This is part 3 of a 4-part series examining the various coaches and mentors who promise the secret pathway to success in MLM.
It is also a guest post from The MLM Mentor Monitor (pseudonym). The MLM Mentor Monitor is the long term watcher of the MLM world and an active critic of MLM. They have been spending some time observing the mentors who offer training to MLM distributors at all levels on how to expand their businesses and reach success in network marketing. Here are ten things the MLM Mentor Monitor was struck by during his voyage around the world of the MLM mentor.
Check out parts lessons 1 – 5 in part 1 and part 2 of this post.
- Mentors encourage participants to use their “systems” and “strategies”.
Mentors love to use buzz words like “systems” and “strategies” to give their tactics authenticity. The impression given to MLM participants is that, if they follow the mentor’s simple steps, their chances of “crushing it” (ugh) will increase, or more often or not, are guaranteed if followed correctly. In these types of talks mentors usually stand armed with a pen and whiteboard to write a list of steps for participants to follow.
Broadly speaking, of the mentors I listened to, the talks generally focus either on how to open, maintain and close a sale (like traditional marketing between business and client), or how to connect with people and build relationships. Some mentors like to list their “five/seven/ten steps”, others like to sell scripts. Some mentors also include talks on “what to say” to prospects with general lines and rebuttals to common objections (i.e. “this is a pyramid scheme”, “I don’t have the money”, “I don’t have the time”, etc). Again, there were no practical discussions about actually running a business—it is all about how to speak with people, knowing what to say and when to say it, and of course how to manoeuvre around very reasonable questions about MLM.
- Mentors encourage participants to tell stories. Lots of them.
Did I tell you about how much mentors love telling stories? They recommend that participants should do likewise.
But it is not enough to simply type a post and stick it on Facebook, or put your camera on for 20 minutes—mentors are adamant that you should also know what to post, how to post it and what content is best for attracting prospects. Every syllable of every word must be perfect to catch and maintain a prospect’s attention. Content must be regularly posted to build momentum. It is a military operation over a mundane activity the rest of us use to speculate about trash TV, argue about politics, and share pictures of our cats.
I also felt disgusted by the way mentors have no qualms about persuading their mentees to use upsetting, dark periods of their lives to tell a story. They welcome and encourage it, because they argue if you reveal a period of weakness or difficulty and your subsequent recovery and success (with implied credit to the MLM) it will prove a useful persuasion, but this can be at a high emotional cost to the person being persuaded to reveal their vulnerabilities which they may not have overcome at all. The lack of authenticity in this sort of story of hardship or tragedy to success is debilitating over time for someone with a conscience.
Mentors also take opportunity to encourage participants to identify a “why” that they can use to keep motivated in an MLM, even when the money utterly fails to come in. The targets of MLM are those in doubt about their lives or in a period of change, shift or difficulty in their lives. One particular favourite group to target is mothers. It is common to see mentors posting photos of their children (alongside genuinely unfortunate backstories) to attract attention and provide an emotional hook for distributors, leading them to believe that MLMs can open the door to a better life for them and their families. If you have a friend who you know is passionate about an MLM, and posts content such as this, then there is a fair chance he/she was encouraged to use their family by a mentor.
If the last few points all sound familiar, then you have probably sussed that mentors are teaching participants to play the exact same psychological tricks on prospects that they themselves use on those MLM participants. It is all about connecting to people and manipulating them, using any trick in the book, to purchase a product or join a team based on emotion—irrespective of whether they truly want to or can afford to.
- Mentors pop out of nowhere as instant, larger-than-life success stories.
From the opening introduction to a mentor’s video you often have their name, smile and lavish lifestyle thrown into your face. This is then typically followed up with quick-fire bullet points explaining that they have been MLM experts for 10, 20, 30+ years, that they are best-selling authors, that they reached top rank of their company within so many months or years, and that they regularly speak in front of thousands of people all across the world. They wear designer brands, they jet around the world, they drive flashy cars, they live in big houses. All thanks to MLM.
Yet, when researching the mentors online, I found more often than not that their histories have very little before the launch of their services. Generic mentors (those untied to a particular MLM) never mention which MLM they specifically made their money in, meaning it is on you to do the research to try and find out more about them. It is rather like the beginning of The Terminator, where Arnold Schwarzenegger’s naked, murderous cyborg randomly appears on a street, then wanders about wreaking havoc. Mentors just spontaneously appear, instantly successful, with a passion to share their success and knowledge with as many people as possible. All you have to go on is—you guessed it—their tried-and-trusted stories.
That is certainly not to say that all mentors are lying when they claim they made it big in an MLM in the past. From the evidence I’ve managed to see, it is apparent that at least one enjoyed success with a particular MLM (which, surprise surprise, was criticised for essentially being a pyramid scheme and no longer appears to be in operation).
Mentors will do whatever they can to boost their profiles. In one particular example, I came across a mentor who ran their own reality TV show. Essentially, it is a knock-off of The Apprentice, and involves participants flying in from across the United States and the wider world to win the “prize” of MLM coaching for a year or a job within the company. Contestants have a one-minute interview to pitch their skills then, during a sales round, they have five minutes to run around downtown selling bags or journals to random members of the public. It is an incredibly half-baked programme that focuses more on the mentor than it does the contestants, who effectively have only six minutes each to convince the mentor that he/she is worthy of winning the prize. In my view, the true purpose of the show is nothing more than to boost the profile of the mentor.
I should also mention that this show demonstrated the horrific exploitation of personal grief of some contestants that the mentor believed should form the basis of their “inspirational” stories, as I touched on earlier. This included tragic examples of rape and loss of loved ones discussed during the interview process. I could only shake my head and sigh as I heard the mentor shamelessly say that people need big, impactful stories to help them on their MLM journey, but at what price to the individual distributor?
We’ll return with the final two lessons and a wrap-up next week! Stay tuned!