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December 1999


Ten Years of Upline

Close Encounters of the Networking Kind - Joe Rubino

Success in Network Marketing depends on a distributor really getting a number of key distinctions. These distinctions go far beyond mere information, training and sales techniques. The truly successful MLMer actually becomes these distinctions. Let me explain.

The vast majority of sales techniques and selling knowledge used in the direct sales industry were developed in the "product-oriented" space age of the Fifties and Sixties. The focus was on product: good products, new products, revolutionary products! Selling such products was simply a matter of convincing your prospect of their value after explaining all of their benefits.

This simple show and tell technique worked great in the industrial age and still has its applications in certain markets and instances. However, unlike the product-oriented past, we now live in a people-oriented society. This is where Network Marketing comes into play.

MLM is about people. Sure, there have to be great products; there usually are. Sure, they need to enhance the quality of life for those purchasing them; they usually do. But there's more.

MLM is about people getting control of their lives, following their dreams, living their values and supporting other people to do the same.

That's why typical "sales people" usually fail miserably in MLM. They're so indoctrinated in product that they lose sight of the fact that this is a people business. That's why so many distributors never really make it. Their focus is in the wrong place: either on product or on making themselves a lot of money-- both of which are relatively unimportant to everyone else in the world.

Network Marketing is about relationships. Period.

That's why the old theory of "throw enough mud against the wall and see what sticks" does not work. It's not about other people doing it alone and making you a lot of money. Rather, it's about you partnering with others to help them realize their dreams-- and then it's about those people partnering with others to help them realize theirs, and so forth. It's about you committing to the success of others-- a 100 percent commitment on your part, not "50-50" as you may have been led to believe. This is where the power of MLM lies! It lies in relationships-- emotional, committing, contributing, empowering relationships. Whatever you contribute to others will come back to you-- ten-fold!

With this in mind, the successful distributor simply keeps focused on the other person. This does not mean a 30-minute monologue on the value of the products or how great the company is or what you are doing. It's really about listening-- instead of speaking. Listening to what's important to the other person. Hearing their concerns, commitments, and dreams. What's missing in their lives? What are their values and where are they not honoring them? It's about developing a vision of what an ideal life might look like-- a life without regrets. It's about seeing only possibilities for life instead of stops.

"OK-- so how do you get there?" Great question. Let's start at the beginning-- with prospecting.

  As you direct the course of the conversation with questions, you're also fulfilling your prospects' need to dominate the conversation by answering those questions.
When you first approach a new prospect, you are most likely an intrusion into his or her life. Prospects have their own concerns, pressures and agenda of the day. These commonly result in some degree of resistance to taking the time and effort to listen to what you have to say or offer. Your first objective is to break this invisible resistance by getting their attention.  

The best way to do this is usually by talking to them about something they are interested in-- usually themselves. Some call this "building rapport." After all, since Network Marketing is the people business, what better way is there to begin a new relationship than by truly getting to know your prospect? Do this by asking questions about them-- what they do, their hobbies, passions, family, where they're from, what they like to do in their spare time, etc. Ask a question, then listen. Listen to what they say and to what they do not say. Call them by name. Offer a sincere acknowledgment if appropriate. In short, get to know them.

Next, look to create interest for them. From your listening, you will have determined much of what is important to them and what's missing in their lives, i.e. where you and your opportunity might be a contribution. If you create enough interest, no prospect will be too busy. We humans are all tuned into the same radio station-- WII-FM (What's In It For Me?). Pique their interest; arouse their curiosity to learn more.

Don't even think of continuing with your conversation until you've successfully done this much. If you need to spend the entire first conversation building rapport, getting to know them, do so. It's better than steam rolling into your monologue of what's important to you before you set the stage for them to listen to what you have to say. You will never successfully enroll a prospect before you have "created a listening."

Up to this point, you've begun to know and understand something about what's important to your prospects. By asking questions, you have determined what's working for them and what is not. Now it's time to embellish this area of discontent in their lives. Assist your prospects to get in touch with the pain of what's not working and make the costs of their problems real for them.

You are now ready to present the possibility of a solution to their needs. Again, you must be engaged in a two-way conversation with your prospect. If you are doing all of the talking, they're probably not listening. Go back and ask more questions.

As you direct the course of the conversation with questions, you're also fulfilling your prospects' need to dominate the conversation by answering those questions. Ask the question, then let your prospect answer without interruption. Your listening will dictate where the conversation should go as your questions anticipate and preempt many potential objections.

With rapport established and an understanding for your prospects' needs in place, you are now ready to share a little bit about your opportunity as it relates to those benefits you perceive to be of importance to them.

Here, don't just show and tell about your products; speak of the benefits that can be realized as a result of the products, the company and the opportunity. Speak to your prospect's emotions and share those benefits which address the pain in their lives. Continue to keep the emphasis on the prospect-- not the products.

Keep your conversation clear, focused, succinct and powerful. The longer you ramble, the greater the risk of turning off your prospect. Never pressure your prospects into a decision; instead, support them in arriving at their own decision-- and never argue! "A man convinced against his will remains of the same opinion still."

As you recount the benefits of becoming involved in your opportunity, remember that until your prospect is convinced of what you are saying, your benefits live only as claims. To ground these claims in facts, tell stories.

  As you recount the benefits of becoming involved in your opportunity, remember that until your prospect is convinced of what you are saying, your benefits live only as claims. To ground these claims in facts, tell stories.
Get to know the stories of all your company's most successful leaders. "Facts tell-- stories sell." So "prove" your benefit claims with appropriate evidence, testimonials and stories.  

During this process, it's vitally important to maintain your "posture." Enthusiasm is essential to attract dynamic leaders, but it is also equally important not to convey a sense of desperation. Remember, you would love to have your prospect join you in partnership-- and you don't need them to do so. Maintaining such a posture creates tremendous freedom for your prospect to choose to join you-- or not. It also implies a sense of abundance rather than scarcity. Remember, there are plenty of other people who would love to be your partner if the timing is not right for this particular prospect.

Throughout the entire rapport-building process, questioning and sharing of benefits, most of your prospect's objections will have been dissolved. At each juncture in the conversation, check out how your prospect "feels" (not "thinks") about a particular point or benefit. These checks allow you to gauge the course of the conversation while providing an opportunity for objections to surface and be given clear voice.

Keep firmly in mind the fact that a sincere objection is the sign of sincere interest. As such, objections should be welcomed as great opportunities to educate and enlighten. While objections may, on the surface, appear logical, most often they are really emotional in nature. They merely indicate a concern of your prospect which, once satisfied, will only strengthen their desire to join you. Again, objections need to be embellished, as in, "I know what you mean, I had a similar concern until ..." and so forth. In the end, prospects will be more concerned with benefits than answered objections. Don't get bogged down with them, but do look for opportunities to get your prospect "complete" with them, so that you both can continue to focus on the benefits of your opportunity as they relate to your prospect's life.

At the end of your prospecting conversation, the value of your opportunity and the possibilities of a fit for the prospect will have been established. The "close" then is nothing more than the natural conclusion to the conversation. All of the objections will have been handled and the prospect will be left with a few simple choices of how he or she might proceed to get started and what the next action will be.

In summary, each prospecting conversation should be entered into with an intended result, viewed as the beginning of a potential life-long relationship. Possibilities for the prospect's needs, wants, and dreams will be open for exploration. Equally important, the prospect will have begun to examine the distinctions of partnershipping, commitment and vision-- all keys to true, fulfilling Network Marketing success.

In the end, the prospect will be left with the sense that Network Marketing goes way beyond any particular product or company or opportunity-- that at its essence, it is simply about honoring people and creating new possibilities for their lives.

DR. JOE RUBINO is an internationally acclaimed trainer, author of Been There, Done That, and success coach who cofounded "Conversations For Success," a course in personal and productivity development for Network Marketers. Joe is also a top distributor and a member of the advisory board with his Network Marketing company. He operates his business out of Andover, MA. This article first appeared in the April 1994 issue.

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Reprinted with permission from Upline, Close Encounters of the Networking Kind - December 1999, 888-UPLINE-1,