Multi-level marketing, abbreviated as MLM, also called pyramid selling, network marketing and referral marketing, is a controversial marketing strategy for the sale of products and/or services where the revenue of the MLM company is derived from a non-salaried workforce (also called participants, and variously known as “salespeople”, “distributors”, “consultants”, “promoters”, “independent business owners”, etc) selling the company’s products/services, while the earnings of the participants is derived from a pyramid-shaped commission system.
Recruitment is an integral part of any MLM, but it doesn’t need to be the focus. Whenever MLMs charge high startup fees, require high recruitment for a commission, do not provide sales training, or otherwise value recruitment over product, that’s a clue that it is not a good MLM to join. Network marketing companies should rely on networks to sell products, instead of only recruiting your network.
As the owner, you are the face and voice of the product whether you like it or not. Expect to spend an inordinate of your time managing people, their emotions and expectations. The heavy reliance on residual income means that your income stream may dry up suddenly if a salesperson fails to meet his quota. This could easily happen, because in many cases that salesperson must not only be accountable for his sales, but of the sale people he recruits under him. These are people he may not know. Therefore, your earnings potential is limited by the selling ability of others not directly under your control. A MLM business may strain your personal relationships. Lower-tiered salespeople, particularly those within your circle of family and friends, may harbor ill feelings if they fail to advance within the organization.
MLM, also referred to as direct selling or network marketing, uses a different approach to sell products and services. MLM is different from single-level marketing, where a salesperson earns a commission for selling directly to the consumer. As a MLM operator, you must create you own sales distribution channel. MLM businesses resemble that of a pyramid structure, where you as the top salesperson earns a profit from all sales generated under the sales distribution line that you create. This income is referred to as "residual" income, and is the greatest source of income to your company.
If you have decided that your current methods of lead generation aren’t providing you with the results that you need for optimal success with your business, why not consider trying out FII-Inc and discovering what our services can offer towards the lead generation for your business? Already trusted and acclaimed by many clients, our services have helped to fill in the gaps in service that many small businesses and new business owners simply aren’t able to provide on their own. At Fll-Inc, we understand that lead generation can be a large and demanding responsibility – which is why we take care of it for you. 

I don’t care where doTERRA in ranked. The oils are good, but the company SUCKS. It is all built on big bloggers. Don’t have a big blog – you’re going to make pennies while others demand you make a minimum $100 a month order. The company itself has great customer service, but try to reach compliance or tell them that your uplines are making fake accounts or ordering off multiple people in the downline just to ensure they make bonuses and NO ONE listens. It’s supposedly geared to help the underdog succeed – this is a gimmick.
Who wants to get fit, look younger, and lose weight? Jeunesse, meet your global target market: everyone. With their crazy sales numbers, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are selling to just about everyone in the world. Jeunesse routinely make the list for the top 20 MLMs in the world, and they’re doing about $1.4 billion in annual revenue. Not only are you selling a very well-trusted product, but the sign up cost is also one of the lowest out there ($30).

Our MLM Autoresponder Leads are fresh & responsive, and they have specifically stated that they are seeking information on starting an internet home-based business. They are high quality leads from 100% Opt-in sources, and are never generated through email or spam marketing. We guarantee that you will be the exclusive holder of the Leads for your primary Opportunity, never re-selling the same lead to anyone else who is promoting the same MLM or Network Marketing business. We also guarantee that we will not sell the leads more than 2 times total.


Prequalified prospects, sales referrals, or genealogy lists, whatever name is used, MLM leads are the lifeblood of any MLM (multi-level marketing) business, and without a continuous supply, the network marketing distributor will go broke and have to close down their MLM business. The question most networkers ask is “where do I get the best possible MLM leads for little or no money?” Are they generated on the internet, bought from an MLM lead-generation company, worked in the local market or found among friends and family? The answer is easier than it may seem; all of the above.


Whiners complain about what they don’t have and don’t know. Winners figure out how to get what they don’t have and learn what they don’t know. Because of the low cost of entry of network marketing, there is a plethora of people that would fall into the whiners category. Fortunately, no whiners read my blog as they think I am yelling at them so congrats on being a winner!
With its anti-wrinkle cream and other products, Jeunesse promises to reverse the signs of aging, if temporarily. Jeunesse also sells products to reduce mental distraction, provide nutrition on the go, and help people lose weight. The company’s impressive live demos and message of remaining forever young have placed them on Inc.’s list of fastest-growing American companies.
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.
The FTC’s case against BurnLounge provides an example. BurnLounge argued that its participants bought product packages consisting of sales websites and music-related merchandise because they wanted to use the merchandise. When BurnLounge’s product packages were untied from the business opportunity, however, monthly sales of these packages plummeted by almost 98 percent. At most, actual demand was responsible for only a small minority of package sales, and BurnLounge was found to have an unfair or deceptive compensation structure. 
4. Cassette tape or video sponsoring. If your company has an exciting cost-effective product cassette tape, it can be used in place of or in addition to a brochure. These are automatic merchandisers that stimulate people to action. While opportunity tapes are important, most successful recruiters lead with a good product tape. Once people appreciate your product offering, they're more open to the business opportunity.
On the part of the company who sells a certain product via MLM, the advantage is really huge. Imagine if you have an unknown product that came from the wilderness and nobody has really ever heard. Since you are an MLM type of guy, you made a simple conversation with a few of your neighbors and relatives and let them know about your newly discovered product.
Once you are ready to buy leads, understanding which lead product is best for you is the next step. Are you interested in calling leads when their interest is at their highest? Then you will want to purchase Real time leads. Are you just getting started and want to get a lot of practice and build your list with a lesser investment? Then, the discounted, aged leads may be better. Test them out and see what works best for you.
Thanks for this post. Very helpful. I do like direct sales; one reason for this is that it helps keep alive that age-old tradition of people interacting face-to-face (rather than mainly through texting and social media). For that reason, I think MLMs should target the lonely Millennials. Anyway, I was a member/distributor of Advocare for over 10 years and still miss the products and the activities in the company, now that I am temporarily out. I still plan to sign up again when I can afford it (long story–I’ll spare you). I am now involved in Melaleuca, and I must say in their defense that Melaleuca’s products are actually not overpriced. Because Preferred Customers are not only not expected, but also NOT ALLOWED to turn around and sell the products at the retail price, everyone pays the same low prices. (Granted, one can indeed go to the website and buy directly from the company if they do not want to become a Preferred Customer. Why would someone do that when the annual membership is only $19? Only if they do not want to commit to the minimum monthly requirement for Preferred Customers.) Public, keep this in mind! Don’t be fooled by the rebels who are selling old Melaleuca products on Amazon for way above the retail price!! You’re much better off buying fresh products directly from the factory, even if you pay retail price. Just sayin. My big question: What about Tupperware? I have been a Tupperware consultant for about 6 months, and I have found it to be extremely difficult to keep business going. The directors training me have said that Tupperware is the second most widely recognized brand name in the world, second only to Coca-Cola. If that is the case, why is it so hard to find people willing to host Tupperware parties? Why does it seem so hard to sell? Also, is it just me…Or, does Tupperware’s compensation plan stink?
Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Sulaiman Rahman, @sulrah. Sulaiman is the founder of UrbanPhilly.com, or UPPN – Urban Philly Professional Network. He was also an African-American Chamber of Commerce Chair. Sulaiman is a Philadelphia native and Penn graduate. He is also currently a Creative Ambassador for philly360 and long-time entrepreneur.
As in many other areas, the FTC periodically meets with consumer groups, industry representatives, and other stakeholders to learn more about evolving practices and concerns. Also, the FTC has issued and updates consumer and business educational materials. In addition, the FTC’s Bureau of Economics has devoted and continues to devote its research expertise to issues relating to direct sales and multi-level marketing. These various efforts can provide valuable insight to inform the FTC’s investigations of MLMs, which involve fact-specific and comprehensive analysis of multiple factors.
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.).
Thanks for this post. Very helpful. I do like direct sales; one reason for this is that it helps keep alive that age-old tradition of people interacting face-to-face (rather than mainly through texting and social media). For that reason, I think MLMs should target the lonely Millennials. Anyway, I was a member/distributor of Advocare for over 10 years and still miss the products and the activities in the company, now that I am temporarily out. I still plan to sign up again when I can afford it (long story–I’ll spare you). I am now involved in Melaleuca, and I must say in their defense that Melaleuca’s products are actually not overpriced. Because Preferred Customers are not only not expected, but also NOT ALLOWED to turn around and sell the products at the retail price, everyone pays the same low prices. (Granted, one can indeed go to the website and buy directly from the company if they do not want to become a Preferred Customer. Why would someone do that when the annual membership is only $19? Only if they do not want to commit to the minimum monthly requirement for Preferred Customers.) Public, keep this in mind! Don’t be fooled by the rebels who are selling old Melaleuca products on Amazon for way above the retail price!! You’re much better off buying fresh products directly from the factory, even if you pay retail price. Just sayin. My big question: What about Tupperware? I have been a Tupperware consultant for about 6 months, and I have found it to be extremely difficult to keep business going. The directors training me have said that Tupperware is the second most widely recognized brand name in the world, second only to Coca-Cola. If that is the case, why is it so hard to find people willing to host Tupperware parties? Why does it seem so hard to sell? Also, is it just me…Or, does Tupperware’s compensation plan stink?
Hi Jeremy great article. Here’s my take for what it is worth,after working 50 years for the bank making not so much money,having to accommodate there time schedule ,negotiated vacations and seeing very few people advance to 6 figure incomes,I’m somewhat intrigued by the idea of using my retirement years looking at mlm as a part time endeavour . Obviously I put a lot of blood sweat and tears into my previous job,so I’m not expecting to make my millions in a couple years in mlm, but I like the (do it in your own time) idea. If I find a product I like and would use anyway why not? I also like the idea that the potential is there biased on your own efforts. Am I wrong What do you think?
MLM has stretched its sticky fingers out into just about every product market out there, so it’s kinda hard to do something new nowadays. But Jamberry Nails did it. Their adhesive, custom nail designs BLEW UP when they hit the direct sales floor. They built up an army of over 100,000 consultants in the time it takes most people to get a mediocre pay raise at their 9-5.
The Filipino community, much like many immigrant communities, is ripe for the recruitment of participants in MLMs. Filipino immigrants can be particularly easy targets to exploit, as this Filipino-American writer can attest. They are easygoing and friendly. The ones with a college education understand and speak English very well. The community is crawling with network marketers hawking everything from cosmetics to travel packages to insurance products, courtesy of companies that promise the dream of passive income as well as incentives such as car bonuses and vacations.
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 totally agree, Mary. You can lose soooo much more just by opening up a small storefront business. I was in the Spa Industry and then the economy tanked in late 2008. I did not renew my lease in 2009. Lost my several hundred thousand dollar build-out. Lost so much more than taking an MLM business seriously. Even if I would have front loaded on a ton of product, I still would have been better off. People spend $750 and get some business cards then do nothing and blame MLM.

I thought this article was fantastic. I currently work with an MLM and love it, but I definitely can see why MLM’s would have flaws. However, I also know for me it wasn’t about selling as much as it was SHARING. I have experienced more than a product, I have been able to share the gift of health and the gift of the business itself. I absolutely love it and people who join me in this mission are as passionate as well! I believe when we look at really loving people where they are and actually caring, success will come and not the other way around. That’s the only way I’ve been able to see it happen! Any who, thanks for the tips!
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]
As a last resort, you could try cold calling by phone. This is probably the most depressing and soul destroying activity on the planet. Even if you get past the usual questions such as ‘If you’re selling something – I’m not interested’ and ‘How did you get my number?’ you need a really slick and professional script and the ability to recognize and avoid lonely old ladies who just want to interact with someone, anyone, in fact.

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I agree with you that much of the industry is flawed, but what about an MLM that has a service rather than a product such as electricity. It’s not like that could go out of style or that once you buy it you don’t need it again or that your monthly supply is too much and you’re going to stop the monthly subscriptions. I can honestly say that I cannot stand most MLM companies because regardless what you believe or how much you like the product, if you have to try to convince someone else to use it then inevitably the system is flawed and eventually your residuals will dry up. Electricity though, that’s different in my opinion, no one has to convince me to use it, it just comes by default. Find me an MLM that is not selling so much as showing someone an alternative to what they already have to pay and I’d be interested.
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