DISCLAIMER: I’LL ALWAYS GIVE YOU THE TRUTH. THAT BEING SAID: I’M CURRENTLY AN INDEPENDENT ASSOCIATE WITH STREAM ENERGY.
NETWORK MARKETING AKA MULTI-LEVEL MARKETING (MLM)
For many people, MLM companies are a huge waste of time. Some companies are outright scams, others make dangerous misrepresentations. The majority of the people who will be enticed by these claims WILL NOT be successful.
You may have seen John Oliver’s MLM episode on Last Week Tonight. If not, edutain yourself and watch it. I agree with Oliver’s positions most of the time, but in this episode, I think he took a few points to the extreme and failed to address one big one entirely.
MLMS are HURTING PEOPLE
The most heart-wrenching feature of the episode had to be the community meeting (20:50) in which three struggling Latino associates of Herbalife share how they’ve collectively lost $46,000. SHEESH, that sucks.
The fact that some of these companies incentivize misguided associates into stockpiling product is deplorable. Also unacceptable: hoodwinking your friends into joining your downline so you can make a few bucks.
MLMS are CULTS
Oliver humorously highlighted the eccentric CEOs of a few companies. I’ve never heard of him before, but JR Ridinger might be the most ridiculous “businessman” I’ve ever come across (4:08).
The trouble with marketing, ridiculous SELLS. And cults are masters of marketing. Many of these speakers study neurolinguistic programing (NLP) and know exactly what to say/do to create a palpable excitement in the air, priming buyers for purchase & indoctrination.
I’ve experienced this on a two occasions:
JUNE 2010: OAKS
My first week as a CUTCO rep, the team took a trip to a convention or what I found to be a hypnotic pep-rally complete with a hyped up MC and beach balls flying across the room. Awards were presented to top reps, success stories and testimonials were shared. People were going wild. And frankly, it was motivating. I went on to have my best (and only) week in the business, selling ~$10,000 worth of knives.
APRIL 2014: LAS VEGAS
Noteworthy is a Conference for the secondary mortgage market. One night, they had a hypnotist do a show after the regular event ended. Marshall Sylver put on a great performance. If you haven’t ever seen a hypnotist, you’ll be amazed. I watched as some of the shiest, most unassuming business people fell into a trance and followed every word as Sylver had them act like complete FOOLs. The power of suggestion is 100% REAL.
The next day, Sylver had another spot, this time a sales presentation pitching his personal development training program. His pitch was flawless and before it was over, people were literally RUNNING to the back of the room to buy. I WAS ONE OF THEM. I literally spent $2,000 on the spot for a flash-drive containing a few GBs of files (luckily, when I came to my senses the next day I returned it for a full refund).
The magic was in the words and delivery of his presentation. He had people raise their hands in agreement every few minutes. He repeated key words and had consistent, dynamic hand gestures associated with his big ideas. He appealed to our subconscious by using specific words and phrases.
Here are some more practical NLP TECHNIQUES:
- AGREE MORE OFTEN
Even if you disagree, start your rebuttal by highlighting your common ground. Start your phrase with something like: “that’s a great point”. Start with “yes” instead of “no and people will be more receptive to what you have to say.
2. DON’T SAY THE WORD “BUT”
“But” is a negative word. It typically connotes rejection. Avoid whenever possible and people will have a more positive interaction. Use “and” instead.
3. INSTEAD OF APOLOGIZING, SAY THANK YOU (when appropriate of course)
Apologizing just reminds people why they’re upset with you. If you’re late for a meeting, say “Thank you for waiting”.
For more reading on the subject, I would HIGHLY recommend Pitch Anything (here’s the first chapter for free).
SERVICE BASED MLMS
I’m not a fan of any company, MLM or otherwise, that doesn’t produce quality products. There’s no tolerance from the market for CRAP and the recipe for longevity is QUALITY.
John Oliver didn’t mention this at all, but some MLMs offer services. Even better, ESSENTIAL SERVICES. The reason I’ve decided to affiliate myself with STREAM Energy is for three main reasons:
- NO-BRAINER PRODUCT
When you have a product that sells itself, you know you’ve got a viable business. There are millions of people living in energy-deregulated states who are still paying their utility companies full price for energy. Showing them how to have their utility company buy energy from a competitive supplier takes less than 3 minutes and will save them $50-100 or more per year. Also – NO INVENTORY to stockpile in your garage.
- RESIDUAL INCOME
Electric and gas bills are the among the FIRST thing people pay for each and every month (premium health drinks and skincare are probably near the bottom of that list). My STREAM customers are in for the long run (average ~1.5yr contract). The portfolio of energy accounts I’m building pays me each and every month, whether I’m actively working the business or not.
- SOLID COMPANY, SUPPORT & TEAMWORK
STREAM is now licensed in TX (2005), GA (2008), PA (2010), MD (2011), NJ (2011), NY (2012), and DC (2012). They’ve consistently developed their product line and now also offer wireless plans on Sprint’s network, roadside-assistance, identity theft protection, credit monitoring and Virtual MD (2015).
The corporate team has consistently improved the company and I’ve had a first hand experience over a span of 6 years:
JANUARY 2011: KING OF PRUSSIA
My parents heard it from a friend of a friend, “energy just deregulated in PA, and there’s a huge opportunity to help people understand the new, competitive market”.
We watched the business presentation and LOVED the model. The rates were significantly lower than PECO was offering (our utility provider) and PECO facilitated the switch (and continued responsibility for billing and customer support). People just needed to be educated – they’re overspending on energy if they don’t instruct their utility to work with a competitive supplier like STREAM.
We worked the business for a month or two but eventually lost momentum and ran out of steam. I attribute our “failure” to a lack of support & teamwork. In any MLM, a HUGE factor to your success is the commitment from your “up-line” to help you learn the business. We pretty much figured it out on our own and fortunately we each made over $1k in start-up bonuses and have been earning a few dollars per month for the last 5 years.
Of course, my parent’s energy account was with STREAM and over the last 6 years, we haven’t had a single complaint about the service. We still get a bill from PECO with a little STREAM logo on the second page showing our rate versus PECOs.
Actually one complaint – When we forgot to renew the fixed-rate contract, the bill lapsed to a month-to-month at a higher variable rate – easily corrected.
Now, let’s fast forward.
NOVEMBER 2016 – PHILADELPHIA
I hadn’t thought about STREAM in years but I had met a few success stories with the company. I decided to reach out to one of the best – Steve Lloyd
In addition to building a $30MM+ real estate portfolio, he’s built a 6-figure passive income portfolio with his STREAM side-business. When we first met he was taking a breather from building STREAM and was focusing on his hedge fund instead. When I reached out it 2016, he was FIRED UP and really working STREAM again.
I had to start over from scratch (no more $1.75 per month 🙁 ) as Steve’s associate but I was IN. It’s an inspiration working with people who HUSTLE HARD and Steve is the epitome of a hard worker. He doesn’t quit and he’s committed to his team member’s success.
I got started in the business for $199 (promo from $375 regular) and was instantly set up with a personal, hosted website (mine is rh.mystream.com) and an online training/marketing platform. Then I was off, sending my prospects to visit the website and sign up (takes less than 3 minutes).
I signed up first three “customer points” right away. Roadside Assistance/Virtual MD/Identity Theft Protection for my fiancée and I ($30 per month, counts for 1 point). Then I brought on one of my family member’s electric and gas account (2 points total). That trigger my first bonus: $200. $1 profit after day one!
Over the next few weeks I signed up 12 more customer points and earned my second bonus: $1,000 pure profit.
I slowed down after my initial push so I could focus on this website. Even without actively working the business, the product really does sell itself. Just today (12.19.2016), we had a Verizon rep come to the door (we’ve been putting off paying for internet for too long). I signed up for Fios and the representative, Amber switched her home electric account to STREAM. WIN-WIN and another customer in the books.
ARE MLMS A TOTAL RIP OFF?
The answer is quite simply – NO. Yes, there are other MLM companies that prey on the gullible and incentivize associates to deceive their friends & family however STREAM isn’t one of them.
I’ve met some amazing people so far in this business. At a training event my fiancée and I met two of the top earners – George Koufalis and James Levins. George is using his STREAM income and network to build a real estate portfolio and fashion brand and James owns multiple businesses in the auto industry. Steve Lloyd has raised MILLIONS for his hedge fund from the relationships he’s built in STREAM.
At the end of the day, some people just aren’t cut out for this type of gig. You’ve gotta be self-motivated, persistent and ambitious to make it. Fortunately (and unlike many other MLMs), there’s nothing to lose. There are no quotas, minimum monthly orders or additional fees. And if you help a handful of people save money on a few bills they’re paying too much for, you’ll earn $1,000 start-up bonus in your first few weeks.
If you’re interested in learning more, visit my sales page and please, as always post a comment with any questions!