"I’ve never met so many well-intentioned liars…"

I just heard from a gal who’s quitting the business. “Finally.” What pushed her over the edge? She wrote:

“…I’ve had enough of the brick walls – firstly the brick wall of people thinking you’re scamming them, then the brick wall of company training… the rah-rah parade of people who’ve ‘made’ it, the ‘make a list of your closest 100’, the ‘visualize your future dream island’ – I was always trying to find the hay amongst the sticks after every training…

“The finally is that I don’t want a lifestyle of dodging BS – I’ve never met so many well-intentioned liars than since I joined this industry…”

My question to you concerns two points she makes.

1. “The brick wall of people thinking you’re scamming them”
2. “I’ve never met so many well-intentioned liars than since I joined this industry…”

1. As you honestly consider these two comments, away from the hoopla, what does your own experience say?

We all know what she means well-intentioned liars, don’t we? Lydia tells her prospect, “Oh, I’m doing great! The product sells itself!” -when she’s is barely hanging on and is telling her upline she’s ready to quit at the same time. Is telling prospects that it’s better and easier than it is, our industry’s group-speak?

(The gal who wrote this added this about her own husband: “I saw my husband doing it and it was awful… and it was hard work convincing him ‘no promises, no problems’ was better (but he got it eventually).”)

Vote results so far here.


A) How can we present the business so that people do NOT think they’re being scammed?

B) How can we discourage our people from being “well-intentioned liars” in the way described above?

About the author

Kim Klaver


  • People will not think they are being scammed when you show them a legitimate business model, one that is based on the sale of products and services.

    Show them how many customers they need to have to make $300 a month, $2,000 a month and so on.

    Mainly, though, eliminate the hype and promises. These things are associated with the network marketing industry. When you are matter-of-fact, people do not even ask, “Is it one of those things?”

    People only do what is being taught and modeled for them by the leadership of their respective companies. The culture of the “well-intentioned liars” is tough to change. You either have to deal with it, find another company, or quit the industry all together.

    Paul Eilers

  • Unfortunately, just like everywhere else in the world, there are people who do business this way. I see it every day. People come to me and tell me that their sponsor told them that they could make “big money” and “easy money”.

    Sometimes what is easy for one person TO do is just as easy for another NOT to do. I see people on my own team who have told me that “it doesn’t work for me”. Then I ask them what exactly they have been doing and it’s not even what we teach.

    They started sponsoring people and then decided that they would re-invent the wheel. This permeates through their organization. This is where the “well-intentioned liars” come in. They get a method of doing the business from their upline or create it themselves and others run with it.

    It happens everywhere. I would recommend (and DO recommend) to anyone wanting to join anyone (including myself) in this business to stop, take your time and make a decision. If anyone is pressuring you into “Make a decision NOW” or “get in before it’s too late” then they are most likely one of those “well-intentioned liars”.

    We’re not all like that. Tell people the truth. Tell them exactly what they need to do to make a certain amount (the amount THEY choose to make) then help them implement a plan. If your company doesn’t have a plan, then find someone who can teach you a plan. Offer people a buffet table of ideas, let them pick what resonates best with them and help them put it into action.


  • Dear Kim,

    At least your gal recognized that she didn’t want to participate. Sadly she couldn’t find a way around the crap to use a more noble approach.

    I am looking at a start up company that is very remarkable in many ways, but exactly want your writer described. I sit at the business briefings and remind myself that I do not have to follow their example.

    I have always had an interest in cars and had often thought I would enjoy selling them. All the bad PR about the car biz kept me away for many years. I was invited to represent a luxury make and entered the industry. Regrettably, it was even worse than I had imagined. On one occasion as I entered the New Car Sales Manager’s office, he was hanging up the phone. Dan looked at me and said, “I get paid to lie to people”. Shortly after this incident he resigned and left a decade of the car business behind him.

    It can be done. Rise above the stink, that is. However, some times you still carry a faint odor with you. Guilty by association some say. This is why I believe a person has to be “thick skinned” to survive our industry. I learned some years back that I can not do it the Old School way. I am determined to succeed without its hype and lies. I am not trying to be negative. I watch presenters and I can see the expectation of riches twisting their character as they speak to their audience. Maybe it is like the ‘self glory’ from the winner’s circle.

    Kim, I have to say that I believe the behavior this gal outlined is entrenched in our industry. Likewise resistance to the MLM concept is very common among our potential partners. As I have mentioned before, some will even back away from a purchase if they see an association with MLM. Our challenge is to promote the New School attitude and demonstrate that it is very different from their preconceived notions. Only those like you and your start up, have a chance to build a truly different model from the ground up.

    How do I smell?
    Tom Doiron

  • I believe it’s “well-intentioned liars” that make the job more difficult for the rest of us.

    False income claims…
    Stating a product sells itself…
    Sugar coating the whole industry…

    Many of us working the business are still feeling the pain of past companies who cast shadows on the entire industry making ‘pyramid scheme’ a household name.

    It’s a shame! I started in this industry back in 1993 and I was enticed by “well-intentioned liars” and coaxed to join companies that were not my passion. I fell for OTHER people’s passions, which led to the trap of non-leaders, with no training or support. Which resulted in me quitting several companies.

    I SWORE I’d never get into this industry again, however it happened in 2004. The difference. I found MY passion.

    I went from the 98% to the 2%… the light bulb started glowing for me and I ‘got it’. I understood how this industry works.

    As part of my new found interest for the MLM industry, I vowed not to be ‘one of them’; meaning I was not going to be a ‘slam bam thank you ma’am’ recruiter. I dedicate myself to help my team members get where they want to be.

    The key is, those people have to WANT it bad like me. Someone without passion simply won’t make it in MLM. No ifs, ands or buts about it.

    I tell people the truth about the industry. If you put in a little, you’ll get a little, if you put in a lot, you’ll get a lot; BUT ONLY if you believe in yourself and dedicate yourself to growing your business.

    NO a product won’t sell itself, the presentation is key and it’s a lot more than saying ‘it cost $20’. Education and excitement are winners in this industry, but it has to come from the heart.

    No sugar coating, I make the point very clear that it is not a ‘if you build it they will come’ industry and to expect blood, sweat and tears as they grow their new business.

    Rome was not built in a day, neither is a MLM empire…

    Many of the “well-intentioned liars” I’ve come across over the years are short lived in the industry as they feel they have to ‘lie’ in order to get somewhere.

    In reality, honesty is the best policy!

    ~Alethea Anderson

  • Alethea:
    You write: “Many of us working the business are still feeling the pain of past companies who cast shadows on the entire industry making ‘pyramid scheme’ a household name.”

    It’s also the individuals, who today, across most all companies, within 5 minutes, in the same meeting, will tell a prospect how “Everything’s going great! This is really easy and the product sells itself!” and then turn to their upline on the other side moments later and say “they’re falling out faster than I can bring them in! I don’t know WHAT to do!”

    Between 1)pretending every thing is great so as to encourage the new person, regardless of the real circumstances (because if they come in the sponsor would do better of course), 2) talking as if your vision for the future is the same as your current situation, and 3) saying “Everything’s GREAT I’m successful!” when that might mean the person has just made $50 on a new sign up — all these things come back to bite everyone.

    ($50 is almost laughable if that’s all you are making in a business of your own by ANY standard. But NMers constantly tell me on my calls they’re making a lot of money. When I ask, how much, the answers are usually less than $200. That is a pittance, by normal business standards.)

    Most people have seen their upline disappear, including those who crossed the stage with great fanfare. The 95% drop out rate alone demonstrates that the new recruits were given the impression it was a LOT easier than it turned out to be. But then they wouldn’t have signed up if they realized it took a few years. And think of all the lost sign-up bonuses…

  • Great post and comments!

    Here are three things I do to avoid both problems:

    1) Like a lot of us, I endeavor to use an “attraction marketing” approach, rather than an “in your face” method.

    2) I post my actual revenue, expenses, and profit on a blog, which I update every week. (Click on my name if you want to see it).

    3) I created a page that lists specific reasons why the business I represent is not a scam (NoItIsNotAScam dot com)

    Now, I acknowledge that on that page I’m actually taking advantage of some people’s anti-MLM sentiment since the company I represent is a two-level “direct sales” business.

    My point though is that it has worked well for me to directly address the “scam” concerns so many people understandably have.

    Best Regards,


  • A)Present Business – No Scam
    1)(From Kim Klaver’s New School methods):
    Well, let me tell you what we do and you can call it what you want.
    We market products to consumers — people like you and me — and we set them up in business to do the same thing. That’s how the company expands and that’s why they pay us. Do you think you could do something like that if we showed you how?
    (Keep in mind, most importantly here, WE’RE looking for people for whom it’s the right thing for them to be doing NOW).
    I build networks of people who use/market Aloe Vera products. And, sometimes I add … FLP pays us for using their products and finding other customers who want to use their products.
    (Note: FLP DOES pay very well for customers … so for my company this is true.)

    2)Keep from being WI liars:
    Just tell the truth.
    Personally, I have several hurdles that keep me in the slow lane with my business. When I DO make a presentation and someone asks “How long have you been in the business and how much money are you making,”
    first I lol and say, “FLP is the opportunity. What I do and what you do could be light years apart. I am slowly building the business for retirement. You might want to be a turbo and make gangster money. The beauty of NM companies is whether you want to make an extra 100 a month or whether you want to make gangster money, the company has training materials that will help YOU accomplish YOUR goals.


  • I think there is a fine line between wanting to maintain optimism about the possibilities that NM offers and embellishing that too broadly into what becomes a misrepresentation of how that possibility can be realized ( a lie ).

    Some of the differences in results seen with full time efforts vs part time efforts can also muddy the stories shared with others and start to create “lies” about what is possible.

    Dr Moira

  • I think people say MLM is a scam or it doesn’t work for them because there is a disconnect between what they are told before they join, and what they learn to be the truth of the matter, once they have enrolled.

    I think this misrepresentation is built-in to most MLM training because we are told it is as simple as making a list, doing three-way calls and becoming a product of the product.

    Can you imagine a MLM meeting where people are sat down and told the truth? How would most react? It think that would depend on your advertising (hypey? exaggerated claims?) and/or network of friends and associates. The ones who understand business would appreciate that you are telling the truth, the ones who are desperate for more money would leave.

    I think that since people are led to believe network marketing is easy, they get involved thinking residual income will somehow just happen without them having to change who they are and what they do. I had a new recruit say to me just yesterday, Boy this isn’t an easy business is it? (compare to other MLMs she has been in).

    She jumped in quickly last weekend and was very excited about the concept. Then she received our training materials and became overwhelmed. My response to her comment was:

    Should it be easy? Are the things that make our lives better supposed to be easy? To me, it is easy because I love what I am doing. If it is a struggle that you are not inspired, even driven, to move through, maybe this isn’t the right business for you?… It takes some amount of discomfort and sacrifice while learning something new, to make worthwhile things manifest in our lives.

    I have not heard back from her yet, lol!

    I know I didn’t lie to her. I know I laid out the depth of the opportunity, how it differs from what she knows about MLM to date, how much money it costs…before she chose to join, almost on the spot.

    Maybe I left out specifically telling her that it would take focused effort to get started? I assumed any adult would know that, but maybe I should spell that out, too. Maybe I did lie in a sense, but if so, only by omission. (not that she accused me of that, but that being the topic and all…)


    Guest MLM Bloggers Wanted

    About Me
    My Business Blog

  • We have heard the statistics that around 8,000 people a day join an MLM opportunity in the United States.

    Furthermore we know upwards of 97% of these people will fail and quit the business within months.

    In my opinion the #1 reason these people quit is because they do not treat their business ‘like a business’ and market it correctly.

    I teach people “101 Ways to Double Their Downlines and Triple Their Checks.”

    You can get free online and offline marketing tips by going to my blog at


    J.R. Jackson

  • I don’t usually post comments but I have a funny, ironic story that I think most of you will appreciate. As I’m reading these particular posts about well intentioned liars and deception in our industry, I have the TV on in the background. Not paying much attention until I hear a voice saying: “contact your (well know NM company) representative for more information.” Well that got my attention. I glance to see a woman continue by saying: “Anyone can do this!” End of commercial.

    Wow! What timing!

  • Our prospects need to know that owning a network marketing business is just like starting any other business.

    1) It takes capital
    2) Time (won’t happen over night)
    3) It’s hard work

    Prospect need to know that they have a marketing system that will work for them and a sponsor who will help them until they can do it themselves.

    Calling everyone you’ve ever met and talking to everyone within 3 feet is not for everyone. They need other options.
    Brenda Bunney

  • What, exactly, is a “well intentioned” liar?

    Who here has met one, or might possibly acknowledge being one?

    I don’t know why anyone would want to appear as something s/he is not . . . except for some kind of personal gain. This doesn’t have to be financial.

    New England Journal of Medicine carried a paper this week about selective publication of antidepressant studies (the positive ones, of course). Appearances can deceive, and we all know it.

    People might stop feeling scammed, when people stop scamming.

    Best wishes,

  • Pam: You write: “What, exactly, is a “well intentioned” liar?”

    Someone who does not distinguish, when they’re talking to a prospect, how things really are for them in the business versus what they are dreaming will happen. They tell their prospect, “Oh I just LOVE this business, it’s so great, and I am very successful, and the product sells itself, blah blah.” But,AT THE SAME TIME, 3 minutes later, in the same meeting, they are telling their upline they’re ready to quit.

    It’s putting on the smiley face for the prospect, and whining how they “can’t find anybody good” to their upline.

    That is an example (one of hundreds) of a well-intentioned liar. Well-intentioned because they so HOPE the dream they have bought will happen, well-intentioned because they are doing the daily confirmations of what they dream of, and want it so bad, and feel they deserve it, etc.

    The gal who wrote me said they’d been struggling to make more than they spend for two years, and her husband always told people how well they were doing, how great the business was, and she finally made him stop – no promises, no problems. Because it was all posturing, and pretending it was much better than it was.

    It’s the “fake it will you make it” syndrome. When people fake the money, as so many many do, it leads others to believe there really IS money they can make easily, only it’s a well-intentioned lie…and some people figure, well maybe the NEXT person will make it big, and then my story will come true.

    Meanwhile the drop outs continue…

    The money – and big money IS possible – takes years. Just like any business. (Unless it’s the one in a million who brings in an organization that took them the ten previous years to build.)

    But because the pitch is fast, easy money that anyone can do, and we see all the rah rah at the exciting rallies, all those new people looking get an entirely fantasized picture of what they can do – and in short order at that.

    And they plunk down their money for that first big order, giving a needed shot of income to all the upline, and then drop out 60 days later. Rinse and repeat, say the recruiters.

  • “Well intentioned liars” are those old-school folks who pretend to be new school and repeat the company’s mantra that you make a good living at the business with “ten percent commission” on your front line and don’t divulge that it’s ten percent of the commissionable volume (1/2) of what you thought and that if you and your team buy, let’s say, ten THOUSAND dollars of product, you’d earn just over $600, … barely 6% or so. So why do we spin the lie, that you earn 10% of your frontline? At the average of $100 or so an order, (the industry average of monthly autoships), that’s about two hundred front line members. Most frontline members aren’t even business builders, are just buying their product to get it at the wholesale price (~$50) so you’d have to have more like 300 front line members.

    Why aren’t the true numbers revealed to all so that what’s necessary becomes evident? It takes leveraging the money and effort of a lot of other dreamers to make your dreams come true.

    I personally don’t want to build my future misrepresenting the opportunity on the backs of dreamers. Yes, some may become very successful, but more than that wind up much worse off than they were because the opportunity was misrepresented by corporate or my upline.

    I do love the mlm concept but the reality is that a lot of people get hurt while the big wheels just get bigger….hmmm… a lot like corporate America. The one difference is that anyone of us could become a big wheel…but at whose cost?

  • A few things to ponder about in this MLM industry

    1) There are lots of old school emphasized about doing this business fast. They push their downline who want to do this business to do what they have done.
    This include their way of ROM. And especially if there is one ROM that they used and you are not comfortable with, you will not be able to go as quickly as you want to be.

    So we look for new ways of ROM,is this same as reinvent the wheel??

    2) They show their pay check and tell other that you can do that too

    3) When you share with people and they asked me how much you earned, I do not have big fat pay check to show off, so what should I answer this question?

    At time of bad months, there is possible of no income, when you tell this to your prospect, he may not want to join you. He has a choice to look for more successful leader with track record to join them. How would you handle this situation??

    4) How do you differntiate hype and confidence about the products? we was told to gather as many testimonial as possible to increase the level of confidence and when closing, you want to reassure the clients that it will work for you as it has work for so many people.

    5) When I use the New school approach, i was labelled as negative and lack of condifence in the product. How do you overcome that??

  • Hi Kim,

    Thanks for the feedback. I understand what you’re saying about people who want to believe the dream, therefore carrying out the “fake it ’till you make it” scenario.

    The problem for me is applying the term “well-intentioned” to this process. Someone might inflate his or her business finances, but for what intention? Could it be in order to entice others into a business, in order to increase one’s own personal and financial profit? Could it also be to hide possible shame about how one’s business is truly doing? At whose expense is all of this done?

    It seems to me that in such circumstances, the benefit is not mutual. Instead, the new person (led to believe an untruth) facilitates the other’s profit, and possibly joins the business. Then s/he must do the same to another in order to recoup investment. The person could also call their “well-intentioned liar” upline for a 3-way call with the new “prospect”. In doing this, the new recruit serves up fresh meat to the hungry upline for ‘closing’. Of course they are both hungry . . . both benefit at the expense of the other . . . the fed-on new prospect joining the business loses . . . and the cycle continues.

    How is this cycle “well-intentioned” for anyone, really? To me it seems exploitative of others instead — and only continues the perception of scam and hyperbole in network marketing. Why not simply start with the facts — as you have been encouraging through your wonderful blog, Kim?

    Best wishes,

  • Hi Pam:
    You write “How is this cycle “well-intentioned” for anyone, really? To me it seems exploitative of others instead — and only continues the perception of scam and hyperbole in network marketing. Why not simply start with the facts — as you have been encouraging through your wonderful blog, Kim? “

    One reason is that people are afraid others won’t join if they know how little they are earning, compared to the people in the front of the room.

    The way the companies and recruiters run their ‘rallies’ it is the big earners who get all the play. And who doesn’t want to picture earning $10,000 or more per month?
    If Lulu then has to tell her prospect what SHE is earning, it looks pitiful. Suddenly, an extra $500/mo, which is wonderful extra income, looks wimpy. Or if she hasn’t made anything yet, she looks like a failure.

    When we stop glorifying the big money and how easy it is and how ANYONE can do it, perhaps the “well intentioned liars” won’t feel the need to overstate how well they are doing.

    The recruiters however, have a good way to justify continuing this practice of overstating earnings and promoting the big money:

    What if someone ELSE makes it? And what if they’re YOURS?

    So, they gush, show the positive and what’s possible…and tell how you are so happy and love this, – you never know who might make it.

    That’s how they justify signing up the world with big initial orders. After all, who are we to suggest someone might not make it?

    And to do that, you have to show the smiley “success” face, whether you are making anything or not.

    Leading with the “big” money has been the traditional marketing approach of MLM. When THAT stops, perhaps the well intentioned lying will stop also. When values other than BIG money are promoted, I mean.

    Imagine that!

  • One thing I think also doesn’t help is the commercials on TV for home based businesses. You may have seen them, they are obviously from lead companies and they are normally poorly acted. They make big outrageous income claims, but they are actors not real networkers. Every time I see these ads on tv it just makes me cringe and it actually makes me mad. I wish I knew which companies run these ads because I don’t think I would want leads coming from this type of advertising and I wouldn’t want to see anyone else using leads from them.

Leave a Comment