It’s a numbers game: False?

Does this mantra encourage us to waste our time with the wrong people? And make those wrong ones sick of us?

Who in sales and marketing hasn’t heard it? “This is a numbers game,” or “Some will some won’t, next.”

This mantra is used to justify buying and contacting hundreds and hundreds of leads. And spending huge amounts of time chasing anyone and everyone online and off, because after all, “everyone wants health and wealth.”

Here’s what I’ve learned: Most of the people we chase are the wrong ones. Try this:

Would you say your product is pretty special? Like say the Apple iPhone or iPod is special?

But does everyone want to pay for a special product like the ones you and Apple have?

Isn’t that why we have Wal-Mart? For cheaper versions of whatever, for those who don’t care enough to have the higher end models?

Those are the same people we call the ‘numbers.’ We’re included. We all have things where nothing but the best will do, and others where we don’t care, so long as it works. We’re someone’s (wrong) number, too.

Anyway, these numbers don’t want us telling them how they should change their values to match ours, and that they should buy the highest end tennis racquet just because we’re selling one.

‘It’s a numbers game’ makes your mission persuade and convince. Mostly the wrong ones. Do you want to keep doing that? Would you want to be at the other end of that kind of treatment?

It’s not a numbers game. It’s a niche game. And actually, it goes deeper – it’s a Lulu game.

The game is describing a single person. Someone just like you, with a family, worries, often frustrated and desperate, overweight. She cares about fitness and health, she’d love a chance to market a product like what you have, because she’d love using it herself and already uses something similar.

Lulu already belongs to a gym, already reads labels, health sites and magazines. She has two part-time jobs trying to make ends meet.

So in the end, good marketing is a person game – a Lulu or Archie game.

You describe the values of Lulu. The habits of Lulu. The worries of Lulu. So no, I don’t mean a group’s demographic descriptions.

Start on that person’s description; begin with yourself. With that write up, call Lulu’s name in your ads and promotions, and she will respond. As will others like her. Leave the rest alone.


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About the author

Kim Klaver


  • Kim,
    Wonderful post. I agree very much that people buy people not so much the products.

    Something I’ve heard and knew to be true is that the “riches are in the niches.”

    However I love your perspective that although that is true, it is prudent to connect with that person on a personal level 1st and be empathetic to their problem and committed to their solutions.

    Thank you for the post!

  • Great stuff Kim.

    I heard a similar concept the other day on Eben Pagan’s ‘Get Altitude’ program. He talks about creating a customer avatar (Lulu), and also a business avatar and creating a dialog between the two of them (more specifically a timeline of actions and dialogs between the two).


  • Agreed when running ads but not everyone chooses to run ads.

    I’m ok w/ calling it a ‘numbers game’ to start out with when talking about choosing to have converstaions with others. i.e. (If you don’t run ads) and if you talk to no one, the numbers will not work in your favor. If you choose to talk to people and learn about them and their wants, desires etc, then the more you choose to talk to (learn about), the better the chances of some of those people wanting to try your product etc.

    That’s what I understand the ‘numbers’ to mean. Talk to no one, fail. Talk to people (about what they want)and if you talk to enough and listen well, you can eventually succeed.

    Certainly if the conversation does not lend itself to any kind of mention about your product or business, then you’ve not ‘turned anyone off’, you change the subject, continue talking to them about other things, yet you’re still working the numbers. That one just happen to be a ‘wrong’ number. I can still enjoy my conversation with ‘wrong numbers’ very much because I love learning about people even if they aren’t a fit for what I have or do.

    I have a fairly sizeable orgnaization and based on the success or lack thereof of certain people I work with, I can tell you the ones who talk to more people (numbers)(not necessarily mentiong their product or biz…depends on how the conversation goes) grow faster and have an exciting business. The ones don’t, don’t.

    Ultimately, once you’re working with the right people, our biz is anything but a numbers game in that it’s about relationships and solid ones at that. But to start out with, I’d say numbers of conversations to learn about people is very important to finding the ‘niche’ people you seek.

    My .02 on the numbers discussion 😉

  • Tony and Darren – thanks!

    Cathy –


    I was thinking of the hundreds of ‘biz-op’ leads lists new recruits are pitched to buy and either call or email. Thousands of names, often.

    With ads, at least one can provide a description of Lulu.

    Regarding being out and about and having conversations, indeed if someone’s a people person (how many is that these days?) then “having conversations” is a good thing.

    But I wonder if “the more the better” might be eclipsed by having conversations with the sorts of people who might have an interested in your thing in the first place.

    E.g. Going to health group get-togethers, fitness, longevity, eco-groups, entrepreneur groups, you get the idea.

    Having many conversations with such pre-chosen types of folks might reduce the total number of conversations one needs to have.

    Perhaps more efficient.


    Of course those who are not people people have to go online or use ads, where describing Lulu will be very helpful in getting her to respond.

  • Kim,

    I was taught over and over that it’s a numbers game and the SWSWSW stuff and not to worry about people who say no, that it was just another step on the way to a yes. It about ran me out of the industry.

    I’m just now learning that it’s more about relationships than products. I’m figuring out that if I listen to the other person without an agenda, then I can determine if the person needs what I have. If they don’t, then that’s OK.

    But it’s more than that. It’s caring about the person even if they don’t need your product or service. The numbers game depersonalizes this business so much that it turns people off. When we teach people to only focus on numbers, we’re really encouraging people not to care about other people. In fact, the exact opposite should be our focus.

    Thanks for your leadership in this area.

  • Dear Kim,

    With over four decades of direct sales experience, the “it’s a numbers game” has a definite meaning to me.

    It was usually an antidote to a bad day because of poor results;
    an attitude protector against discouragement. It is also used when a salesperson has to work their way out of a slump.

    Fishnets are made with certain size holes to govern the size of the fish caught. Furthermore, in some places nets are illegal; only a hook is permitted. But then in some circumstances a spear is allowed.

    I have noticed that new marketers want to cast a net a square mile in size made out of window screening. The anybody with a pulse mentality is parroted by their upline. Practiced veterans prefer the spear approach.

    Perhaps it is fear, ignorance, or lack of confidence that prohibits a focused approach. Not enough Lulus around for everyone, so a couple of Ninnies have to be converted to Lulus now and then. Oh what a waste of time and money.

    The new pitcher always gets a few practice throws even though he just left the bullpen. So in defense of Cathy’s comments, a little practice may be a good thing. I have always thought of cold calling biz opp leads as a good practice venture.

    Kim, you and I both know that the folks able to engage a stranger in conversation and turn it toward their topic of choice are very, very few. Don’t we say about one in 100? Even that ‘one’ usually has some practice callouses.

    Kim, I have been fine tuning the 60 second commercial I use weekly in my BNI chapter to describe Lulu down to the color of her hair and what she wears. The more specific I am the better the quality of the referral. You don’t need a barrel full of leads when you can get a few referrals that have an 80% or better probability of closing.

    In conclusion I would say it often is a numbers game for a beginner, but not the pro. As usual, your stuff is right-on, Ms. Stud!

    Batter up!,

    Tom Doiron

  • Great info Kim! You hit it right on point that when marketing our product/opportunity, we should advertise to the Lulu’s of the world, someone who will appreciate the product and health benefits first hand, then will spread the word as a living testimony for others who are looking for the same. In this lucrative business, its all about targeting the right people and when you do it the kim klaver way, watch your business grow like never before;)

  • I’ve always thought that “It’s a numbers game,” was the dumbest statement made in network marketing. All of business is a numbers game, no matter what business you’re talking about. The more people you have buying your products or service the more money you make. However, if you treat people as numbers you will lose the numbers game. Provide value to your customers and distributors and they will be good to you.

  • Kim,

    You said:
    E.g. Going to health group get-togethers, fitness, longevity, eco-groups, entrepreneur groups, you get the idea.

    Having many conversations with such pre-chosen types of folks might reduce the total number of conversations one needs to have.

    I couldn’t agree more! and not ‘might’, as you know , it definitely does reduce the total conversations and a very smart way to work. I have a few teams who do just that and they are very pleased with their results. Some work health oriented home shows, some visit upscale privatley owned ‘salons’ who embrace a wholeistic approach to things and especially w/ one of our products which tends to have a higher acceptance in general…the % that ‘lean forward’ is far far higher than just conversing w the average Joe on the street who is usually more interested in saving $ than saving their bodies.

    Great point!

  • I have to say that I agree with Tom. Being in my first and still the same, network marketing company for 7 1/2 years, my beginning years were far different from where I am at today.

    Today I am looking to disqualify rather than prequalify people for my time. My time is precious and even though I do very much believe in the “links to leaders” theory I am far less interested in the “carnage” left from it.

    I know that when bringing on new people they will “link” whether I like it or not and they will develop into a leader if they have the heart and drive or develop it.

    I have given up on who I think “will” and who I believe “won’t” these days but I agree with Tom, I am using a spear these days and looking to develop leaders.

    John C. Maxwell said it best, “People are like rubber bands, they are most usefull when they are stretched.”

    Tom we know that people have much more of a microwave mentallity than they did 3 decades ago and the masses are much less willing to stretch. The “Have it now with no hard work” seems to be rampid.

    It’s a process and I see myself as the conduit of that process for those I choose to work with.

    I live by and stand by People buy people not so much the product in the beginning. You just have to be aware of who you are selling yourself to and be careful.

    They just may want to buy.

    Thanks for the great site Kim!

  • Kim, the ‘numbers game’ comment is a killer as far as I’m concerned. And I say that because it darn near killed me.

    My introduction to MLM came through a group that idolized a leader famous for his “Some will, some won’t, so what. Next!” philosophy. “Hold a mirror up to their nose, if it fogs, they’re alive and a prospect.”

    We were always told it’s just numbers. But it’s not. At least not for everyone.

    I tried to buy into that concept because I thought that’s what it was all about. That’s what our leaders taught. However, saying it’s just a numbers game is too dehumanizing for me. It’s not about numbers; it’s about people’s lives.

    The vast majority who read your blog will likely agree. It’s partly about personality types. If you know Myers-Briggs, I’m an INFP, which means I’m a “feeling” type. There are other people who can make do with the SWSWSW approach, but I suspect they’re not the type that would be reading and benefiting from your blog.

    I’ve been in and out of this industry for quite a while without much success. I’ve always thought it made sense, but I was uncomfortable with the approaches being taught. It wasn’t until I started reading this blog, seeing the kinder, gentler side to MLM, and coming to understand myself a little better that I began to understand issues I was having.

    Steve Devane is right on with his comments. Teaching it’s a numbers game shows a distinct lack of caring about people. And that’s bizarre when, at its best, MLM is really a people-building opportunity.

    Thanks for your work, Kim, in making MLM more about people and relationships than throwing mud against a wall and seeing what sticks.

  • Hi Kim,

    You’re both right and wrong.

    You’re right a niche is a much easier way to not only get the right people but to dominate in your company.

    For example if you break down your company into a niche, you’re going to be competing against a lot less agents in your company. Generalist web sites for example don’t have a lot of traction but specialists web sites do. Google even is more likely to consider specialists as experts so they are more likely to get higher search engine rankings.

    So yes a niche is a very powerful thing. I happen to dominate a few niches for my company so I can speak to this. I get leads daily that seek me out. I NEVER cold call or buy leads or spam or any of that junk. I’m dealing with people that have requested information from me already about my product or my opportunity.

    Now to disagree.

    It still is a numbers game.

    You KNOW this. You state yourself that most of the top distributors in any company can trace back the majority of their income to 3 or less people.

    Even if we talk about customers many of them won’t be big spenders but a few will.

    If we talk about distributors many will give up or drop out, a handful will be workers, and only a very few will be leaders.

    So even if you have a niche, there is still a numbers game. The good news is if you have a niche you’re going to spend less time looking for those people.

    BTW I’m going to put together a 6 month long training on finding and building your niche. If anyone wants more information or wants to help me name the site I’d appreciate it.

    – Ben Fitts

  • Thanks all –

    Tim – the trouble with saying ‘it’s about relationships’ is that this tells the new recruit nothing about what and how they should build their business.

    Being given hundreds of leads about whom one knows nothing, and then being told to “build a relationship” with them seems to me an utter waste of time. Good practice for picking up the phone, perhaps, but almost ridiculous in terms of having any expectations of success – in today’s market place.

    I am for reducing the numbers to those are are in a person’s niche to begin with. then there is little need to “create” a relationship because by virtue of one’s shared interested, there already IS one.

    Like Harvard grads meeting in San Francisco, or tennis players meeting at the tennis club.

    There’s something established already, and that reduces the numbers of unlike people to talk to – that’s the idea I am putting out there.

    Also reduces the number of people in general, to talk to.

    Also makes easier building on a relationship that already exists by virtue of pre-existing interest.

    Consider all the friendships being expressed by the Obama supporters, meeting each other all over country because of one shared concern: they want to see Obama as the next President. If a networker who were an Obama (or Clinton or McCain) big supporter were to attend those things, I’d guess they’d have a head start on getting the ear of others, at least for a referral or two.


  • Absolutey….. We are all Walmart consumers for some products, but never for others.

    “Jackie” will load her basket with everything under the sun, including her vitamins, but would not dream of buying a pair of jeans at Walmart. She won’t even look!!

    The better we can identify people who are just like us and find that niche, the more success we will have.

    We are the people looking for a business opportunity, the extra paycheck, a way to stay home with our children, but we are also the people who realize we must train and work hard giving our business time to mature. That’s who we want!

    Brenda Bunney

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