Multi-Level Marketing Realities – Part 10
In part 9 I taked about the summer of 1998 and how the MLM company decided not to allow sponsoring any longer until further notice. I guess they did this to get more control over how the product was being sold, as distributors were saying all kinds of things about the product. We were still sending out all kinds of distributor information packets with a notice that said that the MLM company was not sponsoring at the current time so to expect a wait when they sent in their paperwork. The company finally allowed sponsoring in the fall of 1998.
I believe by this point we were already beyond $5,000 per month in commissions and applications were coming in at about 30 per month. This was actually a pretty small number compared to the number of information packets we were sending out but we were doing no follow-up, just sending them out and hoping for the best. Between info packets and distributor packets we were sending out probably 20 – 50 per day.
Before or during the fall I had found a company that handled off-site telephone service, I signed up, and I put it to work. We would have our 800 number call the service, and it would sort calls to voice mails or round robin call us or one of our distributors. With this addition it made the calls easier to handle and made it so we wouldn’t get calls in the middle of the night. It also made it possible to try to increase our volume.
Our volume of visitors to our website had started to decline slightly as we were getting more distributors listed on Yahoo so visitors were spread out to others as well as us. So I started to look at paid advertisements and spent some amount of money on advertising during this period. I also attempted to sell leads to other distributors, with Wayne being the only one that took us up on it. He was also answering our telephone so he was getting some leads and sales via our telephone but he was looking for more. I did add more advertising as time went on trying to reinvest in our business and push profits into future years.
During the fall of 1998 the MLM company asked us, or more specifically Chris, if she would be part of the company’s distributor advisory board. Chris was the distributor according to our distributor application and I really didn’t want to try to work and fly out to San Diego on a quarterly basis. We were selected because we were in the top 5% of all distributors and chosen at random I guess. Chris was able to meet the executive management at the company plus get ideas from other top distributors.
I think it was during the fall that the compliance department was set up at the MLM company and they started reviewing web sites of distributors. They would from time to time ask us to make changes that I wouldn’t find very agreeable, plus they would be pretty heavy handed about it. They would threaten that they would revoke our distributor agreement if we wouldn’t comply. Often their requested changes would infringe on our business practices and I would have a problem with this, but most of the time they were just asking for minor changes.
We started to see interest in our product from overseas in the fall and I believe we shipped to several countries. We had to learn how to ship internationally and fill out customs forms. We had one customer from Australia that wanted to order, and they told us how to get it past customs, so I shipped it out. Australia wasn’t allowing our product to be sold there because of the ingredients.
In part 11 I will move on to the Winter and Spring of 1999, when the MLM company’s compliance department required us to shut down our web site for several days.