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11 Reasons People Say "No" to MLM and Network Marketing

The author is on a mission to find legitimate money-making opportunities to share with the world. She shares what she has learned here.

Are you skeptical of MLM companies? Here is a guide that may address your doubts.

Are you skeptical of MLM companies? Here is a guide that may address your doubts.


Multi-level marketing (MLM) companies offer anyone interested a way to own a thriving business at a fraction of the cost of a normal business startup. Some marketers involved in MLM are making six, seven, or even eight figures. But there is a flip side. There are reasons that some people are nervous about getting involved in MLM. Here are 11 of those reasons.

1. I Thought MLM Was a Scam

We’ve all heard the stories. Maybe you’ve been there. You give someone a heap of money on the MLM promise that they can make you rich. You will supposedly earn hundreds of thousands of dollars and not have to do a thing. People will be knocking down your door to take advantage of this grand opportunity. Just hound all your friends and family to get them to give you money so you’ll have a downline. If you fail, you lose, and no one cares.

Which MLM do you associate with the word scam? Ok, now that you’ve said it, I don’t have to. There might very well be people around trying to make a go of any one of these opportunities, and I don’t like to be one to crap on anyone’s parade. Some research must be done to determine the outline of compensation, bonus plan, commission, and product to determine whether or not an opportunity falls into the "scam" category.

Compare opportunities to see what benefits are available. Example: Did you know that Avon is an MLM? You’re not afraid of Avon, are you? In fact, you might very well be a customer. Why? Because Avon has made a good name for itself, and part of the reason for Avon’s GOOD reputation is all the successful agents selling Avon products around the world. When we think of MLM, we don’t think of Avon, all those successful Avon sales representatives, and all the great products being used in millions of households. No, when we think of MLM, we think of that other company, and we say, “Oh, no thank you.”

2. I’ve Always Heard That You Shouldn’t Have to Pay to Get a Job

If you’re used to checking out opportunities before you pay "the fee" to join, then you’ve heard this mantra a million times—"never pay a fee to get a job." If you hear that there are a million work-at-home data entry jobs, and one company has access to them all, and it is only $49.95 for administration costs to get access to these one million companies, don’t do it. The same goes for surveys. It’s not necessary to pay a fee to get a list of marketing research companies who will pay for your opinion. That information is readily available. So, of course, when you get ready to join an MLM and find out there’s a whopping sign-up fee, the red flag goes up.

So who are we kidding here? If you want to mess around the bottom of the barrel with data entry and survey opportunities in order to try to make a living on the internet, that’s fine. The difference with a reputable MLM company is that it’s not just a job. We’re not talking about paying someone an administration fee to get access to public information. MLMs with quality products are offering you an opportunity to become an independent contractor on behalf of the company and the product.

For the sign-up fee, you should receive any number of the following: a heap of the quality product that you’ll be selling, samples of the product for your customers, advertising materials, access to training, access to promotion and advertising materials, and hopefully a greatly motivated and helpful upline to assist you in your work at home endeavors.

3. I’m Terrible at Marketing, and I Don’t Want to Bother My Friends and Family About Money

The initial reaction when you sign up for an MLM is to start calling all your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, etc. immediately and try to push this product and business opportunity onto them. After all, you won’t make any money until you get people buying your product and signing up to sell it. If you think it’s probably annoying for them to listen to you go on about this or that latest and greatest thing, then it will be.

But here’s something to consider before you sign up for any MLM company: Find a product that you are passionate about. Think about when Sally brings the Avon catalog in and sets it on the breakroom table. Is there a mad rush to take a look at the newest offerings for the month? There just might be. But Avon has been around long enough that it sells itself. Everyone knows what Avon is. People who want it want it; people who don’t ignore it. No one has to be passionate about anything, and it still works.

There are a number of newer MLM companies around that offer tremendously original, quality, and helpful products that are not available anywhere else. Take Isagenix, for example. They offer a high-quality, all-natural line of products that cleanses toxins from your body. Isagenix claims not to be a cure for anything, but with a clean system and all-natural vitamins and minerals being poured into your body, you can take a guess at how many things will straighten themselves out as far as health is concerned. And maybe even better than that, you lose tons of weight by taking it!

Now, is that something you could get passionate about? Would you be annoying your friends if you introduced something like this? It’s natural, it’s healthy, and it’s an easy sell to anyone who wants to get healthy. And it’s because of those reasons that it’s easy to get other people passionate about selling it, too.

4. No One’s Ever Heard of the Product

MLM opportunities are usually initially offered around a product that no one has ever heard of. It’s hard to sell a product that doesn’t already have a name for itself. Consumers will generally buy what they repeatedly see in advertisements. The products offered by MLM companies are generally not seen in the mass advertising circuit. Unless the product is individually advertised by the representative working for the company, it will be news to most people you run into. You might be thinking it’s hard to sell a product that no one’s ever heard of.

Again we go back to attitude. Do your research and get excited about a product. With any MLM opportunity, you’ll be provided with ample information about the product. Find something that either you are interested in or that your friends will enjoy. If you’ve got lots of female co-workers who like to dress up and wear makeup, maybe Mary Kay is for you. If you’re a stay-at-home mom who frequents Chuck E Cheese and playgroups for your children, maybe Discovery Toys is the way to go.

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5. I Don’t Know Anything About Marketing, and I Don’t Think Anyone Will Help Me

Oftentimes, when you bite the bullet and decide to get into an MLM, you are promised that your upline will help, but as soon as they get your money, no one is to be found. You're left out in the cold having to do what we talked about in #3, hunt down your old high school classmates and see if they'll take the bait. If that doesn’t work, you might get desperate and Google the term "MLM leads" and pay a bunch more money for a list of people who are supposedly primed and ready with a credit card in hand. Armed with little-to-now inside information on the product you’re trying to sell, this could be a nightmare.

There are MLM companies out there that have helpful uplines. Kyani, for example, offers lucrative bonuses based on what goes on in your downline. It is highly beneficial for a Kyani representative to assist any reps, personally sponsored or not, in growing their businesses. The example of Kyani is a great one because the pay and commission are good to begin with but get even better when you help out those underneath you. Find an MLM that doesn't leave you out in the cold.

6. I Just Don’t Have the Money; Finances Are Really Tight Right Now

We all know the economy is terrible everywhere, but have you been to Walmart lately? What about at Christmastime? There was no shortage of consumers walking out the doors with big-screen TVs, Nintendo Wiis, and cartloads of gifts and supplies for the holiday. Have you been past a restaurant at dinnertime lately? The parking lots are not empty. People are feeling a pinch in certain areas of their lives, but people will always find a way to buy what they want to buy. Even you.

Did you stop buying weekly lotto tickets? Do you still have cable TV? If you are buying into the right MLM opportunity, it is simply an investment that will turn around and come back to you immediately. Handled correctly, your initial MLM investment will double back onto itself over and over and over. You’re not spending anything. You are creating an opportunity to become as rich as you’d like to be.

7. I Told You Already . . . I Suck at Marketing, and I’m Afraid I Won’t Be Able to Make It Work

Fear is a tricky thing. All sorts of people are afraid of all sorts of things. Do you get the high-school magazine-selling kids at your door every few months or so? You know, the ones claim to be headed for Europe or Australia or somewhere divine? I'll bet some of them are afraid, too, but it's their job to knock on doors and convince people that they are helping out and getting something they like in return for it.

Just like with anything else, you must face your fears. Did you know that Cher gets stage fright every time she gets ready to sing? Every time. But she still goes on and does it, and just imagine what's in her wallet! If you've decided that you want to run a home business and you want to successfully make money, being afraid is not an option. Treat it like a life-or-death situation. If you have no job and no money, you need to make something happen. Treat your MLM opportunity like it's your full-time job, and "the boss" is counting on you to produce, or you'll be fired.

8. I Tried Multi-Level Marketing Before, and It Didn’t Work

Making a ton of money with an MLM is not difficult, so why does it seem like so many people fail? Honestly, people fail at MLM for a number of reasons. I’m going to go back to the product behind the company. You MUST be passionate about anything you are doing, or your potential customers and referrals will not be able to get excited about what you are offering. Research the products behind each MLM and find one that you can really get behind.

Of course, if the company has a grand compensation plan, that’s enough to get anyone excited. If you know you can make a $40,000 bonus by completing goals A, B, and C, and you have an awesome product that solves the needs of many people, you’ve got a double whammy to offer potential clients. Your excitement alone can create a buzz that will generate many leads. Owning your own business is definitely a challenge, and you can’t just trudge along under the radar like with some ‘real’ jobs. But with any challenge, the rewards can be alarmingly lucrative.

9. Get-Rich-Quick Opportunities Are Always Too Good to Be True

Most of us still believe that it's just impossible to get rich. Despite the success stories that we hear about Bill Gates, Michael Dell, or even the lady who created "green" cleaning supplies when doctors couldn't figure out why her child was constantly sick, we still believe that it can't happen for us. Let me repeat: If this is your belief, then you will never have the opportunity to get rich quickly or even get rich at all.

The other problem with the term "get rich quick" is that most of the people who use this term promise great riches in a short amount of time with little to no work on your part. These are the opportunities that are too good to be true. If you get yourself into the right MLM and get yourself into the right attitude, you may not be a millionaire overnight, but you could quite easily achieve financial riches that you could have never dreamed of working 9 to 5 for a corporate office. And with some MLM opportunities, it's even quite possible to achieve millionaire status within a few months or a couple of years at most. What you put into whatever you do will determine the results you take away from the experience.

10. I Thought Pyramid Schemes Were Illegal

The term "scheme" often gets confused with the word "scam." We all know what a scam is, and we are all advised to try to stay advised and as far away as humanly possible from anything that smells remotely of a scam. The term "scheme" can merely be defined as "a plan, design, or program of action to be followed." Pyramid schemes are, in fact, illegal. Many people confuse MLM opportunities with pyramid schemes. The difference is this: MLM opportunities are accompanied by a (usually) worthy product. Within the MLM opportunity, you have the option to sell products to potential customers, in addition to offering the business opportunity to potential distributors.

11. I Need a Real Job

Embarking on the opportunities that the right MLM business can provide for you is quite different from having a ‘real job’ but can actually be a lot less limiting. If you decide you want to run your own business, you get to be the boss. You create the rules, you can break them whenever you want, you get more time with your family, you can smash your alarm clock, and you can potentially make loads more money than any company would ever pay you for your particular skill set. What is it then that makes people nervous about not having the ‘perceived’ security of a real job?

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, our society is programmed by news, media, commercials, advertising, solicitations, government, and consumerism. When science has a breakthrough that destroys years of previous thought, theory, and what we’ve considered to be the facts, it takes a while for people to begin to believe it. The world is rapidly moving through the age of information and virtual reality. How many times will we need to hear of massive layoffs or unemployed college graduates before we realize that times aren’t changing? They’ve already changed.

You know you’ve got to work until you’re 73 or some nonsense before you can apply for social security. Now that’s kind of outrageous if you ask me, and I’m not even going to get into whether or not social security will be available by the time I’m there. We need to stop thinking about thinking outside the box and jump right out of the box. You can actually take advantage of a ground floor opportunity at life! Take a chance, believe in yourself, do some research, and get on the MLM train. You will get out of it what you put into it.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


RAUL on June 28, 2018:

I have joined a MLM company with good products and returns.But the team I am associated with doesn't have successful people in it except my working up-line. The others have simply spent 4-5 years in the business with not much of a result.Moreover the method of prospecting that has been taught is very hard to digest before it is applied.Ex: Unusual and aggressively advertising my lifestyle change and big dreams which far from reality and I am too poor in faking.And secondly somewhere I have this belief that this method wont work with my friends and relatives.

Juan Samsel from Charlotte, NC, United States on August 18, 2014:

Amazing Article...

Valerie on January 12, 2014:

this is a great and helpful article. I'm a networker myself and this'll be part of my guide. Thanks for posting this one.

Rohan Rinaldo Felix from Chennai, India on August 27, 2013:

Very useful article.. I've been breaking my head over affiliate marketing for some time now!

Mark on February 18, 2013:

very good reading.. I was forced into it.. I did join because I felt obliged to my friend. Anyway, that was the wrong idea because, were no longer friends..

Him - "hey, I have something to show you, can you come on THurs?"

Me - oh no MLM recruiting again "ok, what time?" (even though I wanted to sock him).. but because he's my friend.. I'll be a friend to support.

When I got there. At the end of the briefing, I was trapped..

Me - "thanks, I gotta go, it was nice presentation."

Him - "you can do it, you'll make it you'll see"


I did enjoy it.. I like their training.. It did help with the job I love here.

But could never bug my family, friends, etc. I figured, it's embarrassing and I have a name to protect. Besides, people come to me... I don't do the chasing.

Danielle on February 15, 2013:

Quite a long post to read, but well spoken!

MLM on October 03, 2012:

MLM is actually a scam!

100ktrainer from Michigan on January 16, 2012:

I've heard all of these things said and yes these are the things that stop folks from getting involved with MLM.

However, I agree with @angelicwarriors comment that you have to be excited with your product, especially when it comes to recruiting and or getting others to try your product.

You have to use your product and it has to work for you. That way you won't have to sell it, you can simply tell folks your testimonial and let that do the "selling" for you.

Of course there are other factors such as doing research on your company and making sure you 're working with a solid MLM company. All these things instill confidence which is a key factor in removing the fear of getting involved with an MLM company.

John Chartier from EHT New Jersey on May 21, 2011:

I am just getting started in MLM, I love sales, and many points you bring up are eaxxactly why I was succesful... for myself the product is FIRST on my list of needs from a company... If you are not excited about a product you will not be to intrested in telling others...

MLM is sales, you get paid on what you produce... your downline is a direct result of what you did... teach your front line, and you will have a bigger downline in return... forget them and your front line will forget you...

ibloomdrop (author) on October 25, 2010:

Awesome! Glad to be of help. :) Good luck to you with your endeavors.

Chris Tatum on October 25, 2010:

This is so important in building an organization. This has helped me and I will pass along to others. Thanks for your help

Manuel Man on December 09, 2009:

You see, this is the problem though.

when you are talking to a prospect, you need to face them by answering these questions.

Thanks for sharing, you lay out the biggest questions most prospects have.

Manuel Man

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