[doggone it, I clicked “publish” long before I was finished typing! So here is the completed version. –LS]
My friend Jason called me to ask that question. I was flattered that he asked, and I was determined to give him a list that would allow HIM to decide which company to choose.
(all of this post is my personal opinion. No insult, direct or indirect, is intended toward any person, company, or type of product. This is not considered “professional advice.” Follow it at your own risk.)
I joined my first network marketing company in 1996. When that folded, I joined my second-ever company in 2006, and I love it. I’m happy where I am.
In the past 20 years I have seen many things happen. Products launched successfully, and not. Companies bursting onto the scene with great fanfare; some last and some don’t. People lured by “big money” only to discover they need to invest many more thousand dollars in required training or purchases. And others who were accurately told the costs up-front and remain happy with their company many years later.
My deep wish is for people to ask questions so they choose a company that truly fits their situation, so they remain satisfied in the long term. I want people to join with “eyes wide open.”
So if you are looking for your first network marketing company, here are some questions you might want to consider.
I begin by focusing on the PRODUCT because the point of being a distributor is to sell (or distribute) product.
- Do you truly LIKE the product and its overall industry? Would you use it even if there was no compensation plan available?
You will be expected to purchase and publicly use your company’s product. For example, if the company markets greeting cards, you will be expected to send thank you, birthday, holiday, and sympathy cards. If you abhor sending cards, if it is against your religion’s rules to celebrate birthdays and holidays, or you think greeting cards are a waste of paper and money, such a company would not be a good fit.
- Are you comfortable talking to people about their PAIN with that subject?
People tend to buy products when they have reached a point of extreme discomfort. Example: If the company is a “legal protections” company, are you comfortable talking to people about their recent or current legal troubles?
- Is the product “consumable”? If a customer falls behind in “consuming,” can they catch up?
“Consumable” means things one swallows, as well as other items that are “one-time-use.” This is in comparison to durable goods such as clothing or household goods. If your product is consumable you have a built-in market for repeat purchases. Otherwise your customers will only realistically want so much of your product, so you will need to bring in new customers on a consistent basis. And for example, if a customer buying nutritional supplements forgets to swallow the item for a week, it could be dangerous to take seven servings at one time. So their need for restocking your product would be delayed by seven days.
- Is this general type of product already available in retail stores? If so, is yours priced LESS than retail OR does it offer a convenience or improvement the customer finds significant?
- Realistically who already buys this type of product IN YOUR COMPANY’S PRICE RANGE? People who already spend a similar amount for a similar (retail) product are more likely to buy yours.
Now let’s talk about the distributor’s obligations.
- What is the expected time commitment– presentations, weekly meetings or trainings, conference calls, webinars? Are there area and regional events, or an annual convention?
- Where do we hold our business presentations: over Skype? In one’s home? In a local coffee shop, restaurant, or hotel meeting room?
- What DVDs, supplies, or handouts do I use when conducting a presentation?
You will be expected to purchase these types of items and have them on-hand.
Many companies no longer use DVDs or CDs but have their videos posted online.
- What type of attire is considered proper for doing a presentation? For the company area, regional, and convention events? (Examples: 2 piece suit, polo and casual slacks, tshirts and jeans)
- If I want to move up in rank in the company, what packages/products/trainings must I purchase or attend?
- Tell me about your leadership line: who trained you? Can I speak with them if I have questions before joining? What is the highest ranking person in your company who will accept your phone calls?
- What are the “tools” you use in your business, and how much are the monthly costs?
Tools might include: smartphone, computer, company-generated web site, subscription to magazines or coaching web sites, and many other things. Internet access is essentially a “must” nowadays.
- What must I do to receive my full paycheck? Is there minimum amount of purchases I or my personal customers must do each month? Is there a requirement to bring in new customers or distributors on a monthly or yearly basis?
- What happens to my paycheck if I stop business-building activities for a week, a month, several months, especially in my first year? Surprises happen in life, so it’s smart to learn this effect ahead of time.
I hope this list helps you learn some insightful details about whatever company you are considering. This is an incredibly powerful profession, and I hope you find a company that fits you well.
–LYnn Selwa, “The Rocket Science Coach” ™
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