It’s hard to imagine there was once a time when people would travel door-to-door to sell vacuum cleaners or life insurance to complete strangers. Today’s marketers can reach an audience of close, personal contacts and make a profit from the comfort of their own home. They can simply post information and sell online with (what has always been known as) “network marketing.”
In a digital world, I prefer the non-gratuitous term “social selling.”
Network marketing is often confused with a pyramid scheme in which participants are required to recruit others. However, that never was (nor should be) an individual’s sole focus. The business is about selling products. About meeting needs and helping people.
Currently, there are about 60 million people pursuing network marketing opportunities. It’s no wonder why. Network marketing provides flexible schedules, helps you avoid cold calling, and can turn into a highly lucrative career.
Understanding more about this line of work and knowing the right questions to ask can help you determine if it would work for you, and if it’s worth the trouble of giving it a shot.
How does network marketing work?
As the name suggests, network marketing is the process of selling products to your own contacts. A company will contract with independent business owners (often called IBOs). IBOs will receive training about the products and their benefits. Upon completion, IBOs will either purchase the products for a small fee, or the company will gift them for free. The recruits then have to sell these items to their network to earn a commission for each sale.
Quick side note: this is how many direct sales companies operate. It is NOT how Vector operates. Our representatives (we don’t call them IBOs) do not carry inventory. They do not resell any of our products. And while they typically feel most comfortable beginning presentations with their network? Our referral system allows them to network with people all over the nation, build a relationship, and be selective about whom they work with.
They accomplish this, in many cases, 100% virtual. End side note – back to network marketing.
As a traditional IBO, you have options to increase your profit scale. The more sales you make, the more income you earn on any future sales. It’s like getting a raise. And in many companies (not Vector Marketing), you can recruit people to work under you and make a commission off of their sales as well.
The key to success is to choose a company that offers real value and has proven success in generating sales and earning profits.
So, does network marketing work? Not for everybody. But it’s impossible to argue with the success of global companies like Mary Kay, Tupperware, and Doterra. These companies make billions of dollars each year using the social selling business model.
But any organization selling products is only as strong as its representatives. IBO success is up to each individual and the amount of work they’re willing to put into their opportunity.
4 questions to determine if network marketing works for you
Social selling can be a lucrative opportunity for the right person. Here are five questions to ask yourself to determine whether network marketing is something you should start—or whether you should seek side gig income elsewhere.
1. Who are the higher-ups?
People are attracted to network marketing because they can begin earning money right away without a big investment of capital. However, it is not a get-rich-quick scheme.
It’s important to find out about the people working above you as these will be the individuals who guide and coach you on your journey. Are they successful? Do they align with your morals? Would you feel comfortable going to them and sharing your struggles when you’re new?
Not all mentors and coaches are created equal.
When someone follows the system that’s in place, the odds of success are exponentially higher. Confirm that your leaders are as successful as you want to be. And that their methods are something you feel comfortable with. If so, learn from them, follow their lead, and set out to make your own profits.
2. What are you selling?
When pitching products to your personal contacts, your reputation is on the line. Be sure you’re selling products that you believe in, and that bring value to people who trust you. It’s also helpful to sell types of products that are sought-after in other distribution channels. This is beneficial for three reasons.
First, if your product is part of a competitive market, that means there’s interest. And you won’t have to go inventing narratives and—at worst—telling lies.
Second, if someone wants to buy a product they see on Amazon, but they can buy a superior version of it from you—perhaps with a lifetime guarantee, better quality, or unique attributes—then you’re more likely to close the sale.
Often times products in the social selling space cost more than their cheaper alternatives. But the old saying holds true: you get what you pay for.
Lastly, the more demand there is for your products, the sooner you’ll start earning income.
Whatever products you sell, be sure your organization provides comprehensive, ongoing training to make sure you have all the tools you need to sell most effectively. And honestly.
3. How can you promote your products?
To avoid mark-ups that cut into profit margins, network marketing organizations don’t invest in advertising. As an IBO, you’re responsible for marketing and promoting yourself and your products.
Once the immediate group of family and friends runs out, how will you meet new prospects?
Learn about your organization’s promotion policies. Discover what freedoms and restrictions you may face when it comes to spreading the word about your products. Some companies give IBOs free rein while others provide approved corporate messaging to abide by when selling.
Consider social media posts, scripting for phone calls, and email templates. Determining how you can or can’t promote yourself will reveal how challenging it might be to sell your products and earn your commissions.
If you learn about the company’s methods and think “I would feel comfortable doing that,” then move forward with confidence.
4. What’s your motivation?
The old saying of “Start With Why” isn’t just good advice for big businesses. But for social sellers as well.
If your goal is to become a multi-millionaire, network marketing may not be for you. While it can be highly lucrative, it all comes down to how much you believe in your product and how comfortable you feel making connections with your contacts.
If you’re driven, have a solid sales plan, and work hard following your organization’s system, you can certainly make a profit. At the very least, you can earn supplemental income, build skills, and enjoy a job that allows you to work remotely on a flexible schedule.
Enjoy a profitable side gig opportunity
With the prevalence of social media and internet platforms, it’s never been easier to connect with your contacts. Yes, network marketing works. And it is a popular option for people who want to work remotely and earn supplemental income without having to call on strangers.
To learn more about whether we’re the right network marketing opportunity for you, contact us today!