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MLM Promoters Often Recruit the Wrong People

By Roger Ellerton Phd, ISP, CMC, Renewal Technologies Inc.

MLM, which stands for multilevel marketing, is a genuine and potentially profitable business opportunity. Yet, before getting involved, you need to understand if it is congruent with your personality.

At one time or another, each of us has been approached by someone promoting an MLM product or business opportunity. Some familiar MLM companies are: Mary Kay, Amway, NSA, Herbalife, Nu Skin and ViSalus (Body by Vi). For those involved with MLM, there are primarily two ways to make money: sell product or sign-up someone to sell product as part of your organization (often referred to as a downline) - the latter often being the more profitable.

Frequently MLM promoters focus on the wrong personalities when recruiting individuals to be part of their downline. In fact, it is estimated that only about one in ten people recruited succeed at making a full-time living with MLM. To help explain this poor success ratio, let's consider the Options - Procedures meta program from NLP.

In NLP, meta programs are filters that operate at an unconscious level and determine how you perceive the world around you (see NLP Meta Programs Part I). They have a major influence on how you communicate with others and the behaviors you manifest. For this article, we will focus on the Options - Procedures meta program. This meta program is based on the question: Does the person prefer to keep their options open and explore alternatives or feel most comfortable following established procedures?

The terms Options and Procedures describe two ends of a spectrum. On one end, we have Options people who are motivated by the possibility of doing something in an alternative way. They are the type of people who will develop procedures, yet not follow them. They enjoy breaking or bending the rules. Exploring new ideas and possibilities is of great interest. They may begin a new project and not feel compelled to finish it. It is often said of these people that if someone gave them a guaranteed way to make a million dollars, the first thing they would do is look at ways to improve the process. These people are motivated when they hear words or phrases such as: alternatives, break the rules, choice, flexibility, unlimited possibilities, the sky's the limit, expand your choices, let's look at other options. These people do well in situations that require developing a different way of thinking or alternatives to current systems - fashion designing, process re-engineering.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have Procedures people who like to follow established rules and processes. Once they understand a procedure, they will follow it repeatedly. They have great difficulty developing new processes and feel lost without a clearly defined procedure. They are more concerned about how to do something than about why they should do it. For them, bending or breaking rules is sacrilege! They are motivated by words and phrases such as: correct way, tried and true, first ... then ... lastly, clearly defined path, proven methodology. Procedures people do well in a structured environment with clearly defined processes, for example bookkeeping or commercial airline piloting.

In a general work context, about forty percent of the people have a preference for Options, forty percent for Procedures and twenty percent are fairly evenly balanced between the two.

Now, let's return to looking at MLM. Of the two types of people, which one will most likely be successful as an MLM distributor? I suggest that MLM organizations have been successful because they have developed proven, successful ways to sell their products and to build an extensive and profitable downline. In other words, their ideal candidate is someone who follows a proven set of procedures - a Procedures person!

Yet, when I am approached by an MLM distributor or attend an MLM recruiting meeting, I repeatedly hear words such as: the sky's the limit, gives you freedom, you are your own boss, flexibility, explore the possibilities, keep your options open, ... . That is, they are speaking to and attracting Options people. Options people are attracted by the freedom and flexibility of the opportunity and readily sign-up. The first time they market the product or business opportunity, they may follow the proven process. The next time, they will probably do it a different way and different yet again the time following that. At some point, they may develop a brilliant way to develop their business. However, they don't take time to fully develop the procedures before moving on to something new. Thus, they do not achieve the full potential of the opportunity.

Procedures people, those more likely to be successful with the MLM opportunity, are turned off by lack of structure and process. That is they are not interested in keeping their options open, exploring possibilities, etc. They are looking for and attracted to a proven process, something that is tried and true, with clearly defined steps. You can identify Procedures people by their behaviors and the language they use. They tend to be more organized and speak about a process or series of events. If you ask them a "Why" question they will tend to answer it as a "How" question. For example, "Why did you choose to come to this event?" A Procedures person hears this as "How did you come to be at this event?" and replies with a story or a sequence of steps: "I was at work and my friend mentioned it to me. I checked with my schedule and found I had the evening free. So I contacted Bob to see if he was interested. Etc."

On a related note, it has been discovered that telemarketers with a preference for the Procedures pattern sell about three times as much as Options people, simply because sales (and MLM) is a very structured process.

Author: Roger Ellerton is a certified NLP trainer, certified management consultant and the founder and managing partner of Renewal Technologies. The above article is based on his book Live Your Dreams Let Reality Catch Up: NLP and Common Sense for Coaches, Managers and You.

Copyright © 2006 Renewal Technologies Inc. All rights reserved.

Books and ebooks by Roger Ellerton

Consider the following books and ebooks by Roger Ellerton.

NLP book: Live Your Dreams NLP book: 5 step action plan NLP book: Parents' Handbook NLP book: Win-Win Influence Self-Publish Your Book NLP and Personal Growth Thoughts Volume 1 Book: NLP Techniques Anyone Can Use
  • Live Your Dreams Let Reality Catch Up: NLP and Common Sense for Coaches, Managers and You covers all of the basic NLP material and is a great resource for coaches, managers and those wanting to learn NLP.
  • Live Your Dreams Let Reality Catch Up: 5 Step Action Plan provides a road map for achieving your goals or coaching others to do so.
  • Parent's Handbook: NLP and Common Sense Guide for Family Well-Being provides effective ways to improve your communication with your children and your children's communication with you, their teachers and friends. You will also learn how to support your children in school and elsewhere.
  • Win-Win Influence: How to Enhance Your Personal and Business Relationships provides proven processes for you to be the difference that makes the difference in creating better results in your life, career or any place two or more people gather.
  • Self-Publishing Your Book: A Guide for First-Time and DIY Authors shares insights and experiences based on my mistakes and lessons learned while writing and publishing eight books. This book is getting a little dated, however there are many ideas that you should find useful.
  • NLP and Personal Growth Thoughts: A Series of Articles by Roger Ellerton. Volumes 1 and 2 each contain 15 articles. Some articles will educate you on basic NLP concepts, while others will challenge your current way of thinking and how you view the world around you.
  • NLP Techniques Anyone Can Use provides ten typical NLP processes that illustrate the breadth and potential of NLP.

For more detailed information on these books, please click here.

These books are available through various online book retailers including Google Play and Amazon.