Friday, April 2, 2010

Business or badness Part 3: sowing discord

"Six things the Lord hates... and one who sows discord among brothers.." Pr. 6: 19

I'm on a roll here, and I have a lot to say on this subject of multi-level marketing, but one thing I would like to make clear is this: I do not have a personal axe to grind. I have not lost thousands of dollars, been cheated or tricked into bad decisions or even have a close friendship with someone who is caught up in this.

So, if you are just joining us, you may want to read Part 1 and Part 2.

My goal is to help those who have that nagging feeling in their stomach about these types of businesses and help them sort the issues out, from a Christian perspective. It is not my idea of fun to take away anyone's happiness or bad mouth any company in particular. If you are concerned about any specific company, you can go to Part 2 and read the links and research it.

Another thing I would like to avoid is sowing discord among the believers. I believe that introducing network marketing into the church is just asking for discord, though. By its nature, it requires you to take a stand on something. By not attending the parties, not buying the products or not becoming a distributor, you are voting with your wallet and your heart. There will be a division. It, in itself, is divisive. Does that make sense?

By informing people of potential dangers of something, I am choosing to take on a controversial topic and thereby run the risk of offending someone. Let's just say that I am just one little voice in the sea of many, with a desire to wade through the muck of life, just like you are. For some odd reason, God has given me a burden to go into this further. Feel free to turn off the switch, point out pride, unfair jabs or incorrect doctrine. I have nothing staking on this.

I am free!

Which is specifically what MLM promoters are not. Free! Free to admit that their products, company, claims and plans are not exactly what they are? no. Are they free to ask the hard questions like why is this so hard? Why are so many people not jumping on board with this? Why do I not have any friends any more? Why do I have to fake it??

My personal experiences with MLMs and its people are like this:

About 15 years ago, I discovered a problem that may have been helped by a gluten free diet. We were living in Panama at the time, and one of my friends suggested I get a grain mill from a lady she knew in Colorado. She also suggested that we could sell them. I called up the lady and ordered the mill. I loved it. It was my ticket to getting over my problem! I also was learning more about nutrition.

A few years later in North Dakota, I still remembered my friend's exhortation about selling the products. By this time, I wanted the big mixer that went with it, so I called the lady, told her I wanted to sell. She told me that I would have to buy a mixer from her, and I was approved to sell. I bought the mixer from her at full retail price. (over $500.00 at the time!) I had never been to a demo meeting, didn't really know how to use it yet, had no idea how to sell anything, and had no idea this was an MLM. In fact, I didn't care. I was on a new adventure!

I was in virgin territory, and I made a lot of sales. It was really fun too! I had no competition, and I learned so much. My lady was a gracious Christian woman who I really respected.

(Wait a minute.. aren't you against all of this now? Why are you criticizing this?)

My Colorado lady did not play by the rules. She never set quotas. She never pressured me. She always gave me the same discount ( 25%, even when I had a year with very few sales--probably because my first year was so good). I never questioned why I only made $50.00 on such a big ticket item. I never calculated how much I spent in time and ingredients. I was just having fun. And I was creating a "club" around myself of others who were into nutrition. In fact, I was called the prairie woman and my friends were also prairie women!

(Keep in mind, this was 13 years ago, and the internet was not that popular in North Dakota then) For me, the business was more about making friends and having fun than anything. I wasn't trying to recruit people into it.

And then we moved. In the midwest, everyone already had a grain grinder, and a lot of people sold them already. No biggie. I just moved on. It wasn't about the money anyway. I paid off my own equipment and didn't order any inventory. (I used to have 3-4 extra mills and mixers "on hand" for quick purchases!)

When the mill company went bankrupt rather than live up to their "lifetime warranty", I cut my ties for good. Even though the lady I worked with was awesome, the company itself was flawed. I even sold my mixer on the internet and made enough to cover a brand new industrial Kitchen Aid. It works quite well, and the price is much less. My mixer was listed on ebay and sold within 2 hours after I listed it. So, I lost no money whatsoever.

It wasn't until years later, when I started to be stalked by MLM recruiters that I started piecing it all together. My entrance into the kitchen supply selling mode was purely my decision. No one recruited me, gave me pressure, or insisted on quotas. It was so painless. In fact, when I get to heaven and finally meet my Colorado lady face to face (I've never actually MET her), I will hug her and thank her for all that she taught me.

She helped me develop that inner salesperson in me, which has been an asset over the years. It's also been a stumbling block, but we'll cover that in this article.


Braley Mama said...

I have never done any of these things. People who I know have so I usually buy stuff in support of them. Or at least that is my excuse to buy something:O) Happy Good Friday!!!!

Mrs. Parunak said...

Interesting to hear your story. I bet you were a natural at selling. I think it's a lot the same as teaching exercise classes and other motivational things. You are inspiring people to do what you want them to.