Vote: The biggest misconception in NM?

Reader Curt S made this detailed comment on the post What would you say on national TV?

“The concept of network marketing is very simple.

How many times have you told someone “you gotta see this movie” or “you gotta read this book” or “you gotta try this restaurant”? Well, they take your advice and tell their friends and before you know it the book is a best-seller! That is how a network of people works.

Now, what if you got paid for every book, movie or restaurant you recommended? That would be great! What if you got paid every time that someone you recommended a book, movie or restaurant recommended it? That would be better wouldn’t it?…”

What Curt writes is common lore in MLM. How many folks came in because they heard that story? How many use it today, to recruit others?

But – is it a true story? Or is it the biggest misconception in network marketing?

Results so far here.

About the author

Kim Klaver


  • If only it were as easy as Curt S makes it sound! Selling a product to a friend or relative is not like recommending a movie or book that I enjoyed. I have a vested interest in whether the friend or relative purchases the product I sell, but no vested interest in whether they see the same movie or read the same book. That’s a BIG difference — and selling alters the relationship with that friend or relative just a little. And if not approached thoughtfully, it can stress the relationship. Why are some network marketers so unconscious about what they are actually doing, that they believe that what Curt S says is true?

  • I believe the statement is true. I don’t believe that the difference is in what you’re recommending. I believe the difference is that some people just naturally recommend things they like (and that could include things they get paid for and things they don’t.) For some of us, myself included, when I experience anything that I really like or believe in, recommending it to people I know is as natural as breathing.

    I might not recommend that same thing to someone I didn’t know, simply because it wouldn’t feel natural for me to just walk up to a stranger and recommend something. However, if I got into a conversation with a stranger and the conversation drifted in that direction, I wouldn’t think twice before saying something like, “Have you ever tried (whatever)? And then telling my experience and saying, “You should try it.” That’s just my personality.

    I wouldn’t feel good about recommending something that I have NOT had a good experience with or that I haven’t had any experience with because part of recommending to me is remembering your experience and sharing it with someone.

    That doesn’t mean that a person who feels natural at “recommending” is in any way a better person than one who doesn’t feel natural about it. They are just different personality types.

    I might say, however, that if recommending things that you like to people isn’t natural to you, then maybe network marketing isn’t the right business for you. You might be happier and feel more comfortable in some other business. I believe people should love what they do.


  • Thank you Kim for continuing to get the Truth out for all to read and understand. So many have gotten into the quicksand of these myths and you are brave enough to lead us out.

  • B.K. (before Kim) I would’ve said yes, it’s the same only you get paid for it. Now I say no, it’s not the same because you get paid for it.

    However, if someone tells me about an issue they have that my product addresses, I would be comfortable saying, “I sell a product for people who have that same problem because it’s what worked for me. Would you have any interest in hearing about what I use?”

    If they say no, so be it. A yes means I’m free to ‘recommend’ without their feeling they got sucked — or suckered — in.


  • What Curt said is true – if you are just recommending a product to someone. The challenge for many people is that they are so attached to the outcome rather than just making a recommendation and seeing where it goes. If they liked what you recommend (your product, book, movie or restaurant) they will tell you and others about it.

    Besides, what if what you recommend to the person really helps them? How does that make you feel? How does it make them feel about you? Doesn’t that build your relationship? You don’t always need to be fishing for distributors – clients are good too – raving fans… better.

    What Curt said is “the concept is simple”, not necessarily easy. Some people often complicate things in this business too much.

  • For some reason I’m getting an error message when trying to vote. My vote, if I could, would be FALSE. It is NOT like “recommending a restaurant, only you get paid”.

    My bank pays me (and them) for referrals. Tivo pays me for referrals. Earthlink paid me for referrals, back when I was still with them. The list goes on. I don’t have a stake in any of those companies. If I refer one of those, it is because I truly believe they are a decent company, providing decent service/product and I choose to tell others. And when I talk about those companies I also usually have forgotten that there is a “finders fee”. I haven’t made much in referrals from those companies consequently.

    My own business, however, is different. I do have a vested interest in MY business after all. And that, to me, does change the landscape.

    First of all, most people know up front, or very soon in the conversation, that I am in the travel business. When I recommend that they include my website when “surfing” for the best price, they know up front that I am promoting my business. I happen to be able to offer very competitive pricing and so they are usually willing to at least add it to the mix.

    Second, I now (after some time establishing some credibility) am asked quite frequently for advice regarding visiting a particular area, or using a particular vendor (i.e. resort or cruise line). This is information I gladly volunteer, with the caveat that it is only my personal opinion, based on personal experience. If I don’t know, I say I don’t know. If you don’t agree with my opinion, fine.
    And after all that, I will more than likely let you know that what I just recommended is available through my agency, (on my website) but then so are all the other choices. So whatever you choose, I would really like you to consider giving me your business the next time to go to book travel.

    And the title of this topic was “The biggest misconception in NM”. I don’t know that I consider this the biggest misconception. There are lots of them out there, all used to lure in people looking for something better, something easy to ease their situation or just searching for “that one special thing” that will solve their certain situation or maybe everything.

    We have talked about all those “things” here before:
    *It’s easy, anyone can do it.
    *Everyone wants what we’ve got.
    *It sells itself.
    *We have the best product.
    *We have the best comp plan.
    *We have a proven system.
    *We have celebrities.
    *We have scientists/PHD’s.

    As was evident in the previous blog on supplements, various people have differing views. And they have different priorities. And they believe different points of view based on different information. Whatever you choose to use in your story will only appeal to certain ones.

    And one last point since the topic was about recruiting. There is also a very real fact of timing and influence. While hype gets some, and statistics get others, and true stories get many more, the fact is that for some, it is all about hearing the “right thing at the right time” that they didn’t hear before or didn’t WANT to hear before. And it might just come from someone else that they give a little more credence to than you. Sad, but true. This is no doubt the same with getting customers in most cases.

    Meanwhile, you have your own (or are building) sphere of influence. The trick is knowing how and when to keep “dripping” on the right ones and/or moving on to find the ones for who it might be “right”.

    Gayle Wheeler

  • None of the above is really correct. You only “recommend” something when it has worked for you and you have no vested interest in what you are recommending. You are just telling people what your taste is – doesn’t mean it is their taste. Once your getting paid on something you recommend it is called selling. Kim has completely convinced me that you have to have retail customers to be successful in this business. In order to have enough retail customers you have to find them outside your circle of influence. If you keep hitting on your friends and family for business you will be lucky if you have any left after a time. So the answer is find a system to get you customers and business builders who want what you have. That means identifying your ideal customer and /or business partner and then looking for them in the right places. Makes sense no? The rest is for the birds. Juliette Gray

  • I’m in a dilemma wrt true or false to this question so I didn’t vote.

    I agree with Dave, and I also agree with Kim, to a point.

    NMers have choices of how to promote their products. Word-of-mouth, recommending their products to others, is a huge part of this business. The really important part, though, is what Dave said:

    “The challenge for many people is that they are so attached to the outcome rather than just making a recommendation and seeing where it goes.”

    When we recommend a book or a movie we don’t call that person everyday for the next month and a half to see if they bought the book or saw the movie. I think that’s what separates the ‘true’ from the ‘false’ in this question.

    I came into this business because I was having problems with my back, hip and knees. A friend of mine recommended the product … I tried it and my problems went away. I recommended it to a friend of mine who had the early stages of osteoporosis it helped her. Now we’re both ‘doing the business.’

    Initially, we were so happy with the results that we couldn’t understand why others who had the same problem(s) wouldn’t try it. We would recommend the product to ‘someone who’ and then call them twice a week yadda yadda yadda.

    After Kim’s teachings, now, we say our 15-second ‘first date script’ give that person our business card (we never ask for THEIR phone number or business card anymore … unless they offer it and say something like ‘why don’t you call me next week’) and wait to see if ‘they’ call ‘us.’ Some do and some don’t. For those who say, ‘call me next week’ … we do call them. If they put us off we give them three chances and then ‘say NO first’ … the ‘why don’t you call me when …’ script.

    We do ROMs as well. Product recommendation, though, can be a fun part of this business if done correctly.

    Again, as Dave said:

    “The concept is simple,” not necessarily easy. Some people often complicate things in the business too much.”


  • Folks – Thanks for your thoughts…

    Probably biggest reason I believe it is so misleading to say “it’s like recommending a restaurant only you get paid for it” is this:

    No one recommending a restaurant, movie or book charges for the recommendation. If they did, how many people would want to hear it?

    To make money in NM, one has to make the sale, recommending by itself doesn’t earn one a dime, just like recommending a movie earns you zip. That’s why people listen to friends to begin with – no hidden agenda. No money is asked for at the end of the recommendation.

    Why pretend you can make money without sales? Isn’t this pitch a giant scheme to pretend MLM isn’t sales?

    No one wants to tell that part up front…that to make money, they need sell stuff. Probably because we know not as many people would sign up – because most people don’t like sales. But with this ruse of recommending a restaurant, people can be gently fooled. And they are. The drop out rates confirm it.

    Worse, they receive no training in how to present so they CAN make sales in a friendly, non-threatening way. They don’t even know there’s anything to train for…

    Am I missing something here?

  • Just last week I went to one of my new distributors home to do an informal presentation (what I do is not anything llke a home party or a hype thing, don’t know how to explain it). Anyway, one of the 4 women arrived early, the same time I did.

    I brought my case of samples inside and barely set it down when this early arriver said matter of factly, “I don’t know anything about what you’re selling but since my friend told me I had to come over and take a look, I’m here and want to order. Tell me what I should buy!”

    I’m accustomed to asking questions and listening from my 32 years of selling. I also was not startled by her response. I smiled and calmly said, “oh OK, but let me ask you a few questions first so we can narrow it down some since we have nearly 400 different products and I don’t think you need everything all at once.” She ended up placing a very nice sized order and left early due to a previous commitment.

    It turns out the hostess is respected and known for being a health-nut. So, when she invited her friend, the friend knew that if this hostess said this was a great line she was ready to jump in.

    I have also been known to do the same when a freind recommended something if it was something I was looking for – yes, even if they had a financial interest.

    I think that when one walks their talk and then refers a friend, it’s quite likely that friend will jump in.

    I think another key point in this situation is that the hostess is very new to my company and is still learning how to talk about the product and the kinds of questions to ask. Because of this she has invited me over twice in October to do little informal presentations to two different groups of women she knows.

    The key is, she is unknowingly using “me,” in a sense, as a third party tool. Which is working to both of our advantages.

    She is also telling these women she’s new and learning. These women have responded in a very supportive way in return.

    There are clearly many different dynamics going on. The one that I see most clearly is this particular hostess/new distributor – she is enthusiastic and right up front about absolutely everything.

    As far as our businesses being, or not being, the same approach as recommending a book or restaurant… I think it depends on how the person doing the recommendation presents the package. Apparently this woman is going about it the right way. I’ll have to ask her exactly what she’s saying to these women when she invites them over. Perhaps, it’s simply the fact that she is known as a health-nut and is REAL honest.

  • Well, Kim, there’s your magic word … ‘training.’

    I use several ROMs. There are always those who ask “what do you do for a living.”

    With ‘New School Methods’ I now separate those interested in products from those interested in the business.

    For those who are interested in the business, I do use the “it’s KINDA like recommending a movie or restaurant” line sometimes. It works for me. I make sure, though, that further into the ‘training’ I use your ‘calling the right name’ line … or refer to NMers as being a Prince Charming looking for the foot that fits the ‘glass slipper’ as opposed to trying to cram that size 8 into a size 5.

    I might say, if you recommend a book or restaurant you wouldn’t drive that person crazy until they tried it, would you? We recommend products and wait to see if that person is interested … if not … on to the next.

    I think the words that work for each of us may vary. The importance here is TRAINING. No promises … no problems. Telling the truth as to what it really takes to build this business and most importantly accepting what fits for each person we talk to.

    Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Man’s Mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains it’s original dimensions.” I believe that’s what happens to most NMers. Once we see what a huge money making opportunity this is … what a wonderful profession this is … it’s really hard to understand (or accept) why everybody DOESN’T want to do it … enter ‘cramming it down our friends and family’s throats.’

    A year ago I made a business presentation to a friend of mine. She was unhappy with her job … needed more money … yadda yadda yadda. I tried to ‘cram it down her throat’ and almost lost her as a friend. Then I just stopped talking about it.

    Today she came for coffee. She’s having problems with her back, joints and knees. Today I said, the reason I started marketing these products is because three years ago I had the same problems you’re having. A friend of mine recommended I try this juice. I did and my pains went away. She asked a couple questions about the products (which I had NOT mentioned the first time around) then asked, “Do I have to do the business?” I said, absolutely not. You have two choices, you can buy from me ‘retail’ or you can fill out an application to become a ‘wholesale customer.’ She signed up. As she was filling out her application she said, you know, my friend John has problems with his back … if this works for me I will recommend it to him. I literally had to tape my mouth shut. I DID NOT mention the business. A year ago I would have ‘gotten naked on the first date’ started bringing out all the business presentations (again)and probably really would have lost her as a friend this time around.

    I’ve kinda gotten off the subject and gone on a rant. What I’ve learned from Kim these past 9 months has made a huge difference in my business.

    Although the issue here is ‘is it or isn’t it like recommending a restaurant’, I think it’s all in how it’s presented and explained.


  • One more thing … maybe the real answer to this question lies in each respective company’s compensation plan. Some plans do not pay well for wholesale customers while others do.

    If your company’s plan pays you well for ‘signing up’ wholesale customers (those people who JUST want to buy products for themselves at the wholesale price and who DO NOT want to sell them) then maybe it IS kinda like recommending a movie or a book. If your company pays you for ‘recruiting’ then maybe it’s NOT like recommending a movie or restaurant.

    In my company, NO retail, NO downline, we get compensated very well (I think) for signing up people who want to buy the products for themselves at the wholesale price.

    I could achieve the ‘top’ of the first phase of my company’s compensation plan with 80 wholesale customers who purchased $100 of products monthly. I would be paid a bonus amount of $2,059.20.

    For ‘recruiting’ there are other compensations. I have started coaching my downline “100 Customers 100 Days” … then start looking for those business builders.

    So, maybe the REAL answer to IS it or ISN’T like recommending a movie or restaurant really lies in the respective company’s compensation plan. Think?


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