The MLM Attrition Rate Problem – Problem or Not? (written November, 1997)

For the last 25 years or so and still counting, I have been hearing a lot about people dropping out of their downlines and so on and so forth. Just the other day, a guy called me and we were talking about how he was disgusted with his program because he had sponsored 53 people and none of them did anything, nor did they stay active – in fact, he had 37 drop outs to this point and there was no end in sight. He seemed perplexed and I wondered why. Here’s what I told him…….

In every industry in the World, people quit their jobs daily searching for the next best opportunity. According to Post Office statistics, people move from their addresses at about 4% monthly – that’s almost 50% of the population moves to a new location annually. The current divorce rate is at 50% – one out of every two marriages fail. Based on new business start-ups, 97% will fail within the first year and 99.5% will fail before three years are up. What is my point? How is MLM any different than the real world? What’s your complaint then?

People join into MLM programs for many different reasons. These are the same people who move at a rate of 50% annually. These are the same people whose marriages are failing at a rate of 50%. These are the same people who fail in business 99.5% of the time. These are the same people who quit their jobs daily searching for the next best opportunity – sound familiar? Sound like anyone you and I know well?

The last two jobs I had working in the “real world” – One was a supervisor in a telemarketing company. Our telemarketers were getting minimum wage, which I thought was ridiculous. Needless to say the average worker lasted less than three months. We had full turnover after 9 months. I was a supervisor in a big, big, big company and we had a 100% attrition rate in 9 months! Worse more, it was totally acceptable to the hierarchy. Before I was a supervisor, I also worked as an employee in a major bank in the telemarketing unit.  Of the 121 employees who started at the same time as me, only 14 were left when I decided to go off and take the supervisor job after only 16 months. That is an 89% attrition rate for a large major banking concern where people put their money into daily – billions and billions of dollars daily. These are the people we are trusting to secure our money? Yet they totally accepted a large attrition rate for their employees. That doesn’t make sense – but it is a fact. Since I left my parents’ home back in the very early seventies, I have had four residences – four – which statically, puts me in the minority. I have been married twice – thank God my second wife, Annette, is a gem!! What is my point again? I am average and you can see that just in my life alone, there has been a tremendous amount of attrition and movement. I bet you if you think for a few minutes, you will see a tremendous amount of attrition in your life also. It is normal. There is no shame, no excuses, no explanations needed. It is normal. People leave their jobs daily. People move daily. People leave their relationships daily. People drop out of their MLM Programs and join other ones daily. It happens and there is little you or I can do about it.

So next time someone complains to you about attrition rates or tries to convince you that they have very little attrition rates or just the concept of attrition comes up, remember what I have said. It is normal. How can we combat this? One sure fire method is to before a person joins, really make sure they want to get involved with this opportunity and will be committed to the fullest.  But that means you will have to turn down 99 out of every 100 applicants. Are you willing to do that? Unfortunately life in general is a numbers game. The more people you come in contact with, the better opportunity you have of positioning yourself to achieve your goals. It is hard to turn people down, but that is the only way. In the MLM business, as well as every business I have ever been involved with, people want too much, too quickly and usually are not willing to work hard for little pay, without any recognition and without a guaranteed payoff. Well when I started my business many years ago now, people laughed at me, including my family who tried to discourage me because I worked a full time job, worked my business full time and invested every penny I had into my business, as well as invested every ounce of time. I sacrificed many a good time and many a good outing to work my business. Was it worth it? Actually, I am not sure because it is a way of life for me now. I would like to gloat in my achievements but I feel I have much more to accomplish.  I can honestly say that I am happy at this point, but I can also honestly say that if I did not stick it out and stick to my commitments, I would not be in the position I am today and if I can do it, so can you. Teaching people the facts of MLM life is not hard when you lived them. It doesn’t take any special education, nor a large amount of money, or any special skills. All’s it takes is that little big thing called commitment. That is hard to get from people and it is hard to give to people. Unfortunately, we already know that more than 99% will fail. They never commit to anything and will always be part of our attrition rates no matter what endeavors or walk of life we are involved with. Will you allow yourself that kind of fate or will you stop dropping out of everything you do and commit to succeeding for a change. Building a life is a process. So is building your MLM business. A process requires time. Give yourself a chance to succeed and don’t be part of the large attrition rates commonly found in MLM and all walks of life. Thank you for listening.

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