MLM Retention

What you have to do to retain your MLM downline

To make money in MLM means successfully doing just two things: recruiting people into your organization… and retaining them. And while recruiting is logical prior to retaining, retaining is, in the long run, by far the more important of the two. Thus, you’ve got to become — retention meister… and by following these ten steps you will be!

#1 in Successful Retention Precedes Recruitment.

The time to start successfully mastering retention is before you have even recruited the prospect you’re working on now. Most people recruiting into their MLM organizations find recruiting so difficult that they allow their common sense to fly out the window when they get close to any warm body prepared to sign a commitment form. It takes them so long to find the right prospects… much less close them… that when someone looks like he’s going to sign up, the recruiter makes no attempt to ascertain if this person is right for his organization. This is wrong, wrong, wrong!

Face it. You’re only going to make money in MLM if the people in your organization work. Indeed, you’re only going to make money if they have certain necessary prerequisites for MLM success. These prerequisites include:

Good sales skills. MLM, whether you want to believe it or not, is all about sales. You cancel it “network marketing” or any other grandiose term until the cows come home, but you cannot succeed in MLM unless you learn sales (particularly closing) skills… and all the people in your organization master them, too. This means checking out the sales skills of all the people you’re thinking of recruiting, including follow-up and closing skills.

Time and money. Whatever the cost of joining your MLM opportunity, this is far less than what it will actually cost you in time and money to make it successful. Does your recruit have the necessary resources? Or is this person attempting to make a killing in a month or two? If the recruit has few resources — but ridiculously high expectations — he’s a candidate for rapid burn-out and should be avoided.

The means for generating leads. All people in MLM need prospect leads. Either the recruit has them (because he runs a catalog, publication, has clients, other databases, run ads, etc.) or will do what’s necessary to get them (participate in co-op ad programs, run his own ads, etc.). The best people to have in your organization are those who already have leads and want to add the MLM opportunity to diversify their existing line or have the money and commitment to generate new leads and work them faithfully. If your recruit doesn’t fit in either of these categories, watch out!

The willingness to work both with you and with the people he recruits. All too often people in MLM complain they never hear from their upline sponsors, but if truth were known these same people are generally lousy at communicating with the people they bring in. Network marketing involves constant communication with people above you in the organization… and equally constant communication with those you yourself recruit. If your recruit says something like, “I’ll get in, but don’t expect me to talk to anyone…”, you can be sure this winner isn’t going to be with you very long.

#2 Make Sure Your New Recruit Has A Completely Replicatable Program

Imagine if you were told today that you had to sell radial tires, that you were going to get no help, that it was going to be sink or swim, good luck to you. You might well get a tad discouraged, feeling abandoned and frustrated. This identical scenario happens daily when new people are recruited into MLM organizations — but given the most meager help imaginable.

If you want to retain your people, you’ve got to provide them with all the materials they need. These materials include, but are not limited to:

  • Lead-generating materials, including ads, cover letters, post cards, etc.;
  • Lead-closing materials, including brochures, letters, follow-up letters, etc.
  • Downline retention materials, including phone scripts, answering machine messages, etc.

In short, YOU must think-through precisely what your recruits are going to need to succeed… and you must give it to them. What?, you say; this is something I didn’t bargain for. Why doesn’t the company do this? Why, indeed? I’ll never know why MLM companies are so inept as not to create and provide recruits completely replicatable programs, but such insight seems beyond these much self-praising pace-setters. Thus, if you want to retain people, you must provide these people with a program they need only read, study and implement — not conceptualize and create.

#3 Help Them Create An Objective And Date For Reaching It

People do better if they have an objective — and a date for reaching it. Your MLM recruits are no different. The problem with most MLM companies — including people running individual organizations within these companies — is that they are going no where. They have no precise objectives, instead inviting people to “make as much money as you want.” Now, as an old-time educator, I want to tell you something: people don’t do well with this much open-endedness. They need real objectives, real dates.

Now, you could argue that it’s up to each person to create his own objectives and if everyone in MLM — or any other business — were a precise self-starter that would be fine. But they aren’t. Thus, set the objectives for them, both in terms of what they should be striving for… and when they should achieve it.

To give you an example, for members of my Personal Wealth Systems, Inc. opportunity, I created what I call the “20-16- 10” plan. Under this plan if each person recruits 20 active workers and each of these recruits 16 active workers and each of these recruits just 10 active workers, the person originating this plan will be making just a tad under $75,000 a month. Not bad… and no one need ever recruit more than 20 active workers. Hence, manageable.

To this precise dollar objective, I add a time line: recruit your first 20 workers in no more than 45 days; work with these people to recruit the next group of 16 workers each within 45 days; work with these people to recruit the next group of 10 workers each within 45 more days. In other words within about 130 days — or just a shade over 4 months — your entire organization should be in place. This gives each recruit a structure, an objective and time-line which, of course, he can modify upwards or downwards as his individual circumstances warrant.

#4 Write Down Precise Steps Recruits Need To Take To Reach Objective And Get It To Them Immediately

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to set an objective and a date for reaching it. You’ve got to provide your recruits with precise steps for reaching it. These steps will include such crucial components as how to:

    Assess existing data bases for recruit prospects; Generate a lead-generating program; Connect with and close prospects, and how to effectively spend your limited time and money.

One reason why so many people drop out of MLM is because they don’t know the precise steps they need to take to reach their objectives. No one shares these steps with them… and they’re too lazy or stupid to get on the phone and demand them of their upline sponsors. You, however, must be different. Tell people in your organization precisely what they must do:

    … each day to generate leads;
    … each day to close leads;
    … each day to teach their downline;
    … each day to become more expert at the entire sales process that is the basis of MLM success.

If you won’t do this, you’re not going to keep the people you recruit… because they’re not going to enjoy much success from the great thrill of working with you.

#5 Follow Up Regularly

If you’re going to succeed in MLM, you’re going to have to master the skills of a national sales manager. This means becoming expert in connecting with your sales people, getting them to tell you what they’re doing… and working with them to improve their skills. For the first month, you should connect with each new recruit at least once a week. During these meetings (which can perfectly well be done on the phone), find out:

  • How the new recruit is doing
  • How his lead-generating program is coming along
  • How many calls he’s making
  • What’s happening in these calls
  • What his prospects are saying
  • How he’s responding to their points and objectives
  • Whether he’s learning to effectively close, etc.

In short, use these reports to find out how good your recruit is… and what you can do to improve matters.

Note: make it a condition of joining your organization that your MLM recruits call you at scheduled intervals. If they don’t call you, however, you call them — fast. And let them know that it’s unacceptable to miss these reporting calls. One thing for sure: if the recruit won’t report to you and makes contact difficult, you know he’s a dog, not long for your organization. Plan on replacing him.

#6 Make Sure All Recruits Understand The Benefits Of Your MLM Opportunity; Quiz Them To Be Sure

There’s a crazy notion prevalent in MLM circles that any one who gets recruited is someone knowledgeable about the program. This, however, is patently not true. Over the last several years I’ve been taking an informal survey of some of the thousands of MLM people who call me. I ask them, quite simply, to tell me in just a few sentences what benefits their opportunity offers. In virtually every case, they gag, sputter, and then just shut down. You see, they just don’t know. They’re willing to waste their time, money, credibility representing –WHAT?; they just don’t know. That’s why you’ve got to proceed with an entire different assumption. Assume the people in your organization are UN or ill-informed about the opportunity until proven otherwise.

Thus, when you have the chance, quiz your recruits to see if they really understand the benefits of belonging to the opportunity, for, you see, if they can’t render the benefits quickly and pungently to you — it’s most unlikely they’ll be able to do so to anyone else. Of course, you can help matters significantly by creating a document listing these benefits… and polishing them until they are truly motivating. Either way, don’t assume your recruits know the benefits… quiz them and make sure.

#7 Ensure Recruits Have Lead-Generating Means

For some reason that continues to escape me, many people upon joining an MLM company have a noticeable drop in intelligence. Many, indeed, become like the baby sparrows that now raucously live in the air vents near the top of my building. All day long they sit and do nothing, only seeming to come alive when the harassed parents come flying in laden with worms, grubs and other delicacies. then the fledglings scream to their utmost capacity, seeking to get the lion’s share. So, it is with too many MLM recruits who do nothing for themselves… but shout at their uplines for leads, leads, leads.

Leads, dear reader, begin at home. All people have databases. These consist of social, personal, fraternal, political, religious, business and other networks they belong to. Find out just what networks your would-be recruit has… and what he intends to do to mine them. If he won’t, then you’ve got a problem. One of the distinguishing factors among MLM-ers is their unwillingness to tap the networks they have… and their insane belief that success comes only from recruiting total strangers. Nonsense.

First, you must help your recruits work through the networks they already have available, no matter how small. Then, you must work with the recruit to generate the additional leads he’ll need. This includes assisting him to:

  • Place solo ads
  • Assemble co-ops where ad responses get divided
  • Locate other lead sources, and /li>
  • Generally understanding his need for ongoing leads and assisting him to get them.

If you want your recruits to be successful, you cannot simply leave the matter of getting leads to them. True, those knowledgeable about sales and marketing may be able to solve the problem themselves, but those without either significant databases of their own or sales experience will need you to assist them. Do so, or they’ll be out of your organization — cursing you — fast.

#8 Help Your Recruits Learn To Close

No one is going to be a success in your organization (and therefore stay in it) who cannot close prospects. Closing, therefore, constitutes one place where you must spend some quality time with your recruits. What it takes to become a master closer is, of course, a topic that has fascinated all good sales people ever since there were sales people; book after book has been written on this topic. However, here are a few ‘tricks of the trade’ to help you out:

    Ask the prospect at the beginning of the conversation if he’s ready to sign up now. If not, ask why not. This is the beginning of isolating the objections.

    Once the objectives have been isolated, answer them.

    Unless the person is either entirely impoverished or likely to die in the next half hour, once you’ve made the decision that he’s a prospect, proceed accordingly — which means demolishing his objectives.

    Don’t take no for an answer. Persist. People know that I may not be the most charming person in the western world, but I am one of the most persistent… and this persistence has enabled me to build up a lucrative MLM business in record time. Take note!

Inability to close constitutes one of the major reasons why recruits drop out of MLM. It’s worth your while to keep instructing your downline on how to improve their skills so this doesn’t hamper your success.

#9 Make Sure Recruits Understand How To Use You And The Company’s Technical Assistance

Adults like to think they know everything; they’re shy about asking for assistance, especially for assistance about something they think they’re supposed to know. Instead of asking, therefore, improving themselves, they get rooted in failure and drop out. Stupid — but there it is.

Personally, I start from the assumption that everyone is stupid until proven otherwise. Thus, I have no problem whatsoever pounding it into my recruits’ heads just what I can and will do for them… and just what the company can and will do. I let them know that not asking for the help that’s available is just plain dumb.. and that the really smart (and therefore ultimately successful) people quickly become adept at taking advantage of all the tools at their command.

For instance, I am constantly asked small technical points about the Personal Wealth Systems opportunity I represent; these points usually pertain to an aspect of the actual services provided by the country. A woman, for example, just asked me if she could get the groceries delivered to her small town in North Dakota. I didn’t have a clue… but I did know how to solve the problem: putting her in touch with the executive vice president at company headquarters. Nor was this done by chance: I told this fellow that I’d concentrate on marketing problems… if he’d work my recruits on such technical matters. He agreed… and now we have a system that enables each of us to concentrate on our areas of strength. Now the kicker: until I made such an arrangement with the fellow, no one had ever asked him to act as their back-up in this fashion. However, by doing so my prospects got definitive information quickly; I got to keep working on what I do best… and I also gained a crucial member of my own success team who now spends a good portion of each day providing the kind of information that gets people to sign into my organization quicker.

#10 Make Sure The Recruit Will Work With His/Her Recruits

The absurd notion has gained ground in the network marketing industry that you can sign up people with an MLM opportunity, do nothing, and make big bucks that you need not really understand the opportunity, much less work the opportunity including working with the people you recruit. This is, of course, ridiculous. If you are going to be a success in MLM, the people you recruit must work with those they recruit.

To this end, find out before you recruit anyone if he’ll spend the necessary time to implement with his recruits the points here presented. Will he talk to them… work with them… wheedle, cajole, push and prod them? If not, his own success is unlikely… and so is yours. In MLM, you see, it’s not enough to be able to recruit lots of people yourself… you must make sure the people you recruit will do what’s necessary to work with their recruits and retain them. (Note: before recruiting anyone, it would be an excellent thing to have this person read this article. Then ask if he’s willing to do the things in it to help build and retain his organization. If not, there’s no point in going ahead with this poor critter.)


As this report should make clear to you, you don’t want all the people in your organization who initially say they want in. Instead, you need to assess them… just as they are assessing both you and the opportunity itself. True, this assessment process will slow down your recruitment; as a result, your organization will grow more slowly. But make no mistake about this: it will grow more surely. The kinds of people you recruit will be stronger, better candidates, willing to work with both you and the people they recruit to build a money-making organization. And they’ll stay with you longer, working out the kinks that all organizations have… and doing what’s necessary to ensure not only their own success — but yours. Which is just what you want!”

(The content of this article is extracted from ServiceQuest® RetentionSmarts™ Modules. For more information on RetentionSmarts™ training and mentoring systems, contact a member of the LaunchSmart team.)

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