Is it like selling them pots and pans?

Selling pots and pans door to door is not easy. But direct sales people can do very well indeed. Plus they meet lots of people and hear lots of stories.

Selling a network marketing business, i.e. recruiting, seems similar to direct sales – we’re approaching people with something special to buy. Some people say there’s no difference. What’s your take?

Is recruiting someone (selling them the business) like selling them a pot?

Why did you vote like you did?

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About the author

Kim Klaver


  • Recruiting someone to get involved in a network marketing business is like selling someone pots and pans because it usually involves talking them into it. They have to be coerced into signing up.

    Most people don’t like to sell and don’t realize how tough it can be. So that aspect is glossed over and the emphasis is put on how much money can be made and of course, The Dream.

    Paul Eilers

  • Mine is more like selling them the “tea” that goes in the teapot or the Fruits & Veggies that go in the pan it’s a consumeable product so the customer keeps on ordering:)


  • Nada! This is one I can speak to with authority. PPL has direct sales divisions and network marketing divisions and success in one does not translate into success in the other. Since this blog is to help mlm associates, with that goal in mind here is my take on the difference: A skilled direct sales person can indeed sell the business opportunity, but it will not duplicate. They will not build depth in their organization. The mlm person who succeeds ideally will find others who see the opportunity WITHOUT being encouraged to move ahead while still uncertain(ie sold). Then they will run with it and find others who will do the same, and depth results over time. Of course, any one who is studying Kim’s material already knows this!
    All the best,

  • Harvey Mackay once said, “Beware the necked man who tries to sell you his shirt.”

    Many sincere people are talked into or sold the idea of signing up with an insincere network marketing company, not realizing that the emperor has no clothes.

    Paul Eilers

  • While there are radical differences between selling pots and pans, and selling a distributorship, intrinsically they both are the same.

    You create value and help the potential “buyer” see how what you have to offer aligns with what they want, or what will benefit them.

    Walter Reade (from Wisconsin)

  • I want to expand on what I wrote above.

    It’s December. You’re prospect doesn’t want to think about joining your business until January.

    You can do three things.

    (1) Say “okay” and call them in Januray.

    (2) “Sell” them on your program by telling them how great your company is, and how your products are the best, and how your comp plan is wonderful.

    OR . . .

    (3) You can help them see the benefit of joining now.

    How do you do 3?

    You could mention that the best months in this industry are Jan, Feb, and March, because people start the year wanting to make more than last year, and are open to starting a business. And you could ask them if they would rather get started before the growth phase, during the growth phase, or after the growth phase. Most would want to start before the best months.

    You could also remind them that their start-up costs could qualify as a tax deduction for this year if they join before January.

    Is explaining this to the prospect selling? Not in the traditional sense.

    If it’s not right for them then so be it. No need to twist arms. But if it is right for them, you have just aligned your objective (getting a new distributor) with something that benefits your prospect.

    And you’ll get better results.

    Walter Reade (from Wisconsin)

  • What does it mean to sell “pots and pans”? There are specialty stores that only carry a wide variety of just pots and pans – and accessories.

    So IF someone is looking to buy pots and pans, and wants to go and actually touch, feel, lift, and experience the variety of choices to make an informed decision, it is a real blessing to see the whole array of choices in a pots and pans store.

    And of course, Ms and/or Mr Consumer will have googled extensively to find out all about the varieties and differences of the various lines of pots and pans.

    Not everyone, of course, can go to a specialty pots and pans store.

    So then it is a real service if a pots and pans sales person comes around and custom demonstrates an excellent line of pots and pans – and even delivers them.

    And gives follow up service.

    I bought a Kirby vacuum way back when from a door-to-door salesman. I have been thrilled with that purchase for at least 10 years. I never would have known about all the specialty features of that very fine vacuum if someone had not gone out, braved the snow, wind, unknown roads, doors slammed in the face – to find consumers – such as me – who really did need an excellent vacuum and just didn’t know where nor have the time to find one.

    I am very grateful for that service.

    Similar to selling a biz opp “door to door” – so to speak. We reps go out and trot out our wares to various and sundry.

    Some will be actively looking and be delighted to encounter us.

    Some will not have known such opps existed, so will be amazed and delighted to hear our opps.

    And some, of course, will have been burned, be bitter, negative, and such, and slam the door in our face. And even warn their neighbors that we are coming.

    But that is all OK — it is all in the game.

    We only need a few of the right connections as we search the Acres of Diamonds to find our special few that form life-long friendships and learning experiences on the journey of our home biz lifestyles.

    Pat Crosby

  • I don’t think selling the concept of the business to a prospect is like selling a pot –or, a whole set of pots and pans, for that matter.

    I have heard the suggestion that joining a MLM business is about the same as making another small purchase (like a set of pots). Which suggests the psychology of the purchase might be the same because of the price involved, a couple hundred dollars (give or take), in the big picture, is not like buying a car or a home or a McDonalds franchise.

    I feel the psychology of joining a MLM business is much closer to the psychology of a large purchase –a home or a car, or a brick and mortar business.

    Some folks make the mistake of trivializing the act of joining a MLM because the price is low.

    The decision to join a MLM is no small decision. A large commitment is required, in terms of time, financial and other resources. There is much risk. Risk of ones reputation, for example, among family and friends, and co-workers.

    Trivialize this to an intelligent prospect and he or she is likely to feel insulted and run away from you.

  • I guess the real answer lies in whether you’re old school or new school.

    I don’t think recruiting someone to get involved in network marketing is like selling pots and pans because, while both do require additional effort to reap the benefits, network marketing requires making sacrifices of either time spent doing other things (i.e., with family or playing on the internet, or even in a second J.O.B.), or, money to invest in the business, especially time saving tools. When you sell someone a pot or pan, you may be selling the idea of a better dinner, but the person (recruit) is still going to be cooking, so there’s no sacrifice other than the initial purchase. When you recruit someone into network marketing, the recruit needs to invest time and effort and sometimes money (not always) in their business.
    I think old school would compare the pot to the dream (no offense Paul), but new school would give full disclosure and reveal that buying this pot is like buying the rights to making pots. You may get all the ingredients and parts and directions, but you’ve got to do the actual work yourself before you get to reap the benefits of owning the pot.

  • They are not even close. Pots, pans, vacuum cleaners, and encyclopedias (those were the days) are all products that you can sell door to door. You’re not selling the business, your selling a product. And those are generally one time buys. Most of our products are consumables and are sold in monthly increments that we receive “residual” income from.

    If you are comparing the “seller” aspect of door-to-door and Network Marketing, I’d rather work from home. I can still meet people and offer them a product that (1) I love and (2) they might love – all from the comforts of my home.

  • Kim, in my opinion, selling a product or a service requires an entirely different skill set than recruiting and/or leading someone in a sales/network marketing business.

    There are some very good direct sales people who can’t really recruit all that well. As a person moves from a player (selling a product), to a player coach (selling a product and recruiting/managing an organization), to only a coach (leading and training a downline), the premium on a different set of skills grows propotionately.

    Not everyone wants or is capable of making such a transition. I have known a number of people over the years who were making good money who walked away from network marketing, because they simply wanted to sell, and not have to deal with all the demands of recruiting and leading others besides themselves.

    So sure, in a general sense it might be the same in that they both involve sales/marketing, but the specific skill sets involved are very different.

    Then there is the question of how you are selling. The best sales people rarely go door to door anymore. They, like us, are simply looking for people who will raise their hand when we call their name. Nonetheless, managing a customer base is very different from managing a recruit base, even though both activities fall under the general rubric of selling.


  • Hi Kim,

    A pot, not pot….right?

    Yes selling pots and pans is just like recruiting someone for a network marketing opportunity.

    Selling cookware is easier because the benefits can be demonstrated. In recruiting the benefits are intangible so that is why you see all the check waving.

    Regardless of the product or service, sales have more things in common than things that are differences.

    All our sophisticated professional network marketing comrades would hardly want to compare the life altering service they promote to selling pots and pans. I won’t rain on their parade.

    What’s cooking?
    Tom Doiron

  • Kim,

    I meant to add that most will say no, because they don’t think of themselves as salespeople of any kind. After all, they are taught to tell folks that this business isn’t selling, it’s shaaarrring. No one likes a salesperson. Only 1 in 100 would want to do something resembling sales work.

    Happy sharing,
    Tom Doiron

  • Hate to sound like a broken record but if you identify your customer and work toward that end you wouldn’t have to convince anyone of anything.

    Build a system that makes the prospect do their due diligence incrementally – Make sure they appreciate what it means to be an entrepreneur and build a business then lead them through but don’t spend time trying to convince them – they will be your child – not your business partner if you do that.

    The only comparison with our business and the door to door salesman is that there is no impulse buying. So plug them in to an automatic system where they get repeated spaced repetition to new ideas.

    If that doesn’t work find different prospects who fit your demographic.

    Juliette Gray

  • As others have already said, selling pots and pans is selling a product only. No chance of extra income for the customer. Selling a business gives the person a chance to become an entrepreneur, not just a customer.

    Either way, it all boils down to one simple sentence, at least in my experience. He or she who talks to the most people wins. Period.

    I still laugh when I hear people say they “got burned” in this or that mlm. The only people I’ve ever seen “get burned” are those who didn’t go through enough people to find even those required to pay for their own monthly auto-ship. They simply didn’t do enough work to get to the point in the learning curve where their paycheck catches up with their efforts. If people stick to it long enough, and talk to enough people, it will always catch up.

    Pots, pans, or business, doesn’t matter. He or she who talks to the most people wins.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  • Oh Roxanne,

    Your statement, “I don’t know why anyone would “sell” the business anyway. So no, it’s absolutely not like selling pots & pans.”

    Ever read or heard Brian Tracey?

    You must have a very narrow definition of “sell”, Roxanne.

    Please tell us how you would describe the process between your first contact with a prospect and a completed enrollment(paper or online)for your business.

    Tom Doiron

  • I think people will be more apt to buying a product than they would be a business opportunity. People who want to have their own business are in a different frame of mind, or at least they should be. I think for one to be successful, they would require a different mindset. One thing that has been identified is there is a difference between employee mentality versus business owner mentality. We definitely want to connect with people who understand and embrace the differences. Buying high quality “cookware” is not the same as considering a business opportunity. Heck, I even went to work with the cookware company I bought from at one point and guess what? I failed miserably at that compared to what I do with my network marketing business. I made a few sales here and there with the cookware and granted they were $2600-$3200 sales, but there was a lot of No’s too (‘cuz for whatever reason, I wasn’t very good at the presentation part even though I still to this day feel very strongly about their products). However with network marketing I am quite capable of sharing my business in a way that people want what I have.

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