Because of the nature of recruitment and the dream of living the life of riches, it is no stretch to the imagination that sometimes, the real picture gets blurred between the lines. Also, MLM is notoriously known for getting you on the bad books of friends and family. This is of course a general stereotype against the industry and not a concrete consequence.
MLMs are designed to make profit for the owners/shareholders of the company, and a few individual participants at the top levels of the MLM pyramid of participants. According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), some MLM companies already constitute illegal pyramid schemes even by the narrower existing legislation, exploiting members of the organization.[21] There have been calls in various countries to broaden existing anti-pyramid scheme legislation to include MLMs, or to enact specific anti-MLM legislation to make all MLMs illegal in parallel to pyramid schemes, as has already been done in some jurisdictions.[citation needed]
Thanks Ray for this info about the lead company. Some time ago I purchased Todd’s script book and purchased a large group of leads from another company. After over 400 calls I realized that the company had sold my ‘exclusive’ leads, muliple times. Did I consider it a waste of time and money? No, it was a very good training opportunity for me. Most people have a job and work and can’t take time off to get a ‘telemarketer’ job. But they can get a script book and get a group of inexpensive leads and use it as a form of training on the phone. After a large no. of calls the phone can become a familiar and usable tool.
Multi-level marketing (simplified Chinese: 传销; traditional Chinese: 傳銷; pinyin: chuán xiāo) was first introduced to China by American, Taiwanese, and Japanese companies following the Chinese economic reform of 1978. This rise in multi-level marketing's popularity coincided with economic uncertainty and a new shift towards individual consumerism. Multi-level marketing was banned on the mainland by the government in 1998, citing social, economic, and taxation issues.[62] Further regulation "Prohibition of Chuanxiao" (where MLM is a type of Chuanxiao was enacted in 2005, clause 3 of Chapter 2 of the regulation states having downlines is illegal.[11] O'Regan wrote 'With this regulation China makes clear that while Direct Sales is permitted in the mainland, Multi-Level Marketing is not'.[10]
Even truthful testimonials from the very small minority of participants who do earn career-level income or more will likely be misleading unless the advertising or presentation also makes clear the amount earned or lost by most participants. (For more information on this topic, see the FTC’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.)
I appreciate this comment. I’m a doTERRA gal. When I signed up I said I’d never sell. I just wanted to buy and use the oils. Then because of my love for them, people started coming to me for education and asking where they could get oils. So now I sell them. I’m not a sales person. I can’t bug my friends about stuff. But I’m growing this business because I truly believe in the products and use them every single day. I may not ever become rich from this and that’s OK with me. I won’t consider it a failure. Every person I help is a success in my book!
A downline distributor is a recruited distributor from whom the sponsor (the one who recruited them) gains commissions. Every compensation plan involves recruiting other distributors to help sell the company’s product. Some compensation plans provide higher commissions for recruiting successful distributors (quality over quantity). Other plans only focus on simply hiring more distributors (quantity over quality). Overall, downline distributors help sponsors gain extra commissions. 

If 18,000,000 Americans consider MLM their careers, yet only 0.3% actually succeed beyond average corporate America wages, do people realize that means there are barely more than 50,000 Americans “living the MLM dream” and almost 17,950,000 who just help the 50,000? Sad. I was part of team Tupperware decades ago because I wanted to buy Tupperware for my home for less. It took me about 14 months as a stay at home mother (never recruited, never pressured, my distributor didn’t like my attitude) to accomplish that task and then walked away. I live in rural America where so many fall to MLMs attempting to climb out of paycheck to paycheck living (very few good jobs) like the saved into a baptismal pool. “Disciples” is the perfect word. MLMs are just not thriving here. How many Americans can one recruit/sell to for building a business in a rural county with less than 20,000 other Americans of which 75% live below the poverty line? I see MLM victims everywhere. 

I love love love this article! I’m a business growth coach who works with small business owners and often leaders from other MLM’s. From time to time I’ll get someone who has been struggling significantly even getting started and I find that it’s sheer absence of knowledge of the numbers. They are still under the impression that if I get three, and they get three then we’re all going to be millionaires. It’s very sad but the truth is not being told. Being in an MLM is hard. But it is very doable. I have had significant success in the past, while I am not in an MLM now. Nor do I want to be, you must be all In to make it work. Thank you for sharing this. I would love to interview you on one of my webinars
Growing a MLM, is recruiting others who you hope to help find success growing their own business within your organization. However, the reason many do not grow their organization is because they are not comfortable following suit of their up-line. I would never ever pay for mlm leads for a few reasons. One, I am not comfortable cold calling, selling, pitching, begging, prospecting, therefore, I would be insane to think those in my downline would be. I would never do what I would not think that my downline could do, and asking them to put themselves into so much fear and discomfort, would make me untrustworthy. I totally agree with Sukhi’s post, MLM’s are based on trust. If you want to talk to people, talk to them, build a relationship, network with others.
Thanks Ray for this info about the lead company. Some time ago I purchased Todd’s script book and purchased a large group of leads from another company. After over 400 calls I realized that the company had sold my ‘exclusive’ leads, muliple times. Did I consider it a waste of time and money? No, it was a very good training opportunity for me. Most people have a job and work and can’t take time off to get a ‘telemarketer’ job. But they can get a script book and get a group of inexpensive leads and use it as a form of training on the phone. After a large no. of calls the phone can become a familiar and usable tool.
Use social media. Posts asking people to join your team won't likely produce results, but if you're clever, you can use social media to generate interest in your business and possible leads. For example, if you sell weight-loss products, you can promote before and after pictures on Pinterest or Instagram. If you sell makeup, you can post tutorials on YouTube that you share across social sites. 
We strive to verify all of our data and to also ensure your best experience we also offer this lead Replacement policy. If you receive a Disconnected, wrong number or bad email address, we will replace them. Simply complete a support ticket with the leads in question and we will add fresh business opportunity leads to your account. No Questions Asked.. WE Stand Behind Our LEADS!
Lead generation is important for your business to grow; as a business owner, you however need to know how effective these leads will be for your business. This can be measured in terms of returns on investment and how fast it will be.  The MLM Company should be able to give you an estimate on when they can generate these leads and instigate them for action, and when you should be able to see results.
The main sales pitch of MLM companies to their participants and prospective participants is not the MLM company's products or services. The products/services are largely peripheral to the MLM model. Rather, the true sales pitch and emphasis is on a confidence given to participants of potential financial independence through participation in the MLM, luring with phrases like "the lifestyle you deserve" or "independent distributor."[16] Erik German's memoir My Father's Dream documents the real life failures of German's father as he is lured into "get-rich-quick" schemes such as Amway.[17] The memoir illustrates the multi-level marketing sales principle known as "selling the dream".[18]
I would like to try the instagram. I have been in this business since January 5 and not doing very well. Took me a month just to get my children to join & this company is actually giving out shares as you join. Like I said, it took me a month just to get my children to understand the concept of the shares, after sharing the video of Magic Johnson being interviewed by Ellen Degenerate about his reqret for turning down Nike tennis shoes, with one of the owners of Nike being one of the owners of this company & how this is time sensitive, but no one else is interested. Please help.
Kay, you don’t need a lot of money to buy essential oils, NOT AT ALL! Specifically now that distillers will sell directly to small businesses with very minimum amount, your $100 will buy you a lot actually. Averagely, your cost with MLM in a single bottle will be around 25x-30x more. So it is not the cost; but the business set-up (packaging, presentation, etc.).
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First, Elliot, thank you for this article. Your sense of truly wanting to help comes through and it’s refreshing. Like MommyFinance, I too have suffered PTSD from previous runs at MLM but I have been looking for legitimate ways of making extra income and seems I’m being directed toward trying MLM again. Your article gave me hope that there are some good ones out there. What you said about finding the one that fits me and leaving a legacy for family really turned on a light for me and I greatly appreciate that. A wine business is not quite up my alley but I will certainly direct those who might be interested your way.
The Direct Selling Association (DSA), a lobbying group for the MLM industry, reported that in 1990 only 25% of DSA members used the MLM business model. By 1999, this had grown to 77.3%.[26] By 2009, 94.2% of DSA members were using MLM, accounting for 99.6% of sellers, and 97.1% of sales.[27] Companies such as Avon, Electrolux, Tupperware,[28] and Kirby were all originally single-level marketing companies, using that traditional and uncontroversial direct selling business model (distinct from MLM) to sell their goods. However, they later introduced multi-level compensation plans, becoming MLMs.[23] The DSA has approximately 200 members[29] while it is estimated there are over 1,000 firms using multi-level marketing in the United States alone.[30]
I found your article interesting. My wife and I have been involved with AdvoCare since November 2011. Even if I never make another dime in AdvoCare, I will continue to use the products because they have worked and continue to work for us. What I find interesting is the statistic that the majority – 99.7% in MLM actually “lose” money. What is the context of that statistic? That would mean A: the majority of MLM companies don’t have a buyback or return policy B: people that get started with MLM’s have to take on much more inventory that they are able to sell or C: this statistic is not accurate. I believe that C is the right answer. I do agree there are flaws in the MLM industry just as there are flaws in every industry. However, I believe that the MLM industry has made huge improvements in recent years and we do have a better way. People are the variable. When you have a great product, a passion and purpose that drives you everyday, are teachable and coachable, and love others as much as you love yourself, you can be successful in this business. Through the process of investing in your own personal development and learning to serve others, you are able to lead others to do the same. Thanks again. I look forward to reading more from you in the near future.
Ben Thataway, a CEO benefits forever off of his employees and the employees can spend a lifetime and never make the kind of money they can make in network marketing. I know someone personally that beat out 80,000 representatives, did not join the company untli 3 years after it launched and became the top income earner. What you’ve heard, or what you think you know about network marketing is false.
MLM salespeople are, therefore, expected to sell products directly to end-user retail consumers by means of relationship referrals and word of mouth marketing, but most importantly they are incentivized to recruit others to join the company's distribution chain as fellow salespeople so that these can become down line distributors.[3][6][7] According to a report that studied the business models of 350 MLMs, published on the Federal Trade Commission's website, at least 99% of people who join MLM companies lose money.[8][9] Nonetheless, MLMs function because downline participants are encouraged to hold onto the belief that they can achieve large returns, while the statistical improbability of this is de-emphasised. MLMs have been made illegal or otherwise strictly regulated in some jurisdictions as a mere variation of the traditional pyramid scheme, including in mainland China.[10][11]
As many have mentioned, MLM is an acronym for the word “Multi-Level Marketing.” It is basically a marketing system where a certain product or an opportunity is passed on from person to person to get it viral resulting to lesser expenses on advertising on the part of the company or the owner. The beauty of MLM is that it creates a tremendous opportunity for everyone to make money.
Hiring an expert is the way to go if you want to do this fast and effectively. In the long run, new clients are worth more than what you have to pay to get help finding them. You’ll make far more money on one turned lead than you will spend on getting someone to help you get that lead. If that’s not the case for you, however, then things may need to change a little. You’ll want to go do some looking at reviews for various lead generation companies to see what they can help you with and if they are worth your time to work with.

I have been looking over your sites and viewing the many videos. It sounds appealing however there are many many . . . many lead generators out there, some that are well established (and very good at what they do) and so my question is why would I pay you to train me for 5 weeks and think I could compete (let alone generate income) in the short period you mention?
Bought MLM leads are still not going to be laydown sales, you WILL still need to talk to them, qualify them and move them along in the process. When  you receive the email that you have a new lead in, call them and ask them how you can help, if they are nasty or negative, just get off the phone. Never, whether you bought the lead or not, try to convert someone who is nasty or negative, it just is not worth your time.
Thanks for this list. Loved seeing Monat as #1! I am a Market Partner for this company and the money is crazy good because the products are awesome. I was disappointed to see Plexus at #28 and I wasn’t impressed by what you had to say about them. Plexus is NOT a weight loss company. Their products promote a healthy gut and they are clinically proven to decrease inflammation and balance blood sugar. Weight loss is a natural side effect of body balance. The products work and there are a lot of people I know personally making good money with Plexus.
I would like to try the instagram. I have been in this business since January 5 and not doing very well. Took me a month just to get my children to join & this company is actually giving out shares as you join. Like I said, it took me a month just to get my children to understand the concept of the shares, after sharing the video of Magic Johnson being interviewed by Ellen Degenerate about his reqret for turning down Nike tennis shoes, with one of the owners of Nike being one of the owners of this company & how this is time sensitive, but no one else is interested. Please help.
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Perfect reply That’s exactly what gives network marketing a bad name. Sheesh. If you find something you’re passionate about then go for it. But first ask, how many people can you personally find who have replaced their income at such n such a company? I’m grateful to say I have hundreds of dōTERRA advocates who have, and who go about it with integrity. Thanks for all the research, it was fun to read. I’d recommend looking at retention as well sometime.
There is no single method for creating and retaining such documentation. Different MLMs employ a variety of approaches to demonstrate that their product is sold to retail customers, including collecting retail sales receipts created by participants; having retail customers buy product directly from the company, rather than from a participant’s inventory; and having product users sign up with the company as customers who are not participating in a business opportunity. Other MLMs use other approaches or a combination of approaches.
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A long time friend that you lost touch with for the last 10 years gives you a call and asks to meet up. After meeting up and breaking the ice, he/she then introduces a new revolutionary product and how you stand to get rich by selling it. Throw in jargons like passive income and downlines, you suddenly realise you’re beginning to be sucked into the dream they are selling.
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Ben Thataway, a CEO benefits forever off of his employees and the employees can spend a lifetime and never make the kind of money they can make in network marketing. I know someone personally that beat out 80,000 representatives, did not join the company untli 3 years after it launched and became the top income earner. What you’ve heard, or what you think you know about network marketing is false.

Great job on the top 25 MLMs. Really like what you’re doing for the industry as a whole. Your analysis is spot on. However, a closer look at retention rates for each company might give you another perspective on the value proposition of any given company. As a Doterra Wellness Advocate we are told by our corporate execs that we have a 65% retention rate with customers repurchasing the product within 3 months. And that if we based it on the industry standard of 12 months our retention would go up to 85%. I’m told that this is unprecedented in network marketing. So I’m believing that Doterra is succeeding because its selling a product that works and that users and word-of-mouth drive the business in the long run.
Once you’ve built a small team through these methods, you will have increased your income enough to be able to reinvest in buying leads and you will also have built up confidence in speaking to people, meaning that your bought leads are more likely to sign up. You can tell these leads about how you’ve got a nice little team earning you a nice income. Hence, these bought leads are now better value. 

Appreciate the hard work studying this… Im apart of the #1 company on there Advocare… have been for 7 years and one of the higher paid single guys in the nation… I just have to disagree with “over priced Products” comment. There is a mark up on every product in the world… Our products actually work which is why those endorsers you mentioned turn down high level incomes with other companies to endorse us for a stipend of products per month. Advocare has numerous people making a great profit and even more just enjoying a product they would pay double what they do for to feel the way they do. Success rate isnt low my friend… Its just the quit rate is through the roof. Highly recommend everyone seeing this and you sir to watch “Rise of the Entrepreneur” by Eric Worre on Itunes to get some serious facts about the MLM industry. Thanks for all the research and blessings!
Not only are “home businesses” or “MLM’s” very interesting, they are successful. Many of the longest standing organizations in this country have this business model. MLM is a marketing strategy in which the sales force is compensated not only for sales they personally generate, but also for the sales of others they recruit, creating a downline of distributors and a hierarchy of multiple levels of compensation. Most commonly, the salespeople are expected to sell products directly to consumers by means of relationship referrals and word of mouth marketing. Sounds legit right – so why the bad press?
The most widely-cited description of an unlawful MLM structure appears in the FTC’s Koscot decision, which observed that such enterprises are “characterized by the payment by participants of money to the company in return for which they receive (1) the right to sell a product and (2) the right to receive in return for recruiting other participants into the program rewards which are unrelated to the sale of the product to ultimate users.” In re Koscot Interplanetary, Inc., 86 F.T.C. 1106, 1181 (1975).1
Once you’ve built a small team through these methods, you will have increased your income enough to be able to reinvest in buying leads and you will also have built up confidence in speaking to people, meaning that your bought leads are more likely to sign up. You can tell these leads about how you’ve got a nice little team earning you a nice income. Hence, these bought leads are now better value.
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Using link referral sites is another great way to generate free MLM leads. Link referral sites are basically a database of websites and blogs grouped in categories. After creating an account the network marketer will be asked to review up to 15 other websites and write a review of each on a daily basis. This is a great way to make new friends and expand the network of referrals.
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I know there are a few companies, like Mary Kay and Lia Sophia, who have a generally positive image, but there are many more, often built around some investment scheme, which continue to give this sector a bad image. If you scan the Internet, you will find dozens of negative articles, like "What's Wrong With Multi-Level Marketing?", but very few singing their praises.
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