Stop with the Sleazy Sales Pitch: How to NOT Become a Direct Sales Pariah


When I was younger, there was this creepy old dude that lived in our neighborhood. He wasn’t a bad person, mind you, just weird. He creeped me out.

He was always trying to invite himself into our home, into our yard, into our lives. He would bring a gift or a treat for the kids, sometimes flowers for my mom. He wasn’t evil. Just weird. Mom would be cordial in the yard, but never let him inside. She tried to refuse his gifts, but sometimes, he’d just insist she take the cookies, or whatever, and tell us all to have a great day.

It was creepy.

I mean, he was essentially a total stranger, banging on our door, trying to get us to let him in. No matter how nice he may have been, no matter how wonderful his gifts and treats were, it was just uncomfortable to have this stranger try to force his way into our lives.

Are you being creepy in your network marketing business? Or worse – are you letting someone else be creepy on your behalf?

Recently a colleague of mine complained about a well-meaning friend of hers that gave her private phone number to his upline leader. That leader then called to pester her about calling another number to listen to a new product and a great business opportunity that she could get in on if she acted fast.


If this is you, shame on you.

Why the Sleazy Sales Pitch is Absolutely the WRONG Approach

First, the friend should honor the friendship first. If he didn’t feel comfortable calling his friend about this “new opportunity”, he never should have sent his upline leader to do his creepy work for him.

Second, the leader obviously wasn’t competent enough to make the offer in the first place, or my colleague wouldn’t have needed to call another number to listen to the canned sales pitch.

Pre-recorded messages are the first step in warming up a cold lead and should never be used in lieu of a person-to-person interaction. This leader was pawning off his creepy work to a machine. Yuck!

Third, there’s a mentality in this organization that this is the right way to generate business. I’m sure this isn’t a one-off instance. That means there are probably hundreds of other network marketers in this organization doing the exact same thing!

People, please! THIS HAS GOT TO STOP!

Stop Being Creepy and Start Respecting Friendship Boundaries

Three-way calls tend to feel too much like tag-team wrestling, which is why I recommend against them, but there are times when a new recruit needs help. Instead of defaulting to the creepy, pushy sales tactics, new recruits should:

#1: Always make personal contact to anyone in your warm market. If you know the person, it’s up to you to make the introductions. Don’t pawn this off to your leader or someone else. Think of it like a party. Would you leave your leader to introduce themselves, or would you make the introductions?

#2: Always get permission before proceeding. Maybe your friend feels uncomfortable sharing her details with your leader. Maybe you feel uncomfortable asking the right questions to your friend. It’s always a good idea to make sure everyone’s comfortable before getting started.

#3: Honor the friendship first. If your friend isn’t interested, doesn’t feel comfortable or willing to connect with your leader, honor that. Don’t think that just because she shared her private line with you that it’s okay to share it with anyone else. That’s a violation of privacy. Period. Think of how you would feel if some creepy stranger barged into your private space without permission or formal introduction. Act accordingly.

#4: NEVER use a recording once you’ve made personal contact. As I mentioned, recordings are the top of the marketing funnel for people you don’t know. It allows them to self-select into your program. It gives a lead the ability to make a decision as to whether or not they want to learn more. That’s the equivalent of showing up to your doctor’s office for the third time, only this time to find him replaced by a machine. AWKWARD! Everything that’s in that 5-minute recording can be memorized and shared personally if you’ve already got them on the phone.

#5: Take full responsibility for your own results. Your friends know that you’re new in a direct sales business. They expect you to be imperfect, and learn as you go. Most of your friends probably won’t mind being your “guinea pig” to practice on – if you honor the friendship first. Remember that it’s up to you to learn the right way to prospect, the right words to say, and to gain product knowledge so that you will eventually be an expert in your offerings. No one else can do that work for you.

Frankly, it’s better to learn this stuff sooner, rather than later. If you’ve ever wondered why your friends run screaming for the hills when you show up talking about your latest business opportunity, this is probably why.

When you honor your friendships first, and treat others respectfully, you’ll stop being the creepy old dude in the network marketing neighborhood, and you just might get invited over for dinner!

In addition to founding #dstips on Twitter, Lisa also publishes the popular and highly recommendedPartyOn! A weekly ezine for direct sales professionals. Get your free business building tips at Home Party


About Author

Lisa Robbin Young is a performing artist, author, business coach and mentor, founding multiple businesses in her years as an entrepreneur. Lisa brings a sharp, analytical mind to being an entrepreneur in today’s multi-tasking world. Her ability to brainstorm and break problems into their smallest parts earned her a prestigious position in The Governor’s Problem Solving Institute before she started high school. According to her mother, Lisa’s been asking tough questions for over 30 years. A National Merit and National Achievement Scholar, Lisa prides herself on both book smarts and common sense. An award winning writer, speaker, graphic artist and composer, Lisa has recorded two full-length albums, and published numerous articles, poems and literary works. She blends logic and creativity in her approach to life and business. She’s both directed and performed in numerous local theater productions and is currently working on an edu-tainment television series for the web. She also built one of the first ever e-commerce websites in the early 1990′s. And her kitchen sink is still full of dishes from time to time. Lisa is known for her direct, no-nonsense approach to helping entrepreneurs pin-point the obstacles that keep them from being successful. She pulls no punches and isn’t afraid to tell it like it is – a refreshing, disruptive approach to our common thought patterns. Her breakthrough book “Home Party Solution” and the correlating web project, Direct Sales Classroom, provides specific hands-on training for direct sales consultants that want to build a profitable business, instead of an expensive hobby. Her coaching project, Business Action Hero, helps entrepreneurs find elegantly simple solutions to be more profitable in life and business. Lisa’s new book, The Secret Watch, is expected to be released early 2012.


  1. Thanks for sharing this article with your community. It amazes me how many people think that behaving like that is normal. We wouldn’t tolerate it from any other industry, why do we think it’s okay for Direct Sales Professionals? It’s not. Period.

  2. And to add… If you really don’t want to do the work yourself, think about why? Is it because you don’t want to admit you’re part of an MLM or have the “pushy salesperson” image? Are you afraid that you might be “scamming” your leads/friends/family and don’t want to do the work yourself to avoid blame? Think long and hard – MLM and direct sales aren’t for everyone. You have to really believe in your product – want to change the world with it. Notice how the most successful MLMers are all coaches and consultants. It’s because they believe in helping others – not because they believe Amway will save the world. Maybe its time to start a different type of business (your own, not a biz opp)? Maybe not… Just think about it. 🙂

  3. Great point, Cheryl. I always tell a potential recruit that anyone CAN run a direct sales business, but not everyone will and not everyone should. You illustrate exactly why. Thanks!

  4. Pingback: Why Direct Sales is Wrong for Most Moms | Crunchy Business

  5. I absolutely love my business products, but I’m an extreme Introvert & shy and that seems to be a handicap for me. But because I love the business/company/concept so much, I just keep going.

    I wonder if a positive point to being an introvert is that because I don’t like people invading my space and being busy, I have never done the things you mentioned in your to anyone. I assume everyone is like me and don’t want to be bugged or pushed.

    Since I’m not aggressive like others in the industry, I don’t get the top recruiting results. If f anyone gives me a number to call, I probably would not call it. And if anyone gave out my phone number, I would consider that invading my space and would be extremely annoyed or even angry and would put up a lot of walls.

    I’ve noticed that people who’ve been in my downline at one time or another and had previously been with another company in the industry, seem to assume I’m going to be pushy. But I never never am. And I’m so extremely laid back that I’m not upset if people drop out of the business – I just care about them as people & care about their lives & families.

    Like I mentioned, I’m not remotely close to being a top recruiter, but I do at least respect other people’s space. Maybe I’m not quite the top failure I assumed I was.

    I really like this post. Thank you!

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