entrepreneurship, online marketing

21 Ways to Fail at Direct Selling and Network Marketing

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Originally published in Networking Times magazine

Network marketing is one of the best opportunities out there for entrepreneurs.  It can help create multiple income streams and side-step some financial pressures of changing economic times and questionable futures of jobs and careers.

Here are 21 common ways that most people go wrong.  Read them to see what you can do differently to bring out your own success.  No matter what stage you are in, and no matter what your experience, you can earn money in this business if you don’t fall prey to the common mistakes listed here.


1)       Think that residual income comes without work.  Think that passive income means you can be inactive yourself.  Think there is a silver bullet.  Think this is a Plan B, get-rich-quick plan. Think you will succeed without business and marketing knowledge and leadership

2)       “Try it” while you have a real job.  Treat it like a hobby.  Commit when it starts working on its own.

3)       Ask your friends and family to buy your stuff.  Phone up your high school best friend from 10 years ago and ask them to join your business.

4)       Think this isn’t sales, but “sharing”.  If product doesn’t move, no one gets paid.  The mistake comes in when people assume this means pushing products to people who don’t need them.  The other mistake comes when people don’t realize the biggest thing people are buying is THEM not just the products.  You sell yourself more than you sell products.

5)       Prejudge – screen everyone out.  Decide that your friend has no money, your associate isn’t interested, and your neighbor would never do network marketing.

6)       Recruit just about anyone.  Think everyone is your prospect and that anyone can do this.

7)       Make excuses.  Blame.  Blame your upline, blame the company, blame the costs.  See problems. Doubt….doubt yourself, doubt the company, doubt your team.  Accept life’s bumps as excuses. Think short-term and stop when there is a small problem.

8)       Don’t share until you know all the product ingredients and details.  Think you won’t be able to talk about this until you intimately know every detail.  Think product sells itself.

9)       Tell everyone about your products and not the business opportunity.  Tell them how great the products are, without finding out what their needs are.  Talk without asking questions.  Think that pitching and selling out of context or relevancy of the conversation will work.

10)   Spend money on product and hold inventory.  You can’t keep yourself in business if you are buying your way to management.  The product has to move.

11)   Don’t follow the system.  When the company has an outline for productive, income-generating activity, just do it your way.

12)   Put time into flyers and emails.  Spend hundreds of dollars and hundreds of hours going to trainings. Listen to audio or webcasts without contacting any prospects.  Count busy-work as “activity”.

13)   Hand out samples without getting firm followup plans and contact info.  Sample to people before making strong contact.

14)   Don’t set up your separate business office space and business accounts.  Don’t have a system for calling and contacting.  Don’t work from a goal and action plan.

15)   Stop when you hear NO.  Refuse to ask for a commitment because they probably don’t want it if they didn’t say yes right away.  Stop when then say the first “no” without finding out why, and answering their questions.  Send an email with a link and don’t follow-up.  If they were interested they would reach me back.

16)   Forget to follow-up.  Figure if they wanted the products, they would contact you.  Say you will reach them next week, and call them when you get a chance.

17)   Put your interests first to meet your numbers.  Watch your production numbers and push people to meet your timing.  Wait on your friend or associate to come through with the order in order to build your business.

18)   Don’t make phone calls.  Don’t ask prospects about themselves.  Don’t get to know their hot buttons.  Don’t do cold prospecting.

19)   Don’t attend company meetings, calls and events.  Don’t work on personal growth and training. View skill development as a waste of time.  Think you know it all, and be too entrepreneurial. Don’t be coachable.  You have a long success path behind you so trust your talents.

20)   Don’t appreciate crossline and upline.  Fail to identify and work with leaders.  Fail to duplicate the process.

21)   Switch companies when you see the first sign of something not working for you.  If the company delivers late or makes a mistake, it’s time to jump ship.  If they don’t develop new products to your liking, find somewhere else.


Don’t follow the pack.  Follow the leaders only.  Follow basic marketing and business rules and work your company’s system and plan.

This business is very simple but you have to do it.  Don’t wait for a better solution, just get active.

Discipline your work ethic, and keep your activity consistent.  A little effort consistently every day works a lot faster and stronger than bursts and lulls.  Focus your activity on qualifying prospects, sorting them by priority and interests, and presenting your products and opportunity.

Work your self-growth and self-talk.  Learn and improve on whatever talents you need to improve. Everyone can learn them, and get better over time.

The process is also simple.  Build a list of prospects, qualify them by sorting, grow relationships, and present and market to your list with a close to action.  You will need to fuel constant leads by meeting new people or getting introduced.

Lead with yourself, not the business or the product line.  Use company tools and 3-way calls to edify your team and show that the process is duplicatable.

Fund your prospecting with income not savings.  Keep investing until you have a bank of prospects.

Now go out and create yourself multiple streams of income!

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