Saturday, February 17, 2007

Does it matter if you're real?

This past week, I had lunch on two separate occasions with friends who are embarking on business ventures involving direct selling, (multi-level marketing, pyramid etc). One was trying to sell me, one was just updating me on his progress. What struck me was there was a "little" deception going on with each.

From the selling friend I experienced this...

Like many MLM situations, there must be a 'product' to sell. That's a given. You need to open that door and your good looks won't cut it. But, once that door is open there isn't much conversation about the product anymore. It turns quickly to money. If you don't bring it up, they will - it's the crack of their business. The product was Identity Theft protection coupled with pre-paid legal. Nice fit.

I asked the question- do you make more cash selling the product or by recuiting? BINGO, I could tell this question had been asked before as the facilitiator scribbled out the chart backwards. (this told me he's done this example before). He quickly hopped into how lucrative the scenario could be. Everybody up the ladder benefits. Old story, same ending.

With the selling friend I left the meeting feeling that he's drop a notch or two with regards to my respect for him. I was lured to the meeting through the premise of learning more on ID theft. The 2 young guys on either side of me who were half my age sucked it up like Pepsi through a straw. I was impressed by their presentation, my friend played the straight man to the facilitator. Why are good people drawn to situations where there has to be some initial deception to get you to listen?

I've been in business for about 25 years now, and I always believe you should be as honest as possible and deliver value. I am currently beta-testing a DIY version of my branding process and the number one thing that I asked of one of the companies that is trying out my product is: "Can this help deliver a genuine solution?" My brand - corporate and personal is key for me. I sometimes do business on a handshake because my word is my bond. I don't want to use deception to get a meeting with you, I want you to meet with me because there is a genuine interest in what I may have to offer. I don't want to talk to anyone who may not want to talk to me.

You will do better business, with stronger lasting relationships if you initiate it honestly. Care about the customers success and strive to offer additional value every step of the way. I have no problem with direct selling businesses so long as it is balanced. Good product, great service and superb follow-up. You also benefit with a selling network with the same high values. All I heard at the meeting was a focus on recruting your way to riches and any customer issues are handled by the system in place. You don't have to care. You focus on recruiting - the money.

To me being real, means having integrity and delivering value for what you have a passion doing OR am I naive?


Anonymous said...

You're not naive at all Ed.

This is precisely why MLM schemes have such a bad name - the deception that initiates a meeting. If the people selling were 100% up-front about how things work then there'd be no misleading or confusion along the way.

It's interesting, I've been living in the UK for most of my life, and have come across one person trying to sell me an MLM scheme. I lived in the US for three months and found two. Perhaps the market is a lot larger over your side for this type of business?

Ed Roach said...

David I personally don't have much of a problem with MLM as a concept in generating income - so long as t's honest. You are certainly correct in regards to the initial meeting - it needs work. It baffles me as to why deception is considered the best way to go. The meeting I attended was a little under-handed. Greed makes you blind I guess.

Marcia said...

When I was younger and got that lead feeling in my gut that there was some deceit in a situation -- like when the cool girls wanted to play with me because I had the new toy -- I didn't know what to do with that feeling, and I swallowed it.

Now, when I get that gut feeling of something not quite right, I walk away. I'm with you, Ed -- let's do business on the up and up.

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