Also called pyramid selling or network marketing, multi-level marketing companies grow revenue by hiring and recruiting non-salaried employees referred to as distributors, influencers, consultants, salespeople, or promoters (among other names). In other words, employees generally receive compensation from performance through a pyramid-shaped compensation system.
Getting leads is just one step in the sales cycle. Next, you need to qualify them to determine if they're a good fit, then make your pitch, and finally, follow up. Many network marketers don't like the sales process, but it doesn't have to be hard or scary, especially if you start with leads who've come to you specifically to know about what you offer.
Because of the nature of recruitment and the dream of living the life of riches, it is no stretch to the imagination that sometimes, the real picture gets blurred between the lines. Also, MLM is notoriously known for getting you on the bad books of friends and family. This is of course a general stereotype against the industry and not a concrete consequence.
In an October 15, 2010 article, it was stated that documents of a MLM called Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing reveal that 30 percent of its representatives make no money and that 54 percent of the remaining 70 percent only make $93 a month, before costs. Fortune was under investigation by the Attorneys General of Texas, Kentucky, North Dakota, and North Carolina with Missouri, South Carolina, Illinois, and Florida following up complaints against the company. The FTC eventually stated that Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing was a pyramid scheme and that checks totaling more than $3.7 million were being mailed to the victims.
The formula of future business growth is based on the idea that people don't just want to retire in a traditional format. They crave knowledge and want to feel relevant. They want to improve their own transition and feel compelled to help others avoid the pain and pitfalls they have experienced. They desire a supportive community where their opinion counts and they can openly ask personal, business or other questions. They’re interested in hearing and exploring new ideas and need ways to make new connections through face-to-face interactions.
MLMs are also criticized for being unable to fulfill their promises for the majority of participants due to basic conflicts with Western cultural norms. There are even claims that the success rate for breaking even or even making money are far worse than other types of businesses: "The vast majority of MLMs are recruiting MLMs, in which participants must recruit aggressively to profit. Based on available data from the companies themselves, the loss rate for recruiting MLMs is approximately 99.9%; i.e., 99.9% of participants lose money after subtracting all expenses, including purchases from the company." In part, this is because encouraging recruits to further "recruit people to compete with [them]" leads to "market saturation." It has also been claimed "(b)y its very nature, MLM is completely devoid of any scientific foundations."
Many times the MLM business will require their distributors to purchase a certain amount of product themselves. It can be used as designed or used as freebies to give away to potential recruits — but you’re still spending your hard earned money in order to promote the business. (And in the meantime, not generating any profit from the business while you “ramp up”.)
Here we’ve got a throwback to network marketing’s roots (Remember Tupperware parties? No? There’s a reason for that). Kitchen products, cooking demos, and mommy bloggers galore. Stay-at-home-moms looking for some flexibility are still a HUGE target demographic for MLM, so it’s no surprise that Pampered Chef has done so well that Warren Buffett decided he needed a piece of the action.