Multilevel/Network Marketing

Over the moon about finally landing a permanent job, she saw it all ending after only two days, when it turned out that the rather swish sounding job title “marketing advisor” was a clever marketing ploy itself for a 100% commission sales position within a multilvel marketing position.

Her induction wasn`t yet training her on how to achieve the sales but focused entirely on the development of her own earnings (you move up for selling lots of product, and then start mentoring others, taking part of their commission in return. No recruitment with this particular organisation, but this, of course, takes you all the longer to move up), making new recruits hungry to line other people`s pockets in the pursuit of incredible, but for most unattainable, wealth for themselves.

When I was in my early twenties, I had a quick and rather unsuccessful dab into this kind of marketing myself, and though I didn`t earn a cent (I made a few sales and recruited one rep, but I also spent a dysproportionate amount of time and money attending seminars, meetings and mentoring my recruit. I was also tied to using the, still overpriced, product myself for much longer as I would have as a “normal” customer), I, too, gained a rather interesting insight about how those organisations work and motivate you.

My friend described that “they supercharge you and pump you up to the max” Every seminar I attended for “my” organsation ended with Tina Turner`s “Simply the Best”, plaid at just beneath unbearable volume, which we all sang and danced to while viewing the face of the organisation`s founder as always the same last slide of the big screen presentation, and I freely admit that all this did something to me – whenever I left a seminar, it was on a superpositive note – I was highly motivated, ready to conquer the world and so, so disappointed that it was 9pm at night and couldn`t happen until tomorrow morning. We often had parties at my mentor` s home, there was music playing, and all over sudden, there she was – always, but always kind of unexpected – Tina Turner, and we all jumped off our seats to scream and dance with her, and it all seemed to come so naturally to all of us. I felt part of something big and crazy, something that was special and wanted to be shared with my nearest and dearest. The product didn`t matter any more as we regularly collapsed laughing and hugging after “our song” ended.

My friend`s organisation takes this “buzz” one fine bit further still: every morning, their staff attend an (unpaid) 1hr pep talk in their office, which they cannot skip, as that`s where they`re also learning where they are going to be deployed to today, who with, and how they are going to travel. The pep talks involve singing, clapping, dancing, cheering to your boss, and plenty buzz words which colleagues (who work in pairs but actually compete against each other for the attention of passers by) will reiterate to each other throughout the day to keep the memento going. For that hour in the morning is all about positivity, oneself and one` s imminent wealth (“greed”, she said), but your 9 hour shift “on location” is all about rejection, as you approach passer by after passer by, trying to get them to at least listen to you. I`ve seen them. I bet you have, too. I didn`t know how they can still be as enthusiastic and upbeat at 4pm.

When I first encountered this scheme, I was really enthusiastic – I believed in the system, I believed in the product (in that order), and I believed in my own ability to succeed. By that time my manager in my full time job had already said to me “At the moment, you`re not a salesperson, but this does not mean that you cannot become one!” I wanted to show and impress him.

Never mind my own lack of success, I changed my mind ages ago, and my feelings about this system is perfectly summarised in this (sorry – long and a bit difficult to read) article.

If everyone is encouraged to both sell and recruit, the market quickly becomes oversaturated, and if you haven`t gotten in there really early, it is impossible for you to make money as an increasing amount of people are already using or selling the product. You don`t however know how imminent this point is, so you`will keep working hard, just in case, selling a dream which you don`t even believe in yourself. And you`re actively encouraged (pressurised, in my case) to pester family and friends.

Until you get promoted (sales based, which makes you work all the harder) you cannot make a living out of this work, for you are too busy lining the pockets of your own mentor, who, of course, has a personal interest in keeping you going. You`ll do the same if you want to succeed, and with this company, you need to, for the work is 6 days a week and does not give you time for a second job or look for another one.

It`s quite clever, actually. But so deeply immoral.And I cheer on my friend, whose chair will remain empty today – on day three and forever after.




2 thoughts on “Multilevel/Network Marketing

  1. Wendy says:

    I am sure everyone (imhop every woman) has been at a tupperware party and owns a few items. I was a big fan of tupperware (if you have a look at my shelves you know) – and I attended one party every year and I hosted one every year for several years. Of course the rep tried to attract me to sell it and to participate.

    But I refused – because my sister in law was a rep for one year and I know about the time you have to invest to earn some money. And she was a successful rep – but she did it just parttime and has a fulltime job and tupperware (or maybe this particular regional chapter) is not happy if you have a real job which pays your bills – because if you have a real job you are not dependend enough and not able to spend so much time at their meetings and you are not able to hold as many parties as they prefer.

    I prefer to receive a fair amount of money for my fair amount of time….. so I will not work for a company who pays just on comission with no fixum.


    • culbia says:

      My job with such a company was fine, as I had a main job. Everything I would have made with them would have been extra, although they, too, were planting a seed for resigning and working for them full time.

      My friends` job would however have been 6 days a week 8am – 8pm. No time to work another job or look for one. Their pitch was, if you work really hard, you can get promotion within 4-6 weeks, and then you can afford to work less (for more money).


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