How NOT To Add New Recruits To Your Direct Sales Organization, Part One

Okay, this story was too juicy NOT to tell…

frustratedEarlier this week, I was approached via email to take a look at someone’s network marketing opportunity. I get dozens of these every month, and usually, I politely decline. But this was presented differently – and it ended up a painful, horrible experience for everyone. A great lesson in how NOT to try to recruit someone to your direct sales team.

First lesson: Don’t send the same ol’ generic “my opportunity is better than oxygen” pitch letter. ESPECIALLY if I don’t know you. Your first goal is to get me to open the email, not to join your organization.

This particular email began with an introduction from the executive assistant to a famous author (meaning, if I mentioned the name, you’d KNOW this person). Apparently, super-author was joining a direct selling company, and positioning themselves to grow a new organization fast. I was invited (because of my following, according to the email) to get in on the ground floor.

The most enticing part was that this author typically charged $35k+ for a speaking fee and they would waive it to come speak at my event.

So let’s do the math, for a paltry $30 enrollment fee, I could have big-shot author speak at my next event for nada?

Of COURSE I asked for more information.

Second Lesson: Have your poop in a group before you make contact with your prospect.  Because really, when you don’t have your poop in a group, you’re not presenting your opportunity, you’re BOTHERING people.

The most irritating part about this whole thing is that the original scheduling email was very apologetic: “I know this is short notice, but we are holding conference calls today…” and indicated that super-mega-author would be there.

An opportunity to speak to super-mega-author in real life? Outstanding! Where do I sign up?

After a slew of back-and forth emails to set up a time for the presentation, I was scheduled for a webinar later in the day. The assistant sent no less than 6 emails to coordinate what was supposed to be a 20 minute webinar. The logistics were further confounded when the assistant said they’d call me, but when I asked if they had my number, the assistant said to please email it, although we might be on a bridge line. I ended up being late for the webinar because I checked my email around 4:02 to find out why they didn’t call me. The assistant emailed an hour after my previous contact to give me the bridge line logistics. When I got to the webinar super-mega-author was nowhere to be found. No explanation, no apology (the first red flag of deception).

There’s more to this story, and I’ll share it next week, but I want to believe in my heart that super-mega-author person doesn’t have a clue what’s going on in their name by their team. So I’ve sent a message to said author to see how they respond.  In the mean time, here are my suggestions for how this could have gone better:

1. IF you legitimately represent a famous person connection, there’s nothing wrong with that – but you’d better be able to back it up with some kind of evidence. I know other billionaire types who have added a direct sales income stream to their portfolio because (as we all know) direct sales can be a very profitable income stream when done properly. And if you’ve got the leverage of a billion-dollar name behind you, it stands to reason you could grow a huge downline fast because people will want to hook up with your organization.

But this “executive assistant” – if they really were at all – did not professionally represent the author – and ultimately came across as a pushy, obnoxious jerk (really, I wanted to use a more inappropriate word here, but I try to be family friendly!). He didn’t have his facts straight, and apologizing for his screw ups because he’s been “really busy with all these appointments” is no excuse. I am busy, too. In fact, I took time OUT of my schedule to coordinate this short-notice crazy-pants endeavor in the first place. Plus, I know this author via social media, so it’s not like I couldn’t just send them a tweet or a private message on Facebook to clarify what’s going on (which I did).

2. When you are ready to make your contact, be polite AND brief. The assistant’s first email was perfect as an attention-getter and to draw out my interest to learn more. Everything fell apart after that. This is like dating, folks. You don’t have a couple of drinks, then slip a wedding ring on someone’s finger. You have to woo them! Leave them wanting a little, then you can guide them (without being pushy) into your business opportunity.

3. Listen for what they really want – and give them more of it. Essentially, for my $30 sign-up/kit fee, I could have super-mega-author come to my live event and speak. That, in and of itself makes the offer to join a direct selling company sexy. If the assistant had been paying attention to what I was saying in my emails and on the pitchinar webinar, they would have heard that, and played to that advantage. If you’re not listening to your prospects, someone else will. And guess who they’ll sign with?

What say you? Have you been approached horribly? Or maybe really well? Share your stories in the comments! I’ll share more next week!


  1. Janette Stoll

    Oh my gosh, Lisa! I LOVE this article and I’m nodding yes, yes, yes on just about everything you brought up. So annoying as I get similar emails (seems a lot more lately) and phone calls …c’mon. Thanks for putting this out there but the ones that need to see this is probably too busy spamming lol. ~Janette

  2. Lisa Robbin Young

    You’re right about that. In this case, it wasn’t so much a spammer as it was a horrible job of being pushy – to the extreme. I’ll reveal more in this week’s post.

  3. Patty

    This article speaks straight to me. I myself am involved in a direct selling company and getting people to understand that it is not about the sale it is about the relationship is so difficult. Your analogy of it is like dating is something I will personally try in my next training session with my team. Thanks for the great insight. I am off to read the second part right now!

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