MLM Suspects (written November, 2005)

No matter how many times you repeat the same concept, you can’t force people to do it! Like it or not, MLM is no different than every other industry – it’s a number game. Understanding these numbers has brought us downlines numbering into the hundreds of thousands of people! You’re familiar with the numbers (or at least you should be): Recruit ten and what do you really have? Two potential winners that will succeed with or without you; Two losers that no matter what will figure out a way to fail; Then to top it off, you’ve found six suspects disguised as prospects.

Everyone hates these suspects? Why? Because no matter what you do or say, you are wrong. They are stubborn, cynical, and sometimes downright mean. But on the flip side they are very intelligent and could be very powerful so they do have a lot of potential. Unfortunately, every downline is the same: full of suspects that make the worst feelings in life seem like a pleasant alternative. One of the biggest mistakes in MLM has been wasting time on these type of people. We’d like to share a few good stories, so hopefully, you can save yourself many hours of heartache, and keep your focus on the working with the winners!

The “Too Smart” Suspect – This type of person is full of potential. But he wants to reinvent the wheel. He sketches designs and talks to many people. He is full of ideas and full of enthusiasm. So what is the problem? Well he never does a thing. He keeps saying what he is going to do, and never does it. Of course when we make suggestions like mailing postcards, he wouldn’t listen. He believes our system that has recruited us hundreds of thousands is a waste of his time. Actually the “Too Smart” Suspect will always make one simple attempt at reinventing the wheel, but when the wheel doesn’t roll, what will he do? He’ll try to reinvent it again and again and again. It was never quite perfect, so nothing ever gets done. The smartest suspects never get anyone to follow them so unfortunately, even though they have good intentions, their downline never grows!

No matter how hard you stress duplication, some people will never duplicate your system. Eventually, people do come around but it will likely be long after they quit your organization. My advice is to forget about them. They are much worse than dead wood. Dead wood doesn’t take your time like the brains in your downline. They’ll write dozens of letters & waste hours of long distance calling. Some people are convinced that they can think of a great way to recruit that none of the experts have ever thought of. It may happen but it’s not likely.

The “Undercover” Suspect – my least favorite of all suspects is a cat in dog’s clothing (or something like that). You’ve seen these suspects too. They charge out of the gate, go into full speed for some time and then drop lifeless on their butts. They’ll never budge another inch no matter how hard you try. They’ve found five other people and their job is done. You can’t convince them of anything different.  Nothing is more disappointing.  Is it? You have a hot new recruiter who signs up six in two weeks. Then she stops. What in the heck are people learning? Well part of this is because of industry babble. You get six, they get six, and so on, and so on…

Why doesn’t someone step up and tell the truth? Tell your people to go sign up as many people every week as they can for one year. Then maybe they can take a break. At the very least we should all recruit five or six and then pester them until they do the same. But some people are just stubborn. They start strong and they’re soon out of gas. You’ll never budge them again. When you get someone like this in your group, very little can be done. All you can really do is work with their downline, or let anger get the best of you and give up on them. It’s always best to concentrate on their downline. It is a number’s game – right?

A “Spoiled” Suspect turned violent – have you ever been kicked? If your organization grows large enough, you will. Some suspects drop to their butts right from the get go. Maybe they want spillover? Maybe they don’t know what to do? They might even be procrastinators or maybe they are just plain stubborn and lazy. Your first thought is to push that lazy person right out of the starting gate. You immediately recruit two people behind him in the organization to help you push. You then begin persuading this stubborn person to do it on his own. You make contacts for him, push him forward, and keep doing everything to help. Then you give up on him doing it himself and you stop. POW!! From out of nowhere, he sets his powerful hind legs right into your unsuspecting skull. What happened? You’re dazed, you feel betrayed, and you don’t know what to do. He’s taken the people you got him and they’ve all joined another program. Maybe he’s just inundated you with complaints or maybe he’s just flat out taken more than you offered and ran with it. The moral of this story is that too many sponsors are creating “welfare states” within their own downlines. You can’t drag (or push) anyone across the finish line. If you do too much and then quit, your people get angry. They smear your name, steal your downline and report you to their nearest Attorney General, Fire Marshall, and High School Principal.

Forget it – Folks! It’s not going to happen. Work with people to get them started, but make them take off on their own. You’re hearing this from a guy that’s learned the hard way. I have a person in my organization with a downline of 897. Personal recruits? Zero. Extra products retailed? Are you kidding? The ultimate kick in the face is that this lady keeps telling me that she plans to promote soon. I see her ads for a competing organization all of the time, so who does she think she’s fooling? Moreover where do you think she’s getting prospects for that other group? I had another guy who was in financial straits, so I lent him some money. The (please insert your favorite curse word here) had the gall to ask me for a refund last month. He never sent a dime, yet demanded a refund. What gives? Encouragement & helpful hints are great, but never go overboard – you’ll get kicked!!

There are dozens of interesting Suspects out there, all just waiting to destroy your team. “Junkie” Suspect puts his team (and yours) onto a hot new team every two weeks, like clockwork. “Mathematician” Suspect will not budge until you give him the perfect (180% matching plus infinity) comp plan. “Penny Stock” Suspect plays your opportunity like a lottery ticket. “Superior” Suspect feels like your opportunity is “small potatoes,” and they won’t plow a field for small potatoes. Unfortunately the list goes on and on and on…

OK there’s not a damn suspect out there who’s going to grow your organization. Hey folks, let’s learn from our mistakes. Suspects do not grow your organization except in very rare cases!! If they’re not going to multiply, they don’t belong in MLM. Hey man, when you find a suspect, forget about it. If you can make that suspect produce anything at all, be grateful. Hey normally my articles are very upbeat, and they will continue to be so. However I thought just once you’d let me expose some of the setbacks in building a large organization. Maybe you can learn from my mistakes – unless, of course, you’re stubborn. Don’t treat your people like numbers until they have shown that they deserve this treatment. Then it’s best to apply the old MLM/Suspect detective saying to get you through: “some will, some won’t, so what? Next suspect please…”

The author of this article is Larry Costello, President of All-American Print & Mail, 2200 Wilson Blvd #102-57, Arlington, VA 22201.