What Should You Look For In An MLM Opportunity
Is that Multi-Level Marketing company right for you?
By Michael L. Sheffield
Shopping for a business opportunity is a lot like shopping for a new car. You must like the color, performance, warranty, price, accessories and customer service if you're going to avoid buyer's remorse in the future. However, unlike making a mistake buying a car, making a mistake in choosing an MLM company may sour you on a wonderful industry that can offer you a tremendous amount of personal joy and financial freedom.
Whether you are looking for a part-time opportunity or a full-time career change, selecting the right business venture is clearly a major part of your formula for success. There are many good opportunities for those willing to work and work hard. Any business that offers real opportunity requires real effort. Unfortunately, many people jump at opportunities based on advertising hype or unsubstantiated promises and are quickly disappointed. You need to separate true potential from the enthusiastic sales pitch of the people who stand to profit from your involvement. They may have taken a leap of faith themselves without having done their own due diligence. Just remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
So, let's make a list of things to look for when searching for the right opportunity. At the top of my list is a quality product or service.
Here's what you should look for in a product or service:
Exciting: If you are personally excited by the products and also use them yourself, your enthusiasm will be your best sales asset.
High quality: Your long-term residual income is based on the product's ability to maintain customer loyalty and deliver on its promises. You'll never have to make an apology for a high-quality product.
Fairly priced: Make sure you or your customers are comparing apples to apples when price-shopping the competition. MLM products don't usually win as the low-cost provider. However, high quality doesn't necessarily mean overpriced.
Lifecycle: Are you at the beginning phase of a new product with a growing and viable market demand?
Unique: If it's "another one just like the other one," you'd better look for a special marketing angle that separates this product from any other similar products out there.
Exclusivity: Be cautious if it's available through other channels of distribution such as catalogs, retail stores or other network marketing companies.
Satisfaction guarantee: A company that doesn't stand behind its product will surely leave you embarrassed or potentially responsible to your customers.
Next let's look at what a good company should provide.
Once you've found a product or service you can believe in, evaluate the company based on your personal needs and beliefs. Here's what to look for:
Sales aids: Make sure the company has promotional literature that adequately promotes retail sales and supports product benefits.
Support materials: Company literature should provide a professional image to support your business activities and be easily understandable.
Policies and procedures document: Read and understand what you can and can't do. These internal distributor regulations are designed to protect the integrity of the business and deal with the occasional renegade distributor who can ruin things for everyone. If the company offers no policies document, heed this as a red flag. This company either hasn't had good MLM legal advice or doesn't plan to stick around very long.
Corporate executives: They should be committed to quality and integrity, and have genuine concern for their distributors. Interview them if possible, or at least talk to other successful distributors for their thoughts. Ask these questions:
Does one or more have experience in MLM?
Are experts involved in areas of administration, financial management, distribution and commissioning software?
Has the company hired professional consultants to help in areas of weakness?
History: How long has the company been in business? How many distributors does it have? What are its gross yearly sales? Is it well funded? How many countries does it operate in? If it's privately held, this information might not be readily available, but it's worth a try.
Compensation plan: Did competent experienced MLM experts design it? Does it sound realistic in its promises? Does it fit your needs for part-time income or a full-time career opportunity? Does the plan use time-tested and proven success concepts, or are you part of an experimental program? Look for proof of success of this concept as used by another MLM company. Have your sponsor or a company official explained it to you in detail.
Philosophy: Does the company philosophy of doing business fit your style and make you feel comfortable and proud to be part of the organization?
Sales and training meetings: Does the company or your upline offer face-to-face or telephone training and other regular support sessions?
Commission software provider: Did a reputable company provide the software that will determine your bonuses? If new software has just been installed, it's not uncommon to see glitches for a period of time that can affect your anticipated income stream.
Communication: Look for good communication in the form of national conference calls, newsletters, voice-mail capabilities, and a strong Web presence using all available communication technologies.
Protection: The only required investment should be a noncommissionable sales kit. All other investments should be optional. Beware of large inventory load enticements or offers to buy positions. Make sure there's a buy-back policy on your unsold inventory, in case things don't work out for you.
Good Reputation: Find out if the company belongs to its local Better Business Bureau. If you have access to a credit reporting service such as Dun & Bradstreet, check it out. Publicly traded companies can be investigated through online services.
You should also contact your industry associations for any input. Call the Direct Selling Association at http://www.dsa.org. You can also contact the Multi-Level Marketing International Association at http://www.mlmia.com.
The right upline sponsor to support you can be equally important.
Just as important as selecting the right company is selecting a competent MLM sponsor. Choose your sponsor just as you would choose an employee to hire. Interview them. What can they do for you to assure your future success? Today, savvy opportunity seekers make potential sponsors meet qualifications in the same way they do with the business opportunity itself. You don't have to join an opportunity under the first person who tries to sign you up.
Also, look upline several levels from your sponsor to determine the type of additional support you'll receive in building your business. You rarely succeed alone. It takes a team effort matched with a good product and support system.
You can't afford to make hasty decisions in choosing a network marketing business. Your time is your life. Waste your time, and you waste your life. Making good decisions means seeking out the facts. It's well worth the effort - it saves you time and money by eliminating the bad choices and finding the winners.
MLM Consultant Michael L. Sheffield is President and CEO of Sheffield Resource Network, a full-service direct sales and Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) consulting firm in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is also a co-founder and chairman emeritus of the Multi-Level Marketing International Association (MLMIA).