What not to say.

Last week, a reader wrote in, “I just want to learn to talk about my product in a normal way.”

Learning to talk about the product you market in a normal way was the focus of the orange book, If My Product’s So Great, How Come I Can’t Sell It?

But sometimes, it’s about what not to say.

In a forum I visited today, folks were discussing green cleaners. Someone who owned a cleaning service asked the members for suggestions. Here’s what I saw.

1. All recommendations were from people who were also selling the product.
2. All but one pitched the money-making opportunity as well.

And at the end of one response, the gal said, “They pay for themselves and offer an incredible income opportunity too!”

Now, does that sound like ‘talking in a normal way’ about a product you are recommending? I mean, the cleaning lady asked about green products. And here people are pitching “an incredible income opportunity.” (Forget the fact that almost no one makes “incredible income.”)

Even though I’ve been in and around the NM business for some 23 years, I just cringed when I read it. And I knew I’d never buy it. All the responses seemed tainted.

Don’t know why that is, but it is. You?

About the author

Kim Klaver


  • I suspect each of these people had the best of intentions, but they lack an understanding of relationship marketing.

    I am about to sign up with a new Canadian-based company specializing in environmentally-friendly products. If I had been in on this forum, I would have tried to provide value with generic ideas on what to look for in 'green' products, what makes them work, and how to make the best use of them. I would have shared what I've learned about ingredients and chemicals used in many products and provided links to some good research.

    I would have suggested some good companies to check out, honestly noting that I am with one of them and offered to share more generic info about 'green' if they were interested.

    Would I be thrilled if they became a customer? Absolutely. Then if they were interested in the biz, we could talk. But the environment is a passion for me, so even if they found another product line to use that was green, I'd still be thankful that I could have contributed some knowledge and insight.

    Building a business is important to me. Building relationships with like-minded individuals is even more important. Maybe I'll never be a millionaire 'guru', but I will feel good about what I'm doing by sharing information.

  • I've been marketing a product for a couple of years and 90% of the people who try it don't like the taste. Or so they say — and they seem sincere.

    I have been tempted recently to mention the moneymaking potential the product offers, so I'm glad to read this post.

    I like the flavor just fine of this product — and the flavor isn't why people are drinking it anyway, so I'm puzzled by people's contrary response.

    I have mentioned that what I offer them could cut their cost in half, but that doesn't sway them, either.

    When it comes to folks' "small luxuries", they don't care about saving money or their health, it seems. But then, these are usually young people in their twenties.

    Could it be that by saying they dislike the flavor what they're really doing is heading off any potential of me giving an MLM sales pitch? D'ya think?

  • Good observation, Paul.
    I think they also say these types of things because they don't want to buy.
    Since a network marketing product often costs a lot more than a "comparable" non-MLM product, they back off unless they understand the advantages of one product over the other.

  • Dear Kim,
    Do you cringe at a wedding when the Pastor says, "Until death do you part"? With the current divorce rate, we know that won't be the case over 50% of the time.
    So even if the "incredible income" is not likely to happen for most; that does not eradicate the possibility. Even by your reported stats, 3 out of 100 will make it.
    Specific to your example, the overzealous reps would have done better not to mention anything about income. However, we both know they are taught to jump at every chance.
    Hype means different things to different people. Enthusiasm is essential when a rep is speaking of their product, but in a controlled fashion. Right words or wrong words; if you are pretending that you are not selling your product; then what the ell are you in this business for anyway?
    Forgive my little rant. Happy New Year everyone!
    Wishing You Plenty To Live,
    Tom Doiron

  • Karen's right, Paul. It's a nice way to say no. At least they think it's a good reason to say no.

    Not sure if the reason is that they think it's too expensive, but it's enough to realize they don't want to buy.

    Paul, do you ask, "Do you know anyone who might like to know about a product like that?" so that you don't get the direct NO?

  • Hi Tom — You write, "Specific to your example, the overzealous reps would have done better not to mention anything about income."

    That was my only point. Given what the customer was asking.

    If you're in a car dealership, the sales guy is enthusiastic about the cars, yes. He makes money selling them.

    But does he then also tell you how much you can make buying a car dealership? And try to sell you one?

    Maybe it's just that network marketing is really just a recruiting business for most folks, and that's what comes across.

    Too bad, I think.

  • Derek,

    You write,

    "I would have tried to provide value with generic ideas on what to look for in 'green' products, what makes them work, and how to make the best use of them. I would have shared what I've learned about ingredients and chemicals used in many products and provided links to some good research."

    Had you done that, I'd have bought from you on the spot.

    When I ask for referrals about a product type I don't know a lot about, like environmentally green cleaning products, I like to hear from someone who is into IT – the product. Someone who's about the idea and philosophy of it.

    Not the selling of it to me. Much less the trying to get me to sell it, too. It's like so way too soon. And that is why people run away from MLMers.

    I think networkers who treat their business as a recruiting machine lose most of the customers they might have had. Some of those customers might actually think of selling it later, all by themselves. Sometimes years later. Or they might buy the product in bulk – like a recruiter order, without ever selling it formally.

    Why the rush to pitch the opportunity to someone who didn't ask?

    It reduces the value of your recommendation, because now it's not about the product experience, but about the money in it for you.

    When I ask for product recommendations I want to hear from someone who has the experience of using products they recommend. And who are "about" those kinds of products, versus the plain variety. I didn't ask to be pitched "an incredible income opportunity."

    This situation is very sad, I think. Because some NM companies really do have unique and beneficial products. But normal people will never know because networkers don't seem to value their products outside of the business opportunity. They sure don't present them as if they do, anyway.

    So normal people just run away.


    So that's why I'd buy from you, Derek. You'd strike me like a normal person who's into something I want to learn about.

  • Dear Kim,

    I still think the best litmus test is to ask yourself if you would be using your product or service if you weren't selling it. Yes it seems obvious that you ought to be using it if you are selling it. However,I have not found this to be true in reality. For many the motivation is to profit regardless of the means. When I tried out the car sales world years ago, I was the only rep that thought it was necessary to drive the brand I was promoting. I often wondered if even the managers would have driven our brand had they not been provided demos.

    I agree that Derek is indeed noble.

    Happy New Year to all.

    Wishing You Plenty To Live,
    Tom Doiron

Leave a Comment