PROBLEM. At some point in your leadership of your MLM downline, you will lose your control as a leader. If you’re lucky your downline will reach a point where you will not be able to communicate with the newest distributor; you may not even be aware that someone new has even signed up deep within your organization for days or even weeks.
You can only train so many people effectively by yourself. And if you spawn a trainer, you can only control his actions so far until he achieves his own influence over your downline. If you are lucky enough to build a huge organization the very fact that it grows so big will eventually negate your influence over the newest person because you have little or no contact with that person.
SOLUTION. So, “Systems” developed in MLM, specifically Amway and Quixtar. The newest person is handed a tape by the upline, and told to “listen to this person; he is your leader”. A certain familiarity is bred, the new person knows that a leader exists at the top; a leader worth listening to. The leader is an example of success. The leader is proof that the opportunity is valid.
Proponents of these systems insist that listening to the tapes lend continuity downline, as a recognizable leader or leaders is always present on the tapes. And if everyone is listening to the same tapes, when a sponsor quotes advice from the tape to the new person and that new person then hears the same advice later on a tape, the ideas, lessons, and examples are recognized and given credibility.
Also, given the usual atmosphere of these recordings, the listener will hear applause, laughter, music, personal stories of overcoming obstacles, and heart-tugging emotional outbursts. A “good” feeling sweeps over the listener, s/he can feel compelled or motivated to “work the business” due to these good feelings.
Even more effective, is when the new person attends one of these functions where a recognized “leader” is speaking. The new person is surrounded by these sights and sounds, and “good feelings”. A camaraderie develops with his fellow distributors sharing the moment and absorbing the stories of encouragement and motivation.
S/He leaves the rally, or turns off the tape, and feels that the business opportunity truly is valid, the leaders are competent, and their teachings will be effective in building their own MLM distributorship.
Opponents (including myself) of these “systems” see AT LEAST THREE problems with the current systems.
1. The motivation is temporary. The hard reality is that potential new distributors and potential clients did not hear the same words as the distributor. The “real world” overcomes the motivation in a short time.
2. The opinions of the “leaders” expressed on these tapes, and CDs and videos, and rallies, are sometimes merely that; opinions. And yet, because of the atmosphere, they may persuade a distributor to believe these opinions as fact. Ideologies expressed, other than basic business-building, may conflict with the distributor’s own beliefs; leaving the distributor confused about his own faith, political views, or family values. The distributor may erroneously believe that he must “adjust his thinking” to match the leader’s views or success may not be in his future.
3. Because of the temporary nature of the motivation supplied, an insistence is made by the leaders to continue with daily listening of these media. This creates THREE additional problems.
A. The distributor becomes ingrained (some would say “brainwashed”) with the mantras, stories, and rote responses of the leader. Their personalities change, they become “automatic” in their thinking, equating everything they do and say with what the leader might do or say.
B. The tapes and rallies are not free. They are an additional expense to running an MLM business. And because of the repetition of hearing the leaders say that daily motivation is essential; they become a daily, monthly and yearly expense of purchasing more and more in order to be “on the system”; to be “committed to the system.”
C. The “System” is a profit center, a secondary business, to the leaders. A conflict of interest is present. The rallies, the tapes, the books, become more than a training aid for the distributor. They become a “product” promoted more than the products the MLM distributor is supposed to be motivated to sell.
These are the pros and cons that I see with MLMs promoting these type motivational systems. A system is needed for the newest distributor to follow, to learn the techniques she needs to be a success in an MLM venture. Yet, care has to be taken in order that she does not become a “clone” of a charismatic leader or merely a “captive client” purchasing the motivational “dream” and never building an MLM business.
Tomorrow, we will look at One History of these motivational support systems.