Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My Journey through Multi Level Marketing (MLM) ..

I would like to share my views on Multi-Level-Marketing Or Networking Business Or eCommerce Business(?) ..

I had heard about AmWay some 12 years ago..Some of My Villager had joined AmWay and was trying to influence/convince others to join in this business.. Most of the People used to say, its not good .. In this business, You need to Plead to others .. you need to Lie .. etc.. etc .. I was student ...had no Money and never thought to join..

Later, When I joined Engineering in 2001, I heard a lot about Conlif Pvt. Ltd (Headquartered in Kolkata) through my friend. He wanted me to join the business. Again, I was student, and I didn't join .. the strategy for this business was that, the New Joiner has to pay 2500 Rs. and can choose one Product (TV, Fridge, Oven, Washing Machine etc.. Manufactured by unbranded companies) and get the product after you add few members in your leg(?) as you might have earned money by that time.. In this business, One of my friend could earn few Lacs Rupees .. Yes I saw that from my Eyes .. He had some 3000+ Members under Him in the Business .. I was later thinking I did mistake by not joining the business..

Later, When I got the job, and after few Calls by UXL Pvt. Ltd. (Kerla Based, But Branch in CMH Road, Bangalore), I thought to attend the Session (?) by few High Ranked (?) Person .. And Person@UXL was able to brainwash (+ I got Greedy) and I joined this business .. let me say what was my State of mind, when I had joined this business .. I thought ..

1. Its just 3000 Rs., and I am getting a Juicer, Mixer, Grinder (I was erroneously thinking that price of this must be in this range only) ..lets grab this..
2. I am quite friendly guy ..and I have 100+ friends in Bangalore itself, and my friends will join this Happily.
3. I will get an account in UXl site, and I can sell the product (Even if some body is not joining the business)
4. I was thinking, I can go to any group of people and start lecturing about the same benefits which was told to me and Its quite logical that people will join this..
5. I don't see any Cheating in this ..whatever the business needs and does is transparent and Hence I am not going to cheat People.
6. I know, I will not be able to work as Hard as others in this company, but In any means I will be able to earn few thousands a month .. just like that ..
7. What will I do anyhow on weekends .. Lets enjoy this.. I will get to know many people in this business ..
8. Even If I do not get a Rupee out of this, Its just 3000 Rs, and I have got a Mixer as well, So I am not gonna waste much of the money so the Risk is less but gain is very very huge (As in the first session, It was asked repeatedly to me to write down my dreams ..and I had written I want to have BMW in 5 years, and They had ready examples who had achieved that..some Gold/Diamond winner ..)
9. I saw other people from all walks of life joining in this business..

.. And Many more ..That I am unable to recall now.. I was very much excited about this .. I started this Idea sharing with my close friends . They politely refused to join this business ..and then I started talking about this in my company ..to my teammates ..and They started making my joke .. and Later, I was talking about this to common public in the Bus sitting next to me, Chai-Coffee walas, Other people in my area .. But no body was interested.. Few seniors (@ UXl suggested, not to talk to prospective clients directly, rather influence/convince them to join the Session by Seniors and They have the capability to Brainwash .. I did this also .. But All in vain .. I had given My friends/colleague's contact number to that Girl who had called me for first time .. She was quite good on talking .. And She was able to get few of my friends to Session but nobody joined the business .. In One Month, I was feeling like, I did mistake.. This is not for me at least .. People started Hating me..They thought, I am a greedy person.. People said.."You had never called me since 1 year but now you are calling for this business .. Huh .. Go To ...." And It was all over .. I decided to stop working for this .. And that's it .. Some counter view (by UXL colleagues) why I failed in this business
1. I attached business with emotion.
2. I could not lie properly.
3. I could not influence others.
4. I didn't work hard, I was not attending meetings regularly ..
5. I was not following the process of not saying anything directly to Customers.
6. I didn't understand the business properly.
7. I could not make new relationships (And later play around with that !!) Blah..Blah..

.. But I was happy by not thinking about that any more ....

Later in 2006, One of my close friend, was again able to convince me emotionally to invest 1500 in RCM MLM business, here I would get some RCM Cloths and same Left-Right mechanism .. What my friend said that, He has to get a leg anyhow by this date .. I offered him the money directly, But He said, I should Influence people in Bangalore to join this .. I clearly denied this.. I said at the max what I can do is, I will send you money, and You do the business in My name .. and I don't want a single rupee out of that ..But I don't want to hear about RCM again .. and hence I was part of RCM ..My Friend had given my Bangalore address in the Form, and Hence I had received few Posts about this Business .. I didn't even talk to any of my friends about this ..

In 2008, few people tried to convince me to join Quest International MLM business, where lots of Software Guys were joining.. It required 30000 Rs to invest initially and I would get one Limited Edition Gold Coin whose value will become huge after few years ..I should make Left-Right etc etc ..and there was potential to earn upto 7 Lacs a month (Was this a weak? I forgot).. This Company had international Presence (HQ: Malaysia?)(and This is banned in Few Countries e.g SriLanka) and lots of High-End (Like IAS officers, Doctors, Engineers) People were Part of this business already .. I had seen few close people to earn upto Crore Rs. with this business in 2 Years .. But I refused to even come for a session ..

Later in 2009, One fine evening, somebody called me (I don't want to take his name, As He is a good Person, and Just trying Hard to get more money for his family) and said, I saw your profile in Networking site (Like LinkedIn) and would like to know, If I am interested in a good Part time job on weekends..There is a eCommerce project coming up in India..First time in India .. People have not understood this technology (?) yet in India .. there is an International Seminar on this project in Chennai on next week, and We are looking for somebody capable to represent that seminar for our behalf .. Also, In my team IITians and IIMians are there.. I asked him, See I am not in Software Development..And Also, I am not looking for any monetary benefit to start with.. rather, I want to socialize with these High-Class People and understand the new technology .. Also, I will come to venue and You may later decide, Whether I am eligible for that .. This Person didn't say anything .. He said..We will be pleased to have you in venue ..somewhere in Koromangala ..
I went to the venue..It was some body's two BHK house with a small White board in the hall .. After few minute, I could feel whats going to happen here (I was thinking People from IIT and IIM will surely offer some Tea/Snacks [as I am coming by driving 15 KM] as soon as I Reach there ..But only water was offered in a Bottle) .. later somebody from IIM Ahmedabad started the explanation of so called eCommerce business .. He said

1. You purchase something in 100 Rs, which is getting manufactured in only 30 Rs, Rest 70 Rs is the distribution/advertisement cost. Why not get the same thing in 30 Rs by Direct Marketing.. [I objected, is it same thing .. Can You give me Colgate paste with MRP 100Rs in 30 Rs, If I join this business .. He said No..this all depends upon Marketing .. You see people Sell Maaza .. There is mostly water with very less fruit concentrate, and We pay for the transportation of water.. but Our Company gives the same (Sorry Similar) thing in concentrate form .. Initially only I asked, Please let me know, If you are finally going to say this is Multi-Level-Marketing, If Yes, I would like to leave now, as I have no time for that, This Gentleman Said, 'Neither Me!! So Please Listen for few minutes and I will answer all your queries"

2. Then He started with, Why do you need to add other fellows in this business (Once I objected saying I don't want want to involve my friends, He said, If you are opening a company, to whom you wall make VP-Sales, VP-Marketing, VP-HR ..Friends/Family only right ..? I said..The VP-sales is an Employee, here you are saying to Hire a customer ..and Hence you can't compare "Making your Friend as VP-Sales in your business" To "Making partner/customer in this business, where I, myself is a customer"). During Some conversation This gentleman said, I did MBA from IIM not you..I understand Business More than you and I am earning a lot out of this business ..I Calmed down .. Also, He said, If You think like this You can never become entrepreneur with this attitude ..(Well, This Future will tell :) )

3. There were other things like, With this business, You get other branded products like Shirts etc..with 50% Discount (I was amazed why John Player [Or something Similar to this Brand] will give 50% Discount to This Customer ..and also, If somebody purchases this shirt, everybody else in the Organization will get a commission .. I was already angry/sad to myself for wasting my time.. I wanted to leave ASAP..So I didn't ask this question .. )

Even after saying straight that, I do not see any rational behind this type of business, People were explaining me about 1100 Crore rupees of Yearly turn Over in India Alone.. Operation in 100+ countries .. etc etc .. I asked, is this company listed in NASDAQ? No..There is no debt on this company .. Its not owned by somebody .. Its company of all ..

Again there was comparison with traditional business model, Franchisee business like McDonald, and Direct Sales marketing .. I could get a sense of correctness in the word of the person who had called me .. Like, In traditional business also, Customer talk so rashly to Vendors, and vendors needs to be in receiving end .. Its same here .. In Traditional business also, You are not forcing customers (In fact you can't), here also same .. In Traditional business, You need to have good contact and Huge money to start with, But, here its not required.. And He said Regarding the Emotions that, Relations will break.. Its not correct ..

Well, I must admit, This person was very cool, Intelligent, Had good position in reputed Software company and Was not talking nonsense .. What ever I asked, He was trying to answer.. But Finally My Fear to lose Relationship and Dignity (I don't know, If I am right, But this is my perspective) won over..and I refused to join this company ..and You guessed right ..This company was AmWay ..

I asked, why did you lie to me Y'day about So called Technology Product, He admitted, Otherwise, I might not have come for the Session (Remember this word?)

Also, I apologized for the Heated questions asked during Presentation and Said I can't join this for now .. But He gave me one CD to see that, how This business changed Life of an IIT Engineer who was thinking same as me and Now Has everything He once dreamed of..

Conclusion:
In my humble opinion, There is no problem in this type of business, Only If, people don't Lie and Show/Proof transparently how the profit is made by Company and Investor (Customer).. Answer all the Questions on Grey areas publicly. Make good product .. and Sell it without much of advertisement and Directly to Users .. Make this Left-Right thing bit flexible .. and Create positive awareness about this business in Press/Media/Advertisement.


Note:
I neither recommend to join or refuse to join any of the MLM business. I just wanted to share my thoughts on this.

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