Selling in America – Avoiding the Carnage of Direct Marketing

Does this person really think I’m interesting? Does he truly like my work? Does he honestly believe I have a beautiful family?

Having your ego stroked felt good, but now as you lie in bed late at night, a dark feeling creeps into your awareness and the primal instincts that have protected human beings for eons gradually convinces you that you’re under attack. Not by a hungry saber-toothed tiger or velociraptor, but by something much more insidious – one of your own.

Soon, you begin to realize that the person manipulating your ego was vying to achieve a goal, and that his entire persona was nothing more than a meticulously crafted sales presentation – from his fine clothes, to his quick laugh and easy smile. And then that sinking feeling arrives, plummeting you ever deeper into your fears and insecurities – Am I interesting? Am I good at my work? Am I a successful parent?

Typically one can gauge an organization’s priorities by how it utilizes its resources. The same goes for America. By far, the highest paid jobs in America belong to sales professionals, which makes sense since we are participating in a consumer driven economy. America rewards those that keep products and services moving, but as we have recently learned the hard way, lapses in oversight, particularly when it involves sales incentives, can have a crushing effect on society. The benefits of a consumer driven economy are obvious – it’s made America the wealthiest nation on the planet, but the culture of “get rich” seems to have eroded the principles of what America was built upon, and sales professionals are getting the blame.

Is it truly the American way to reward individuals and measure success by one’s ability to push products and services by any means necessary? Utilizing well crafted sales tactics designed to manipulate the human ego, or by outright attacking the fears and insecurities of sensitive and well mannered consumers?

Good marketing organizations know this is not the case, but they are also acutely aware of the fine line between selling the benefits of a product or service and exploiting the egos and insecurities of consumers.

The smooth skills of sales representatives are expected to a degree, but what happens when the pitch comes from a friend?

Blurring the line between family, friendship and building your Multi Level Marketing network.

In the late 1980′s, Tonight Show host Johnny Carson asked his guest, Donald Trump, what he would do if he lost all his fortune. Donald replied “I’d join Amway.” Even though the crowd booed, mainstream America was introduced to the possibility that direct marketing might be a viable way to generate income.

Since then, a barrage of direct marketing programs have been unleashed on society incorporating a variety of products and services. As a result, individuals have been tapping into personal relationships in order to expedite growth and income, which bids the question:

Is Multi Level Marketing a channel for average citizens to gain financial freedom and independence, or an insidious attack poisoning the very fabric that good community is built upon? Are consumer based “relationships” infiltrating the foundation of openness and trust of family and friendship?

The cost of “gaining independence and fulfilling your financial dreams” through direct marketing is often at the risk of losing what is of the highest value to most Americans – the love and respect of family and friends. Not because they disapprove of what you are doing, but because you’ve somehow tainted a personal, trusting relationship – a relationship that may have taken years to build – by reducing them into a consumer.

The claim “word of mouth is the best advertising there is”, which is at the cornerstone of direct marketing, should contain the caveat “unbiased word of mouth”. If someone has something to gain from personally promoting a product or service, it is no longer “word of mouth”, it is simply deceptive advertising. Unless, of course, the salesperson acknowledges the fact that he is benefiting from the sale and perhaps can even offer the same benefits to you. Which leads us back to this – if Multi Level Marketing is presented in an open and honest way that respects and honors the personal relationships it relies upon for its success, does it have the potential of providing significant benefits and rewards for all participants as a viable marketing and income solution? Since my personal experience with direct marketing is limited, I don’t know this to be the case, but I suspect there is a chance it may be true.

Whether they are aware of it or not, most MLM’s operate with some degree of deception. If you want to test this, simply ask a direct marketer (preferably one that has approached you) how much profit he is making. There are many reasons why he may not want to answer, but the fact remains, if someone is trying to enlist your talents, time and effort as a partner into his enterprise he should be prepared to answer all of your questions and concerns to the best of his ability. There are many legitimate “honest” answers to why someone isn’t performing well at the moment in any business, if that indeed is the case.

Hard Selling (see its definition below) has given the sales and marketing industry a bad rap, even as highly targeted and relevant search tools like Google are forcing unscrupulous sellers to clean up their act or be forced into oblivion. While it’s imperative that professional marketers continue to keep the faith and resist the temptation into deceptive advertising, it’s even more critical that the potential carnage of sullied relationships within American communities resulting from unadvised multi marketers be minimized through education, the practice of moral principle and some degree of private regulation.

Hard Selling: (Business Directory.com) “Applying psychological pressure (by appealing to someone’s fears, greed, or vanity) to persuade the prospect to make a quick purchase decision. This approach is justified on the ground that most people are lazy and will postpone making a decision-even if it were in their best interest to make the commitment. This practice is, however, reviled when its sole purpose is the salesperson’s gain at the customer’s detriment.”