What are your concerns for the future?
If you don’t choose us, what will your life be life?
I’m eavesdropping on a conversation between three women during a multi-level marketing pitch in a coffee shop. The meeting consists of a young mother, alternating rocking her baby in her arms, feeding him, all while entertaining her toddler. The other woman being pitched to is her mom, who handles the babies intermittently. Both woman being pitched are simply dressed in jeans and t-shirts, not wearing a lick of make-up. The sales lady is a well dressed woman in her 20’s, pink lipstick, lots of jewelry. They all want to be entrepreneurs. They may never become one now.
What qualities do you have that would make you a great consultant?
The conversation sounds like an interview, but it’s a slick, savvy sales pitch. And it makes me sick to my stomach, because I know too many women who have been duped into the same type of offer.
Multi-Level Marketing (MLM’s) also known as networking marketing, referral marketing or the not-so-popular pyramid scheme; have been around for a long time. Sometimes people make money doing them. Most of the time, the person that makes money isn’t the one signing on the dotted line. She’s a myth, the fairy tale crafted by branding and women’s dreams. She’s the one who has fancy cars, no financial woes and travels the world telling her story. She’s who these women aspire to be…and she isn’t easy to replicate.
These business schemes target aspiring female entrepreneurs who are vulnerable and who are seeking to build their own path. They are expected to use their own money to start a business with no real risk to the parent company at all.
What is the most important reason that you want to work with us?
The women’s answers are sincere. They want to get free, to make a difference. They want to help other women find confidence. They desire financial security.
Having my own business will provide me with peace of mind.
These schemes ask women to rip into the intricate tapestry of their hard-wrought relationships, completely devaluing the fact that our relationships are built on trust and longevity.
Women tricked into the scam are expected to buy product and sell to people they know, often destroying friendships and networks along the way.
On a scale from one to ten, how much can we expect from you?
The women list how much time they can give, how much they promise to offer. They pre-buy product, excited about free samples. They are clueless of the real hardships of building their own business and moving product. They are called entrepreneurs, but they aren’t. They are sales reps for a huge scam for businesses who cannot build brand loyalty themselves. MLM’s strategically sink teeth into women who want to do their own thing, and who will statistically end up being drained.
“I have support coming into me every month,” the young woman says, “I’ll use that.”
MLM’s are schemes that take advantage of the financially vulnerable. They might offer training, but they do not give the support that true entrepreneurs need.
These types of businesses hurt women because they are not informed of the true risks of investment. Their time, relationships and money are not valued, they are used and discarded if they become frustrated or do not meet ‘sales goals.’ Vulnerable women are duped into believing that they too can become business owners, all in their spare time, while bouncing babies on their hips, taking care of a home, and working another part time job. They are given nothing but a promise and a golden carrot to chase, and then sent out to go sell.
These kinds of schemes have to stop. As women in the professional realm, we must stop them by encouraging our friends to talk to others before signing or buying anything.
Support them by connecting them with people who have been scammed by the same promises. Advise them against signing anything that asks for any money up front. Talk about the risks, talk about the failures. Help them by stopping them from buying into dreams that can’t exists outside of real dedication, hard work and true investment into their education and training. Help them find other options that can really build their future instead of harm them. It’s our responsibility as women to protect each other.
At the end of the meeting, the young woman gives each of the other’s a contract. I don’t blame her, she’s working on her commission.
I’ll hold your baby while sign this contract.
Good close, really smooth. Not so good for anybody else at the table.