Wow, that's a good one. Actually, it's a great question without an equally great answer.
In any network marketing program, of course, one of your major goals is to establish a viable income through the sales of products to an increasing list of customers. When you add a Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) plan to the mix, things get a little more complicated.
A pure network marketing program without an MLM component will have to be able of assuring the business owner (you) of a reasonable income strictly from the sale of product. Not too many businesses can do this. Unless you are selling some big ticket item, such as a car or a refrigerator and getting an equally impressive commission per sale, you are probably going to have to run your legs off to make enough sales to make your business worthwhile. Unfortunately, big ticket items don't normally lend themselves to network marketing, most people in network marketing lack the skills necessary to sell big ticket items, and there is very little opportunity for residual income in the form of sales to the same customer at a later date.
However, it is obvious to anyone that the only way to survive in a network marketing situation without MLM is to sell, sell, sell. There's just not any other way for your business to survive.
When the MLM component is introduced into a network marketing business, a new set of questions arise.
Probably, the income from the individual items sold is not going to be large enough to create a large enough income to reward you sufficiently, or at least not to the extent you wish to be rewarded. It will soon become apparent that the way to grow your income is to grow your business. Since there are only so many hours in the day, and since you probably got into a network marketing business in hopes of having some free time for yourself and your family, it will quickly become obvious that the most effective way to grow your business is going to be by growing your downline.
Of course, some companies dictate that in order to participate in effective levels of income or in deeper levels of override commissions, you must make a certain amount of sales yourself. This takes care of the question in many instances. To survive you must sell first and then recruit.
In the case of a company that does not have this requirement, however, it can be very hard to decide which goal to work for, particularly in the beginning. . . more sales, or more downline.
Although there probably is not a single perfect answer for every situation, I do have my own favorite answer. I would prefer to make sales at first. The reason for this is simple. If I am trying to recruit others into my business, my downline, the easiest argument is the tried and true, “. . . if I can do it, anybody can!" In fact, like most people, I was very uncomfortable asking people to join me in a network marketing program until I actually had checks coming in myself. For me, this is the deciding factor for the decision to begin concentrating on recruiting.
Another point is that one of the most important functions a “recruiter" can have for his or her downline is that of training. I am going to be better able to assist my downline in getting their new home businesses off the ground if I have some personal experience myself. I would like to add at this point, although it is slightly off subject, that, if at all possible you should use the product yourself and encourage your downline members to use the product themselves. As I have often said, one of the best network marketers you have, whether in your downline or not, is a satisfied customer. Satisfied customers cannot say enough good things about you and your product, and if you or your downline IS that satisfied customer, you probably don't really have to worry that much about your network marketing skills or those of your downline members. Enthusiasm and conviction go a long way.
Having said all that, let's talk about my friend, Danny.
I said that there is probably not a single perfect answer to the question, “Should I recruit or sell at the start of my MLM business?" I also plopped down on the side of selling first and recruiting second.
Well, Danny was retired military when he became aware of the possibilities with a new MLM company in Texas. You may have heard of it. Ameriplan. There were two unfortunate facts when it came to selling Ameriplan, at least as far as Dave was concerned. First, he was retired military and had no need of the services it provided. Second, a large part of his “established network" was made up of retired and active duty military as well. They too had no need of the Ameriplan services. That didn't stop Danny. He lived in an area with two major military bases within about seventy miles of each other. He realized that many young military spouses were looking for some sort of additional income for their families and many of these were young women with children at home. It was a built-in market. Danny opted for recruiting and never looked back. He shortly built a large network of military wives, and managed to scrape together enough sales himself to make quite a respectable showing.
Danny learned one other thing that he shared with those of us also trying to make it as Ameriplan distributers. He made many of his sales WHILE he was trying to recruit. Once, for example, while speaking with a young military wife, she mentioned that while she was not interested in pursuing the opportunity, she would send his material to her parents who would be able to use the program. Shortly thereafter, they did sign up for the services. In fact, Danny was of the opinion that if you tried to sell to someone and they weren't interested that was the end of the conversation, but if you tried to recruit someone and they weren't interested in the business opportunity, they might still be interested in the product itself.
So, as you can see, while I may prefer to try to sell first and recruit later, it is not the final answer. You will have to make the choice for yourself based on your own situation and the program which you have chosen to promote.
The author is retired from the Army after 21 years of service. He has worked as an accountant, purchasing agent, optical lab manager, restaurant manager, instructor and long-haul, over-the-road truck driver. He has been a member of Mensa for several years, and has written and published poetry, essays, and articles on various subjects for the last 40 years. He has been an active internet marketer since 2000, and now makes his living online.
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