Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The downside to business cards

I hand out business cards to people and at venues which I think are likely to actually want slings and baby carriers. One of these venues was a MOPS boutique sale which I participated in. I'm glad I did, because I met some nice people and got some orders, which was incredibly encouraging to this budding entrepreneur...but I just ran headlong into the downside. Lots and lots of people have my phone number.

I just got a call from someone who claimed to be another vendor at the same MOPS sale. I don't remember her or the other girl she mentioned, but it is likely she's telling the truth. Maybe I did meet her there. Regardless, I don't understand why she thought I'd want a sales call from her about Melaleuca products.

I'm usually pretty good about saying "no thanks" and hanging up on sales callers, but this one seemed harder somehow because she gave the impression that we'd met and talked. So I felt bad just cutting her off. So I listened. And made noncommittal noises. And fumed.

From her explanation of this fabulous new business, I got a very, very bad feeling about it. It sounds awfully similar to a pyramid scheme. So much so that while I listened to her, I looked it up online. I am definitely not the only person who thinks it sounds fishy. While it may, perhaps, barely skate by on the legal side of things, it is certainly not something I'd ever want to be involved in. As far as I can see, MLM "businesses" are pretty much just pyramid schemes with a few products thrown in, just to keep their salespeople annoying.

Gosh, I hate being "sold" on things. No, I don't want your products. No, I definitely don't want to pay $29/year for the privilege of buying your products. And I really really really don't want to try to strong-arm everyone I know into buying into this scheme as well, so that I can make a profit off of their misfortune. Sheesh.

It is disturbing to me how many of the "businesses" that are billed as perfect for the stay-at-home mom seem to be built on this idea. A really good article on the topic can be found on Brain, Child's website, specifically here.

I'm curious to know if any of my readers have been (or currently are) involved in any of these kinds of businesses (specifically ones which include "down-line" associates), and what your experiences have been. Just please tell me that you don't collect other sellers' business cards for the purpose of irritating them with sales calls later. :)



mhcowen said...

Hey, Emily:) I am a consultant for Lemongrass Spa products. Why? It makes sense for me and my family. I love the all natural and organic products and would buy them for my family even if I was not a consultant for them. I don't have to pay to sell the products. I have a very small minimum which I meet buying our family's products. I have a small downline. I do not push or talk about it unless people ask me, as you have on your blog. From time to time, it is nice to be able to have a spa party and enjoy fellowship with other women and be able to serve them as well. I will not allow it to consume me. I have lost too many friends because of pressure from them to jump on the business wagon with them...I will NEVER do that! Hope your business is doing well! I came to check your blog to find your online store's website:) Blessings, Hannah

Heather @ Not a DIY Life said...

Hi Emily! I clicked thru via Blogher and wanted to respond to your question. I am a Mary Kay consultant, and have been for 7 years. In MK, we are about selling a great product and providing excellent customer service. We do have "down lines," but I never twist someone's arm to join MK. If someone is interested, great. If not, great. No biggee. I am NOT the pushy type - I just love the product that I've been using for 15+ years.

Also, I generally only contact those people with whom I have a relationship, or specifically talked with (face to face) regarding trying MK products. I never cold call, as they are not productive! We have a try-before-you-buy policy, and a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

That said, there are women in MK that don't uphold to these standards, and bend the rules, and harass people. People are people, and you'll always have bad apples.

I hope this helps restore party-type home businesses in your mind. Have a great day!

Amber said...

The whole MLM thing drives me crazy! I can't stand it, and I hate to see people sucked into it. There were a lot of people who were doing various MLM schemes in the Mom's Club I used to be involved in, and there was always a party for something or other going on it seemed. It made me sad to hear of a woman announcing that she was "starting a business" only to find out that she was signing on to sell something for some company. What was worse where the people who just kept switching from one MLM to another, hoping to find the one that they could make work. I hate to think how much money they were wasting in this hopeless process.

I have never been sucked into such a thing, but I have had two people try to get me in. My first experience with it was in high school, when the parents of a friend tried to talk me into it (and how pathetic is that - going after your child's friends??) and another was in college, when I responded to a job ad for a secretary/admin position and instead had to listen to a MLM sales pitch. I was really mad about that one - what a waste of time, and extremely deceptive too.

Personally, I refuse to go to any MLM parties or buy from any MLM companies... although I do buy an occasional Usborne book. (*sigh* books, my one weakness!) However, I generally try to get them used or from Amazon. I think the sales practices of the MLM companies are really horrid and I just don't want to support that industry at all. I guess it can work as a small side thing (like with the previous commenter) but I don't think many people approach it in that fashion.

Angie said...

I've had that happen to me before, but it's better, since I used my business phone as my cell phone. And, quite frankly, I rarely will answer my cell phone unless I know who it is. (Otherwise, I let them just leave a message.) Personally, I could never just cold call people like that.

Laura said...

Hi, Emily - I'm also in the Mary Kay business. I don't need to say much since the info was already posted, but I really do like it because I've always used and loved MK products, and it really is as flexible as I want it to be...which is REALLY flexible right now :-) Usually my classes are with people I know from work or church or people who book classes from other classes...although I've really only done two classes since Lauren was born, and one of those was non-sales - a skin care and makeup info class with a Gems group (7-8th grade girls) at a friend's church.
As mentioned before, though, some people don't follow the rules. I searched google about Mary Kay - there are people who hate Mary Kay because of bad consultants (or because they expected tons of money while spending 0 time working), though I've never had this experience.