amway has came a long way since it’s Quixtar bad PR days. They’ve rebranded Quixtar into Amway Global and have become more product-focused.
It’s up to the individual companies to set the tone for their sales reps. If a company (EIRO) puts a pile of cash on their front page to entice potential recruits, then they’re not focusing on their product. This is a money first mentality. A mentality that their sales reps will probably adopt. I don’t want money-driven Newb and Alpha Bots interrupting me while I’m pumping gas. If someone interrupts me, they better have some real passion behind what they’re saying. They better be a Value Bot.
If you look at the front page of Pure Romance, Mary Kay, and even Amway (they’ve learned their lesson), you won’t see BMWs or fat stacks of cash. If you look at EIRO’s front page, that’s practically all you see. It’s cool, they’ll learn their lesson or die out just like the rest of them.
With that being said, an individual sales rep can still trump bad company policy. If an EIRO rep is passionate and truly believes in their energy drinks, then I am much more likely to give them a try. If I am already a consumer of Redbull and EIRO can offer a better value proposition, then I’m sold.
It’s all about passion and product relevance. You can bet your tasty can of EIRO that if one of my friends likes Husker Football and has an iPhone that I’m going to tell them about our Reflect7 Football Apps. For two reasons: (1) the product is relevant to them and (2) I’m passionate about it. However, companies that thrive off of pyramidal kit sales can lick my sweaty Redbulls.
If you made it this far, you should follow me on Twitter. Follow @jprichardson