Apr 27, 2017

Speaking of MLMs...

I know I just wrote about this not too long ago, but I had another run in and thus another rant!

It all started one not-so-special morning as I attended a "6-top" networking event.  The idea being that only 6 people come, all from different industries, and the focus is more on getting to know each other and come up with ideas for each other than direct sales.

Awesome, awesome.  Best networking event I'd been to.  Everyone actually listened to each other, all were super supportive, and I left with a few ideas and 2 people I wanted to follow up with.

One of those 2 contacts suggested a coffee meeting at Purebread to discuss collaboration activities, which I happily accepted because I <3 Purebread and because I was genuinely interested in his business development services.

The meeting began very smoothly.  BDG (Business Development Guru, as I have nicknamed him for the convenience of this post) was reading a book when I came in, I asked about it, and then we chatted for a full 15 minutes about business self help books and it was awesome.  The conversation moved on to networking events, and then into his clients (who are also my target market - startups and entrepreneurs) and the type of work I was looking to do.  Then, an unexpected hitch.

Multi-level marketing.

I was actually quite surprised when he said, "I don't think this is for you, but I ask everyone I meet to watch this 5-minute presentation."  But what's a girl to do?  I watched it.  It was unique in that it was service based rather than a product, but the end result is the same - as a customer I get x benefit, but as a sales person I get x times y benefits!

Afterwards BDG asked, "Did you understand all that?" and when I said it was the first service-based MLM structure I'd seen, he seemed surprised at that insight.  Not the insight itself, the fact that I had had the insight.  Evidently I wasn't as stupid as BDG expected me to be, but he re-explained the video anyway.  Then he made his pitch.

"I've got 3 options for you. 1) You become a customer 2) You become a sales person 3) You tell me which of your friends and family might be interested."

I hate this because it's a false choice.  It's an obnoxious sales tactic to try to make you feel forced into choosing something that's NOT your only option.  But this wasn't my first rodeo with an MLM-er.

"I'll just be honest with you - I don't think I'm going to follow up with any of those options.  What I AM interested in is your business development services."

Feeling somewhat proud of myself for turning the conversation, I figured that would be it.  Because why sell me on the MLM when he had another legitimate service that I point-blank told him I was interested in?

But after running around in loops without giving me any pricing information for business services, we did run back to the MLM topic.  BDG wanted to know why I wasn't interested.  This I was not prepared for.  As you may recall, in the last post I said that you shouldn't make excuses because that gives the sales person an opening to "solve" your problem and keep selling to you.  Since I was flustered I said something about not wanting to take the time to research and set this up.  And then we dove back into the sales pitch ("It only takes 15 seconds!"), where I asked questions BDG couldn't answer and he said mansplain-y, condescending things like, "You catch on quick!" and "You can't believe everything you read online."

I then told BDG my real reservations - MLM overwhelm and feeling skeptical of that business model.  I don't know what reaction I expected, but it wasn't for him to get offended and start muttering about trust and how he was just trying to provide for his son's college.

Guess what, dude.  You can't guilt me into buying from you.  You can however, piss me off.

The only thing I left that meeting with was a bad taste in my mouth and the determination to not do business with BDG, in any capacity.

Thinking about it still makes my head buzz, which I guess is some weird kind of fight-or-flight response, BUT I'm not sorry that I went.  Because A) I had no way of knowing how it would turn out and I need to keep going after opportunities even if some don't pan out and B) I really do think it's good practice for me to keep saying no to people.  My first response was good, "I'm not interested" and now I just need a better response when they ask why.  Something that manages to be polite but avoids reopening the conversation.

Any ideas?  What sales tactics bother you the most and how do you deal with them?

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  1. Rude! How outrageous that he wouldn't discuss the legitimate business because he had to sell the MLM :( I can't do anything involving sales...I don't have the patience or arrogance to convince someone they just "have" to have/do/etc whatever I'm selling. Major props for flat-out saying no. That ability is so underrated.

  2. Reading this made me cringe non-stop! It definitely sounds like he went into it trying to trick you into signing up for something, hoping you wouldn't realize what he was doing, and then used the whole guilt thing as his last option when he realized you weren't going to just blindly go along with what he was saying. You should definitely be proud of yourself for attempting to redirect him.

  3. Ugh. That exchange totally annoyed me. It sounds like HE wasn't very business savvy- you were interested in something he had and, instead of being happy about that and focusing on that, he tried to sell you on X, Y, & Z. Moron =/
    As the wife of someone who created a business from nothing, MLM "businesses" frustrate the hell out of me. I certainly don't fault people for making money or wanting to further their careers, but being a business owner and selling via the scheme that is MLM is NOT the same thing...........
    I have friends that sell stuff, and I respect them and their choices, but it's definitely in a different category than traditional business ownership.

  4. Firstly, I want to say your takeaways from this experience are perfect--so glad you're not letting it be a signal to stop trying. Your response was perfect, and he is a straight-up goon for pulling that bait and switch. Seriously, the MLMs NEED to calm the eff down. I get it, you're trying to send your kid to college, or bring in extra income, etc. etc. But you know who else is doing that? Literally everyone else who has a job or is trying to work or freelance or earn extra income, *EVEN IF* part of the job isn't sobbing on FB to friends and family about the ~hustle~. I've had enough of these people acting like they're special cases for needing money. Newsflash: everyone needs more money. Some of us just have more tact than to hit up friends and family for it under the guise of entrepreneurship.

    Also, I actually was going to text you yesterday because I read something about this doc, but I wanted to watch it first because I don't want to waste your time with a potentially crappy movie, but since we're on the subject: bettingonzeromovie.com -- it's about Herbalife and how it's the biggest pyramid scheme ever. #relevant

  5. MLM is everywhere now and it's so annoying because half the time you don't know someone's coming to you with it until you've already chatted with them or added them on some social network. It's made me very distrustful because I feel like new people are trying to sell me something sometimes. It's in real life, it's online, you can't get away from it. Also, that's a crappy way for him to react - guilting someone is the worst way to sell something. I think you would like to put your kid through college, too, but that is irrelevant to how you do business - ugh. At least you had some positive takeaways from it - saying no is good practice.


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