As part of my business and career coaching, I work with many wonderful men and women who have undertaken to build a brand around selling products through independent or network marketing. These are men and women with ambition, who believe in the products their selling, and who understand the value of leveraging interpersonal networks to build their own brand. However, with all the hype surrounding this model, some believe that success comes without effort. Truthfully, there is no product on the market that sells itself, and there has never been. The people that reach colossal levels of success distributing for these organizations are expert recruiters and sales reps. If you want to succeed in this industry, you need to identify the skills and strategies from their example that can be replicated. Here are a few case studies:
Jackie started distributing doTERRA oils in 2009. She credits initial sales success to her enthusiasm for the product. “After feeling such a difference using dōTERRA, I couldn’t stop talking about them.” But the secret to Jackie’s success was moving into recruiting and success coaching. Whereas many multi-level organizations’ compensation plans produce diminishing returns the farther down your downline you recruit, Jackie leveraged this organization’s “unilevel compensation” method to drastically increase earnings with a depth-of-roster strategy.
Takeaways: Pay attention to your organization’s compensation methodology when determining the best sales strategy. A cookie-cutter approach might not work for every commission structure or product category.
Rolf calls Forever Living “The Most Beautiful Business on Earth.” While perhaps overly poetic, his book is retailing for over $40 on Amazon. It’s unclear what percentage of his millions has come from product sales and referrals versus the book and speaking engagements, but it’s clear from his current marketing push that the latter is not insignificant.
Takeaways: Your level of sales success in sales pays off twice; once directly, and again when it can be leveraged to sell training materials to up-and-comers in the industry. While this is a strategy that may not pay off until later in your career, it is a lucrative one.
Brian receives a staggering monthly income from a company that is (technically) a multi-level, Ambit Energy. Whereas most utility companies have contracts with municipal, county, or state governments that provide them with a de facto monopoly, Ambit operates in deregulated energy markets where this disruptive model can potentially drive down the cost of energy and gas bills significantly. Because these markets are new and few, Brian’s outstanding referral bonus can be attributed to his being an early arrival to a new and lucrative opportunity.
Takeaways: Truly successful, disruptive companies operate in “blue ocean” spaces where there is minimal competition. Try to identify new ways of solving old problems, and stake out that territory before someone else does.
No matter which brand or product you’re selling, the essential skills related to success are a willingness to learn and innovate, an emotional intelligence that can fuel your recruitment efforts, and above all, a willingness to get out there and drum up leads. The independent model might be an innovation of the last thirty years, but the keys to success are as old as markets themselves. Don’t let that discourage you; these skills are replicable. But it’s never going to happen without effort, no matter how convincing the hype.