There is a huge range of different MLM companies out there in the world. Some are small, some are huge. Some sell a product some have services. They all have a good sales pitch, and they all promise success. But how do you go through all of these and find the ones that you can be successful at? How are companies different from each other? What should you look for in a good MLM Company? How do you do all of this while not being taken?
Well there is a very wide variety of MLM companies out there. At this time there are about 5000 MLMs with a sales force of over 5000 people. There are 100 or so really successful ones out there. For this blog I will keep it all concept, in the next blog I will name names and rate companies that I know of.
To me one of the FIRST things that I look for is the ROI, this means how many sales do I need to make to get my money back and start making profit. I also look at the cost of maintaining the membership, the value of the product, the support of the team.
One of my main tests of any MLM that I look at is the source of the money. Most good MLMs out make all of their money off of selling a product or service. They have to have a good product because this is where the money is made. But at the same time there are MLMs that focus on recruiting, and almost all of the money being made is from a huge ($300+) fee that new recruits must pay. Almost all of this money is paid to the upline. In many of these companies almost all of the money is being made from the recruiting fees. If you think about this, it is not sustainable. And I feel that this is unethical, you are promising people a dream, and taking their money, and the only way they can get to their dream is to take more money from their friends and family. And most of that money goes upline. In these companies history, and the math, shows us that about 1% of the people win big, 5% of the people win, 5% more break even and the rest LOSE MONEY.
When I tell someone that they can make it, and they can have success I want to mean it. I am NOT going to put my name on it if the chips are stacked against my friends. The first MLM I was in was, and still is, the largest MLM in the world. They had great motivational meetings, but almost everyone there was loosing money. On top of that they were spending a ton of time, and hurting many relationships by trying to force people to consume their products. You became good friends with the other people in the company, and you would have pressure to use the products, even though they were vastly overpriced, you also would be pressured to buy “tools”, overpriced educational materials. With all of this going on they had weekly meetings, monthly all day meetings and a few times a year they had 3-4 day conventions. All of these meetings had various costs, and you were told to come early and stay late. Even people who recruited 10-20 people into this company did not make money, if you counted the amount they were overpaying on their products. Almost everyone there was loosing money, but they were sold a dream, and they would hear from people who made the dream. Some would try for years never reaching success. Other would get 50 or so friends and family to join in, who were all loosing money so that they could make a decent income.
Other companies that I have seen have a product where you make very little on, some as little as $1 a month for each customer, but these same companies have fees over $500 to join, and these fees are almost totally paid to the upline. I was presented a company last week where, as far as I could figure, over 80% of the money made in the program was ONLY from these recruiting fees. You can always tell these companies because they have a large fee to join and once you are in they tell you to focus on getting other people to join so that you can pay back your fee. Of course this all is great for the person on top, but for me, I can’t ethically build a company like that where for me to have success I have to hurt other people. Yes they have a chance to make it, but that chance is slim, and for them to have success they also must hurt others financially. Personally I like to stay away from ANY company that pays for recruits. I want it to be easy for people to sign up.
There is a semi new evolution of this concept. This is where, instead of a large recruitment fee there is a smaller monthly fee. Some companies even go so far as to charge a monthly fee for you to have a website so that you can sign up other people. And they have yet another fee to be allowed to sell their products. They call it a technology fee. I am in the computer industry also and I know to make a dedicated server with a self replicating software on it costs about $50 a month to maintain, and such a server could host tens of thousands of associates. So if they are charging $40 a month PER USER that is a huge profit. $30 or so of this money was paid to the field and the rest was kept with the company. I talked to a lady there, who was making great money, she had recruited over 1100 people. I ask her if more than 100 people have broken even and her answer was “ I think it about 100” That means that over 1000 people paid $350 to sign up, and $40 a month for months on end and did not make any money. The even worse part was that they sold a product that was very bad. I was in a meeting with the leaders of this company, as they presented it to me and some other people looking at the company. At the end we asked them if they have ever even used the product they are selling, and to our surprise and horror not even ONE of these leaders had ever used the service that they sell. It was crazy. Their response to the objection that many of us had to the monthly fee was that “If you personally find 6 other people to pay the fee each month yours will be waived”. To me this was a horrible answer. I told all of my friends in this company to quit, and they did. (I tend to have that result, the last three people who were new in a company that was bad and presented the idea to me I showed them logically how it was bad, and the next day they were quitting and getting their money back.) A pyramid scheme is a company has NO product at all and all the money is made from the new people paying the people who have been in longer. This company has almost no product of value.
Believe it or not there are many even worse companies. One company charges 1000 to join, and you have to then pass up the first few people that you get, with the full 1000 going to your upline, then you start to find more people to sign up and you get the full 1000 from them and also from the first two people that they sign up. So what is the product, you will laugh at this. The product is a $20 a month website that allows you to sell the $1000 memberships. If you stop paying the $20 a month you then lose your chance to make money off of other people. The guy who thought up this whole plan has over 100,000 people now paying him $20 per month. All this running on servers that I bet cost him a few hundred per month at the most. What a smart, devious idea.
Now that you know what is bad, I don’t want to give the impression that all companies are bad, far from it, many companies have great products, and a great plan for paying people back. Later this week I will release the blog about that. That being said not every company is right for every person. Some companies focus more on selling products, and other focus on team building. Some sell services; some have just one product, while others sell 1000’s of products. Some are online while others are almost totally offline. Find a product, and a management style that fits you. Don’t just take any opportunity simply because it is presented to you. Find one you will love to represent.
Another key to finding a product is the size of the industry. If you are in an industry that almost everyone needs you will do better than in an industry that has very few people. You also need to look at the profits in that industry. Some industries have huge profit margins while others are very small. The phone industry is huge but the profits paid out to the mlm companies that sell phone service is VERY SMALL simply because competition has forced prices down. Most MLMs sell very low priced items, and these are items that people don’t need that many of. If your company sells something that only makes $10 a month there simply is not much money to work with, you will have to build a huge group to make life changing money.
About 60% of all MLM companies are Health and wellness related. One major reason for this is because health products can be marked up a lot. A $50 product may only cost $5 to make, this gives a lot of room for profit for the company and for the distributors. Another reason that the health products sell in MLM well is because most of them need to have a fairly large explanation for people to use them, and the normal retail channel just does not provide this. Most of these companies have a few core products, or maybe only one that they sell. In general these products do provide some help in our vastly malnourished society, and are fairly profitable to sell. For me personally I have no passion for this, and even if someone uses the product as they should the profit will still probably be under $30 per month for each person you sign up. I know many people who have made it big selling such a product, they have found many people who also found many people and they are making nice 6 figure incomes as a result.
Another major area are companies that sell many products, some they make themselves while others simply get a discount from products made by other companies. Everyone can find something that the company sales that you will like. The problem with most of these companies is that for them to be able to pay the kind of money that people want they have to mark up these products much more than you could find the same products for elsewhere.
One of my great product type is the financial services type. Most everyone needs investment help, a mortgage, insurance, or education. These are items that traditional methods charge huge amounts, these are also items that a large percent of many budgets goes to. One MLM that I was in originated mortgages. The fees charged to the customers was typical of the industry, and yet were still 3000 and more per sale. As you can see, even with a small team it was easy to make money doing this. On your first sale you made more money than all of your first year expenses. In my mind this was a great MLM, the only problem is now there is a credit crunch and it is very hard to get mortgages approved. Most people in this company have quit, and it would not surprise me if the company is gone before the end of 2008.
RULES. People want to join a MLM for the freedom they have to run their own business, but many MLMs have so many rules that they place on their distributors it almost feels like a commission job. Before you join a company look to see what rules you will have to live by. One MLM I know of states in their policy that they “OWN” anyone who signs of for their company and if you mention another business idea to them and they leave the first company you will be punished for theft. Other MLMs, say that you can’t sell their products anyway other than person to person or at their website. This limitation will make it much harder to be successful. Many companies won’t let you discount the products. Most won’t let you be in multiple MLMs at the same time and use your contacts from one to build the other. Most will not let you have your own marketing, your own website for the company and even your own business cards. Before you join a MLM decide what rules you are willing to live by and make sure that the one you are joining allows you to operate in the way you want to.
One last thing to look at is the stability of the company. Is this a company that had been around for a long time or something that just started. Most new companies may not survive and they usually don’t have all of the bugs worked out, but you can get in on the ground floor and be at the top. A company that pays out a ton of money may look good, but if the company can’t make profits you may find one day that they are gone and so is all your hard work. I also find it VERY hard to deal with a company that is always changing the compensation plan. I understand as they get bigger you need changes, but I have seen companies that made 8 changes in a year.
Also you need to have a company with an easy to understand compensation plan. I have been to meetings where the compensation plan is so complex that none of the leaders fully understand it, they simply keep asking you to “Trust the Company” and that the money will all come out right. If you can’t explain the whole compensation plan in 30 seconds it is just too complex. This will make it harder to build, and harder to see the direct results of your actions.
So the bottom line, find a company where you can make money, has a product/service you like and a team and system you would like to work with. Do this, then build it big and you will have great success.
I hope this helps. This is the third blog in this series. Please click here for the first one.
I could write 10 more pages on this but I feel that I have hit the most important points already.