Network Marketing-Valuable Lessons From Costly Mistakes- Part 1
Network Marketing can be a profitable way to make money. I've seen it work for other people and honestly believed it was my answer to financial freedom. I jumped in with enthusiasm (and my money) and had high hopes for a bright future.
When I look back on my experience I can see the many costly mistakes I made. Although I am somewhat bitter that my sponsor and our upline did not help me manage "my business" better before I got in so deep I also realize the stars in my eyes and the dream in my head somehow blinded me to the reality that the model I was following could not possibly result in success. Now that I have assumed some responsibility for my dismal failure I'm hoping the valuable lessons I learned can help you along your path to financial freedom.
How I Got Started
In 2002 I answered a "Work At Home" ad in the newspaper and received a free booklet in the mail. Intrigued, I ordered the 1st package for a small sum of money with a guarantee that I could return it for a full refund if I was not interested. The information boasted large sums of money in a short period of time and was loaded with many success stories. It all seemed too good to be true (and you know what "they" say about that) but if all these average people could do it, why couldn't I?
The 2nd package was free and contained some product samples as well as information on the levels in which I could join the now revealed wellness company. I had a lengthy four-way conversation with my would be sponsor and two others upline from her and decided to join at the "supervisor" level. I bought my "distributor package" and $4000 worth of product at a 50% discount. The reason I joined at the highest level was the possibility of a six-figure income within 18-24 months!
Investing In My Training
All I had to do was follow in my mentors' footsteps and execute the business plan exactly as they had done it. It was all very scary but so exciting. When the boxes of products arrived I was so overwhelmed I didn't open them for 3 days!! But, once opened and arranged on a shelf in my new office I really felt like I was in business.
Over the next few weeks we had many three-way "getting started" training calls. Once I would accomplish my tasks we would go onto the next step. Once all the steps were completed I had all the tools I needed to start advertising my business and selling the products.
These necessary tools were another investment in my business. Some of them would have to be replenished on a regular basis, others (like the "telephone support system" that included my very own "800" numbers, my merchant account and my website) would be paid on a monthly basis. My expenses were adding up but with a six-figure income looming in my not so distant future I could afford them.
During this "getting started" process and thereafter I was given much support and education by my mentors and other distributors. The top of my upline was a couple from humble beginnings that was very successful and had already formed their own huge "group" within the company. At least 5 recruits from their frontline, one of which I was 3 levels downline from, and all of whom had humble beginnings and no sales experience were also very successful and were helping people achieve their own success. The company had been in business for 20 years, was worth 2 billion dollars and had distributors in over 60 countries. I was very confident I made the right decision.
Investing To Gain Momentum
In order to maintain my excitement and increase the momentum I was encouraged to attend the monthly "Opportunity Meetings" (rah-rah!) where they had product training, testimonials about product and income results and sales and recruiting training. The first meeting I attended had over 1500 people there! There is comfort in numbers.
The yearly major meeting was to be held in New Orleans two months after I joined. Because attendence at this major event is supposed to boost your business to the next level within 90 days I was encouraged to go and I knew I had to be there. It would be well worth the investment. I bought my event ticket, airfare and booked my hotel. I met my entire upline in person, attended all the trainings and the parties where you could "rub shoulders with" and "pick the brains of" the top distributors in sales and recruiting. I got autographs and pictures, took a plethora of notes and came away with the enthusiasm to put all that newly acquired knowledge into action.
It's been awhile since then but I do believe I hit the next level (as it turns out, the highest level I, my sponsor and hers, would ever achieve) in that 90 days or soon thereafter. The problem is I "invested" my way there.
Investing In Getting Product Results
From the very start I was encouraged to use the products and that made perfect sense."The bigger your tablet box the bigger your business!!" So, I introduced one product after another into my daily routine. I did love them and got wonderful results.
Getting good results and wearing "the button" (it wasn't very big but was so out of my comfort zone that it felt like a Satellite dish on my chest!!) are the easiest ways to attract people to you and talking to those people about the benefits of the products is the most cost effective way to build your consumer base. It sounds like a good, solid plan but my business did not profit.
While using the products was very beneficial, the degree to which I used them was a very costly investment for me. Even at a 50% discount, with all the products my kids and I were using, it was adding at least $500.00 to my monthly "business" expenditures.
Whereas the results I achieved did make it easier for me to talk to people about the products it did not make it easier for me to sell them to the people I talked to. I never did fancy myself to be a salesperson and even though I was told that would not make any difference once I used the products and got the desired results I still had a difficult time making the sales pitch. I lacked the necessary skills to be an effective and successful salesperson and it did make a difference.
Selling The Product-A Stumbling Block
Not to worry though...at least not yet. The couple at the top of my line created and built their business through retail sales and taught their first line of distributors to do the same. Whereas I consumed most of my inventory, they made their distributors sell their entire initial inventory before they could begin a recruiting campaign (I wish that had been expected of me).
My retail training manual had pull tabs I could create by hand and fliers I could order and different methods of distributing them. We had charts for measuring the success of this inexpensive product advertising campaign so we would know which methods worked best and how much advertising was needed to attract the number of consumers I wanted.
When I would contact someone who left their contact information on the "800" number line I had scripts to follow and a health questionaire that would help me suggest the products that would benefit them. I used the follow up schedule to support my customers and optimize product results.
Although It was easier for me to talk to people on the phone with all the info I needed at my fingertips I still had one big problem. I believed in the products but I thought they were somewhat expensive and shipping, handling and tax jacked the price even higher. I was totally out of my comfort zone when closing the sale. This lack of confidence caused me to offer discounts and incentives a new business can ill afford. At any rate, my customer base was never very large or stable.
Investing In Recruiting Before It's Time
I mentioned that the couple at the top of my line built their business through retail sales and taught their first line distributors to do the same. Well, that emphasis on building a consumer group first in order to support a recruiting campaign did not seem to trickle down.
The six-figure income I could achieve in 18-24 months would result from an aggressive Recruiting Campaign that would take place while I was attempting to build my consumer base. Whereas finding consumers and selling product was always part of the business plan, by the time I joined my mentors were placing the emphasis on recruiting right off the bat, so to speak, to build your business.
My consumer group was certainly not going to support a recruiting campaign but I was still learning and did not make that connection. I never claimed to be a financial whiz but I should have known better.
Investing Further In Debt
I worked hard (though certainly not smart). I was doing as I was told in order to make my dream come true and following in my mentors' footsteps down a path to indebtedness I have yet to find my way completely out of.
Stay tuned for the most costly mistakes I made.