Pyramid or Business Opportunity? That Sounds Like One of Those Pyramid Schemes.

Why are so many involved in one of those pyramid schemes? This is the problem. We assume a business model we don’t understand is a pyramid scheme. They are not pyramid schemes, they are an alternative business opportunity that levels the playing field, making it affordable for most to get started with limited resources.

Pyramid Scheme

Pyramid structureA pyramid scheme has no final product. When you “buy in”, you give your money and then go and get others to do the same. In one model, you recruit levels below you and when it reaches so many levels, the top person leaves and the next two split to form two new pyramids. This continues until you can no longer get people to cough up the money to join the pyramid.

Notice that at no time did anyone buy a product or service. That’s what makes it a pyramid.

Here’s the rub, if you look at a “traditional” business model or a network marketing business model on paper, you will see a pyramid.

“Traditional” Business

In a conventional bricks and mortar type business, there is usually an individual who starts the business. They may eventually grow large enough to need more people. This is when the pyramid begins!

CEO

Vice-President Sales and Marketing | Vice-President Operations

District Sales Manager|Director Marketing|Director Facilities|Director Purchasing

Are you starting to get the picture? A “traditional” business eventually starts to become a pyramid. It can’t survive growth if it doesn’t. Those who believe they can do it on their own eventually give up under the weight of the business demands.

Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) or Network Marketing

In the world of MLM or Network Marketing, there are a few challenges.

Legitimate MLM or network marketing companies offer a service or product that meets a particular need in the marketplace. For example (Yes, these are my affiliate links.):

Image representing Canadian justice.When you decide to try a network marketing business, you have to decide if you are going to just sell product or service or are you going to develop a business enterprise. The choice is yours to make. You are the CEO of your own business. You have just decided that your business is going to represent a company and their product or service. How you do that is up to you. MLM is an alternative business model where you will have built in systems and coaching. Your mind is like a parachute. It only works when it’s open.

Sales isn’t for everyone. The challenge is that we don’t know if we don’t try. Most of us are selling all the time and don’t realize it. Whether it’s convincing your boss to try something new or your spouse to go see a movie, you are selling the idea. You might to learn some skills and tactics specific to your chosen business to succeed. Go in with an open mind and be willing to learn.

Some find that they can be consumed by the business for a while. Think about it. Have you ever seen a friend or family member open a shop and all of a sudden, it seems they dropped off the face of the earth? They didn’t. They are focused on growing their business and sometimes have to make sacrifices. What are you willing to do? Are you one of those people that have a negative impact on people close to you who have tried to start a business, MLM or otherwise?

At times, the greatest challenge is your own mind. If you don’t believe in your own ability to achieve success, you can be guaranteed that you won’t. In the immortal words of Earl Nightingale, “you become what you think about most often“.

The bottom line is that most of those “pyramid schemes” are legitimate business opportunities. Are you afraid of them because you don’t believe you can succeed? Does labelling the opportunity a pyramid scheme allow you to excuse yourself from taking any risk and maybe achieving financial and time freedom?

The choice is yours to make. Don’t let others tell you what to do.

The video below is a little dated and some might think a little “cheesy” but it does a not bad job of discussing MLM versus pyramid.

Make it a great day!

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for people who are able to think independently. I’m thankful for people who aren’t afraid to ask me to look at their business opportunity. I’m thankful for any chance to learn. What are you thankful for today?

 

Sales and Service: Land of Promises and Land of Broken Promises!

Sales people are forever making promises and service people always let them down. We need to remember how much we need each other or we will all go broke!

Sales: The Land of Promises

Have you ever worked in sales and had to work with the service department to keep customers satisfied with your post-sales support?

I have been in sales for a number of years. I learned, sometimes the hard way, just how much I needed the service department’s support in order to be successful. Here are just a few things that can make a world if difference:

And those are just a few.

When I was designing small to medium business technology solutions, I would often spend time with technicians in the service department bouncing ideas off them before making a pitch to a client. That feedback prevented me from embarrassing myself or them in the eyes of the client.

sales information exchangeThe salesperson is the public face of the company. They are expected to:

  • Identify need;
  • Clarify need by asking probing questions;
  • Handle objections;
  • Help client make a buying decision.

It’s when this process breaks down that the land of broken promises starts to develop. One unanswered or unasked question at a time.

Land of Broken Promises

In an ideal world, the service department is your before and after sales support that gives you good decision making information before the sale and then keeps the customer satisfied with your solution after the sale.

When we land in Broken Promises, it’s usually because of at least one of these things:

  • Bad technical information;
  • Poor Communication;
  • Unexpected problems during delivery;
  • Unrealistic expectations;
  • Dishonesty.

person cryingInformation and Communication

Bad technical information isn’t necessarily the fault of your technical/service support. You may not have asked the right questions or truly understood what the client needed. You need to ask enough questions that the client almost starts to become annoyed. Then you have to do the same to your technical/service support people!

It’s better to have a client tell you they are not willing to go through the pain to achieve their objective, or a technician to tell you your plan won’t work, than you have to go through the pain of resolving a conflict with the risk of having an unsatisfied client out there telling everyone their experience. It takes 10 client success stories to make up for the one that got away!

Unexpected problems are usually the result of not asking enough questions. There could be a mixture of generations of technology and the client forgot how old something was but it is an important part of their business. This caused a problem with your solution but guess what? You’re the professional. You are supposed to know everything. At least, that’s what the client believes.

Expectations

Clients may have unrealistic expectations. You did such a great job “selling” your solution, they expect it to solve all their problems without a hitch. This is a good place to pre-handle objections. For example, I had a client ask me if I could I could guarantee they would never have a problem with me or my company. My response was that this is a long term relationship and I can guarantee that we will face a challenge at some time. The difference is that I won’t hide from or run from a problem. Note earlier I used the word challenge? There is no such thing as a problem!

Set expectations up front. How will cost be handled? Build in a bumper and be clear it’s to allow for the unexpected. Oops! I guess that’s expected now. Be clear that you are willing to face up to disagreements as long as they are handled with respect, and so on.

Dishonesty is a real problem. Many times it’s the client that is guilty. They knew about a potential challenge but hoped it wouldn’t show up. Out of embarrassment, they may try to transfer the guilt to you. Don’t get caught up in the blame game. If you made a mistake, own it and ask forgiveness while proposing a solution that shouldn’t really cost your client. If it’s the client, don’t apologize but recognize this is one of those “challenges” you expected you might face. Offer a way for the client to save face with as little cost to them as possible.

The Land of Broken Promises is a horrible place. Try your best to stay out of there and help your team support people stay there with you. You are the leader. Lead!

Make it a great day,

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for great teachers. I’m thankful for great clients. I’m thankful for opportunities to learn. What are you thankful for today?

Why I Use Goo.gl For Link Shortening.

Goo.gl is my favourite link shortening site. Not because of the link itself but because of the analytics that come with it.

Goo.gl

Google provides https://goo.gl free of charge. As we all know, nothing is ever really free. We are giving them some great traffic information that helps them target things like Google Adwords. I’m slipping a bit on that one. I need to incorporate some Adwords into my web pages and posts. I digress.

Goo.glGoo.gl provides great feedback. For example, I posted a blog and was surprised to find that I have more clicks in the US than I do in Canada. Almost twice as many! And then Australia and the UK. Another measure that surprised me was how much is on handheld devices. 90% of the clicks were on Facebook Mobile. The rest were on Facebook on desktops. The fact that I published that blog to Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter means that I really need to focus most of my attention on Facebook when I’m blogging. The results are a little different when I’m sharing other content while making my own comments. Still 65% or more on Facebook but there is a greater proportion of “other” that I believe is likely Twitter and other referral sites.

Other LInk Shorteners

There are at least a couple of other options I’m aware of. Hootesuite provides a built in shortener, ow.ly and there is another service called bit.ly. Both provide analytics but you get more with Google for less. Besides, I couldn’t prove it but I would bet that Google ranks their shortened links higher.

So, why do I use goo.gl? Because it’s easy to use and understand. And, it’s affordable.

Make it a great day!

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for Google Analytics. I’m thankful for Hootsuite. I’m thankful for my Pure Leverage suite of tools! What are you thankful for today?

Social Media Can Be A Mine Field

Social media is a great tool for marketing and staying in touch with people in far away places. Just remember that it can be fraught with danger!

SOCIAL MEDIA CAN BE A MINE FIELD

One of the challenges with social media is that people can’t usually see our faces and body language. That means they only get about 40% of the message. Is that enough to ensure you aren’t misunderstood?

Mom&BrettI’ll use a personal example. I wrote a blog in January of 2012 about how great a year 2011 had been and posted it to my Facebook news feed. My reason for 2011 being so great was that in 2010, we almost lost our house, my mother died, my father had a stroke and my son died. In 2011, I had been in a new job for a year, we had managed to save our home with the help of friends and family, my other kids appeared to be getting their lives back on track after losing their brother the year before. When you compare the two, 2011 was a great year.

What I forgot about was that my nephew had died that year.

I received a call from my brother-in-law. He was furious. “How could you say that!”. My wife asked me to take down that blog because of the pain it was causing my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. Although not sorry for what I said, I was sorry for how it made them feel and took the blog down.

If you are going to be active in social media, be prepared to eat some crow once in a while. I’m not saying not to be honest and say what you feel. Just be prepared that not everyone will agree with you and you might bruise some toes once in a while and have to explain yourself.

Social Media and Business

When it comes to business, the challenges are even greater. My brother-in-law might not be happy with what a I said a few years ago but he has forgiven and moved on. We are friends again. That took a couple of years!

criticismIn the case of business, prospects and clients aren’t necessarily so forgiving. I’m still married to my brother-in-law’s sister so he was forced to be near me and that gave us a chance to “kiss and make up”. Your followers and customers don’t have to. With a click of a mouse, you are unfollowed. If you are lucky, that’s all. With the power of social media, your followers, prospects and customers have a voice.

Look at Air Canada for example. There was an incident in February of 2017 where a plane had been grounded due to weather. It was midnight and passengers were told there was no food available as everything was closed. A West Jet pilot was in the same airport. He took the initiative to order pizza and came to the Air Canada passengers saying that “‘Hey … I am from WestJet and we do things differently. Who wants pizza?”. Facebook postings went nuts! Lucky for Air Canada, most of the commentary was positive for the West Jet pilot as opposed to directly negative for Air Canada.

Air Canada, to their credit, was quick to apologize and recognize the West Jet pilot for his efforts. Silence could have been deadly. Social media is a mine field. Tread carefully.

Have A Voice But Remember Words Matter

Question?By all means, have a voice. Just remember that words matter. Your readers may not have your language as their first language and are interpreting into their context. For example, “I’m going to the park” may translate to “I’m making a trip to the park” in a Latin language. If you’re lucky, your comments translate that well but not always. What if it’s something like “I beat my wife at a game of chess” and it translated to “I played a game of chess with my wife and I beat her”. If English isn’t my first language, I might be concerned you were beating your wife!

Words mean different things to different people. I highly recommend reading The Secret Language of Leadership by Steve Denning. Choose your words carefully but just as important, try to understand how your readers will interpret them.

Make it a great day!

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for social media. I’m thankful for family. I’m thankful for opportunity. What are you thankful for today?

Are you disturbing? Disturb and Motivate!

Disturbing someone’s thought process is the best way to motivate them to make a change. This can be applied just easily to social change as it can to sales.

Disturbing to Achieve Social Change and Justice

A co-worker recently did a workshop on Bias Awareness. The purpose was to teach us how to be aware of bias that we didn’t realize we had. For example, I am Roman Catholic and was raised in a Christian environment. My mother had a love for the Christmas holiday. She passed that on to me. It’s the middle of November, my lights are up and I have started wearing my Christmas ties!

Be the positive energy in the room!During our training session, my co-worker made us aware that as a Jewish person, she had a hard time knowing what to say when someone wishes her a Merry Christmas. I would expect this creates discomfort for her. Getting dressed a couple of days later, I looked in the mirror and saw an old white guy with a dark green shirt and gold tie. Very “Christmasy”. That me wonder how it would make a non-Christian feel seeing the same image at this time of year.

Now, I don’t apologize for being Christian or demonstrating my faith. I’m not forcing my faith on anyone, just not apologizing. Wearing my Christmas tie is not much different than someone wearing a turban, sari or hijab. They tell me you adhere to certain beliefs but they don’t tell me anything about who you are.  I’m not saying not to wear identifying clothing, I’m just suggesting we be cognizant of the effect that we can have on someone else in our environment.

I just went to my co-worker and made her aware she was “disturbing”. Now I need to tell her what that means. She is disturbing because she gave some great examples of bias in the world around us and how it may affect us. Because of that, she made me think about some of my Christmas habits. They may or may not change, I haven’t decided yet, but at least she has me thinking about my bias and how I may not even realize how that affects people I care about.

I don’t know if she realizes it but, she is disturbing more than just me and I expect there will be social change and that will result in people making more just decisions. Justice.

Disturbing to Help People Buy

Creating demand for your service or product isn’t much different than disturbing patterns to achieve social change. We tend to adhere to certain norms and patterns without conscious thought. Disturb and motivate is commonly heard in the sales industry referring to causing your prospect to stop and think about your value proposition so that they may change the way they think and be open to what you are offering.

Image representing Canadian justice.For example, my wife markets LegalShield membership. One of the greatest challenges is people who don’t believe they have a need for a #LegalSavingsPlan. We are conditioned to believe lawyers or attorneys are too expensive and the legal system is really for the rich for dealing with large financial issues.

To help open the mind a bit, we might ask questions about things like children being bullied and knowing what is reasonable to expect of the educational system. Maybe it’s dealing with a wireless provider and their policies. Did you that anyone can make a policy but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will stand up in a courtroom? How would you know? Most up us wouldn’t. That’s what your legal services provider is for.

Once you disturb someone’s pre-conceived ideas, you are more likely able to motivate them to consider doing something different. This applies to sales and social alike.

So, are you disturbing? You should be!

Make it a great day,

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’mean thankful for open minded people. I’m thankful for disturbing people. I’m thankful for this blog space.

What are you thankful for today?

Banner