Building Your MLM Business
Struggling with the details
of your new business?

Entrepreneur Magazine Online — Ask the MLM Expert

by Michael L. Sheffield
CEO The Sheffield Group


Question: I'm new to MLM but with a good company with a long history of success. I'm confused and a little overwhelmed by the complexities of the business. We have hundreds of products, catalogs of training tapes and videos, and a big Web site where my customers can order products. There seem to be a million ways to build a business. I don't know where to start. What do you suggest?

Answer: I doubt that we (or future generations) will ever again witness the revolutionary change in the Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) industry that has transpired over the past five years. Today, there are so many companies, so many products, so much information and so many opportunities worthy of our efforts. There has been an increasing number of successful and street-smart MLM distributors as our industry matures. But there are still huge numbers of distributors who struggle to make MLM work.

Many distributors feel overwhelmed by the details that surround the business. They have trouble understanding and managing the various sales tools, marketing systems and compensation plans. And with the technology-driven information and support systems thrust on them by progressive MLM companies, it's no wonder so many people become confused and disillusioned, and drop out way too soon. Since you're just getting started, here are a few words of advice:

You can't do it all or learn it all in a few weeks or even a few months. Think about this: We go to school for 12 years and college for four years to get a job that pays us $30,000 to $50,000 a year. But when we join MLM, if we aren't making $10,000 per month in short order, we're ready to quit. My evaluation of the most successful MLM distributors has shown me that they view growing their MLM business knowledge and earning that subsequent success as a lifelong process.

That doesn't mean that as a newcomer you can't be relatively successful right away. Same for an old hand at the game who is still trying to find the right formula to make it work. Keep in mind that a lot of the legwork has already been done by others. The problem for most people new to MLM is picking the right company with the right product and the right system that suits their personal style, interest and skills.

A great asset of working with a mature company is that many people have already taken the arrows in the back pioneering workable business-building concepts. That can also be a roadblock, however, if you aren't provided with a simple plan that directs you how to use this knowledge.

To start, pick out a product or two that you feel good about. Then select two to three proven sales methods from your training materials. Concentrate on these methods, avoiding the temptation to expand. In other words, "narrowcast" rather than "broadcast" your efforts. Do the same with your sponsoring methods: Pick two concepts you're comfortable with and focus on these.

Your objective should always be to keep the plan as simple as possible but no simpler. In other words, don't be underprepared, but don't also do too much. Take it one step at a time and measure your success one day at a time. Yes, you'll have peaks and valleys, but work consistently, staying committed to your goal, and you'll get there.

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About the Author:

Michael L. Sheffield is the CEO of The Sheffield Group, a full-service direct sales and multi level marketing (MLM) consulting firm. He is a Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Multi Level Marketing International Association and in 2001 he was inducted into the MLMIA Hall of Fame. He and the Sheffield team have assisted in hundreds of national and international MLM corporate start-ups as well as offered a full line of services for established direct sales companies including consultation on MLM Website development. As the most noted expert on compensation plans, he has been a guest lecturer on the subject for the DSA, University of Illinois, University of Texas, Berkeley and Harvard Alumni Association. He has helped launch over 200 new products marketed by direct selling companies around the globe. He can be contacted at 480-968-6199, The Sheffield Group, 2239 N. Hayden Road, Suite 103, Scottsdale, AZ. 85257, website address: www.sheffieldnet.com.

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