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I appreciate this comment. I’m a doTERRA gal. When I signed up I said I’d never sell. I just wanted to buy and use the oils. Then because of my love for them, people started coming to me for education and asking where they could get oils. So now I sell them. I’m not a sales person. I can’t bug my friends about stuff. But I’m growing this business because I truly believe in the products and use them every single day. I may not ever become rich from this and that’s OK with me. I won’t consider it a failure. Every person I help is a success in my book!
The end result of the MLM business model is, therefore, one of a company (the MLM company) selling its products and services through a non-salaried workforce ("partners") working for the MLM company on a commission-only basis while the partners simultaneously constitute the overwhelming majority of the very consumers of the MLM company's products and services that they, as participants of the MLM, are selling to each other in the hope of one day themselves being at the top of the pyramid. This creates great profit for the MLM company's actual owners and shareholders.
The most widely-cited description of an unlawful MLM structure appears in the FTC’s Koscot decision, which observed that such enterprises are “characterized by the payment by participants of money to the company in return for which they receive (1) the right to sell a product and (2) the right to receive in return for recruiting other participants into the program rewards which are unrelated to the sale of the product to ultimate users.” In re Koscot Interplanetary, Inc., 86 F.T.C. 1106, 1181 (1975).1
An MLM’s compliance program should ensure that the MLM accurately represents the business opportunity it offers, both through its own marketing materials and messaging and through the representations its participants make to current or prospective participants. In addition, an MLM’s compliance program should ensure that compensation paid by the MLM is based on actual sales to real customers, rather than based on wholesale purchases or other payments by its participants.

Although an MLM company holds out those few top individual participants as evidence of how participation in the MLM could lead to success, the reality is that the MLM business model depends on the failure of the overwhelming majority of all other participants, through the injecting of money from their own pockets, so that it can become the revenue and profit of the MLM company, of which the MLM company shares only a small proportion of it to a few individuals at the very top of the MLM participant pyramid. Participants, other than the few individuals at the top, provide nothing more than their own financial loss for the company's own profit and the profit of the top few individual participants.[15]

Thanks Ray for this info about the lead company. Some time ago I purchased Todd’s script book and purchased a large group of leads from another company. After over 400 calls I realized that the company had sold my ‘exclusive’ leads, muliple times. Did I consider it a waste of time and money? No, it was a very good training opportunity for me. Most people have a job and work and can’t take time off to get a ‘telemarketer’ job. But they can get a script book and get a group of inexpensive leads and use it as a form of training on the phone. After a large no. of calls the phone can become a familiar and usable tool.

Great job on the top 25 MLMs. Really like what you’re doing for the industry as a whole. Your analysis is spot on. However, a closer look at retention rates for each company might give you another perspective on the value proposition of any given company. As a Doterra Wellness Advocate we are told by our corporate execs that we have a 65% retention rate with customers repurchasing the product within 3 months. And that if we based it on the industry standard of 12 months our retention would go up to 85%. I’m told that this is unprecedented in network marketing. So I’m believing that Doterra is succeeding because its selling a product that works and that users and word-of-mouth drive the business in the long run.
The overwhelming majority of MLM participants (most sources estimated to be over 99.25% of all MLM distributors) participate at either an insignificant or nil net profit.[12] Indeed, the largest proportion of participants must operate at a net loss (after expenses are deducted) so that the few individuals in the uppermost level of the MLM pyramid can derive their significant earnings. Said earnings are then emphasized by the MLM company to all other participants to encourage their continued participation at a continuing financial loss.[13]
An MLM’s compensation structure may give its participants incentives to make representations about the business opportunity to current or prospective participants. As a consequence, an MLM should (i) direct its participants not to make false, misleading, or unsubstantiated representations and (ii) monitor its participants so they don’t make false, misleading, or unsubstantiated representations.
People generally tend to prefer either the unilevel or the binary compensation plans. But, the breakaway compensation plan also has benefits of its own. With the breakaway compensation plan, creating breakaway legs offers more of an opportunity to build passive income. Ultimately, which compensation plan is best is up to where you think your strengths will help you excel most.
One of my favorite approaches to get my pipeline going is attend a bunch of meetups or local events in my area. I teach what I do on this blog – How to network at events. I love this approach as only people who want something MORE in their life will bother attending events and that is a lot easier type of person to talk to than someone who is NOT motivated to network or build their business.
Just because you paid for the lead, it doesn’t mean that you should get emotionally attached to each one. Buying leads is, and always will be, a sorting process to find your next business partners. If you are terrible at the phone, either, buy MLM leads or get a job at a telemarketing company. Gaining experience on the phone is worth its weight in gold. Every big recruiter or enroller is good on the phone. Most of them used to be terrible but experience made them better.
Once you’ve built a small team through these methods, you will have increased your income enough to be able to reinvest in buying leads and you will also have built up confidence in speaking to people, meaning that your bought leads are more likely to sign up. You can tell these leads about how you’ve got a nice little team earning you a nice income. Hence, these bought leads are now better value.
As a last resort, you could try cold calling by phone. This is probably the most depressing and soul destroying activity on the planet. Even if you get past the usual questions such as ‘If you’re selling something – I’m not interested’ and ‘How did you get my number?’ you need a really slick and professional script and the ability to recognize and avoid lonely old ladies who just want to interact with someone, anyone, in fact.
Thanks for this post. Very helpful. I do like direct sales; one reason for this is that it helps keep alive that age-old tradition of people interacting face-to-face (rather than mainly through texting and social media). For that reason, I think MLMs should target the lonely Millennials. Anyway, I was a member/distributor of Advocare for over 10 years and still miss the products and the activities in the company, now that I am temporarily out. I still plan to sign up again when I can afford it (long story–I’ll spare you). I am now involved in Melaleuca, and I must say in their defense that Melaleuca’s products are actually not overpriced. Because Preferred Customers are not only not expected, but also NOT ALLOWED to turn around and sell the products at the retail price, everyone pays the same low prices. (Granted, one can indeed go to the website and buy directly from the company if they do not want to become a Preferred Customer. Why would someone do that when the annual membership is only $19? Only if they do not want to commit to the minimum monthly requirement for Preferred Customers.) Public, keep this in mind! Don’t be fooled by the rebels who are selling old Melaleuca products on Amazon for way above the retail price!! You’re much better off buying fresh products directly from the factory, even if you pay retail price. Just sayin. My big question: What about Tupperware? I have been a Tupperware consultant for about 6 months, and I have found it to be extremely difficult to keep business going. The directors training me have said that Tupperware is the second most widely recognized brand name in the world, second only to Coca-Cola. If that is the case, why is it so hard to find people willing to host Tupperware parties? Why does it seem so hard to sell? Also, is it just me…Or, does Tupperware’s compensation plan stink?
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The internet has made it easier than ever for people involved in multilevel marketing (MLM) to find leads or people who might be interested in your product, service, or business. Instead of just reaching out to people you know or approaching strangers, you can create a website, build an email list, leverage social media, and develop referral programs to generate solid leads that can eventually translate to sales.
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