We Need Care, Not an MLM

I am not Roman Catholic, but I am mentally making the sign of the cross right now.

This might make some waves, but it needs to be said loud and clear:

Stop preying on hurting people in their most vulnerable seasons.

I’m looking straight at you, Multi-Level-Marketing Companies.

To head off any misunderstandings or hurt feelings, let me say this: I am not saying that you should never be an MLM representative. While it’s not for me, if selling tea or Tupperware, candles or kitchen gadgets makes you happy, and it’s helping your family’s finances instead of hurting them, then you do you. I might even do some Christmas shopping with you.

What I am talking about is something more sinister. I’m talking about the practice of capitalizing on someone’s pain for profit.

Nutrition shakes/foods, vitamin/supplements, essential oils, and other “health” companies really lend themselves to this. Their mottos are all about helping, but they somehow manage to leave a lot of hurt behind them.

The problem I have with these companies is how they market. They train their people to have an answer for every objection and a testimonial for every hesitant newcomer. They encourage their consultants to push on for the sale no matter what, and to never take “no” for an answer.

But no means no.

We teach our kids this from toddlerhood so they can protect themselves from peer pressure and abuse. No means no.

It does not mean, “Try again more convincingly.”
It does not mean, “Please play on my emotions with an inspiring story about someone just like me.”
It certainly does not mean, “Guilt trip me, and accuse me of being a bad person for saying no.”

But that is what happens.

Some sales people cross the line into emotional abuse. They find someone who is hurting and push on every pain point, hoping that person will be willing to try anything and do anything to make it stop.

I’ve been bullied this way more times than I can count. And so have people that I love.

I get a lot of product suggestions. I invite it, I guess.

I believe that sharing stories is important, so I am very open about my journey with Clinical Depression and Clinical Anxiety. (Yup, two formal diagnoses. I’m a collector. ha-ha) The amount of times I’ve been told how to cure myself is just plain funny. The amount of times I have been told to flush my life-saving medication in favor of a miracle product is just plain sad.

I’m kinda immune to sales pitches at this point. But I wasn’t always. When it came to my kid, I wavered.

I shared last week that one of my children is Autistic. This makes me a special target for MLM sales people. I have heard so many pitches. I have endured so many testimonial videos. They all amount to the same thing: Don’t you love your kid enough to explore every possibility?

In the beginning, I was a pretty good target. I saw my kid struggling with over-simulation and desperately wanted to help. I spent money we didn’t have on things we couldn’t afford. The products I tried did exactly nothing for my son. But it wasn’t all a waste.

Somehow, without even taking them or testing them on myself, these products helped me. They helped me grow a backbone.

I no longer let emotional manipulation sway me. I only take medical advice from highly qualified Pediatricians and therapists. No means no.

Really? You’re not even going to give it a chance?

Trust me, sister. If I gave every product from every company a chance, I would violate Doctor’s orders and go bankrupt three times before Tuesday. No means no.

My friend has a similar story. When a member of her family was hurting, she became a prime target for an essential oils salesperson.

Again, the emotional manipulation came on strong. Her loved one was suffering from sleeplessness, nightmares, and flash-backs of past trauma. Didn’t she love them enough to try every method of alleviating their pain?

The results were the same: a lighter wallet, dashed hopes, and a lesson learned.

To my friends reading this who sell MLM products, I don’t hate you. Please see above; I wanted to make that clear from the start. However, if you’re feeling called out right now, maybe that’s not a bad thing. Ask yourself why.

I believe a lot of caring people get into selling products like this because they really do want to help people. Unfortunately, their companies feed them lines and tell them how to respond at every turn, until they stop thinking about the individual, only the script.

Please don’t be this person.

Two weeks ago, I talked about how hurting people crave care, not advice. This includes product advice. If you’re a direct salesperson, you have a chance to extend care to your hurting friends even after the possibility of a sale is gone–especially after the possibility of a sale is gone.

Please be that person.

© 2021 Ashley Lilley – First time commenting? Please read my Comment Policy.

3 thoughts on “What Hurting People Need (Part 4)

  1. Excellent Ashley. If people who sell products were as interested in you without the sales pitch and possibility of making money off of you, then you know it is genuine. I even had one lady who sells health products went into my friends list and approached all of them to buy products. I agree. These products take over their lives and their focus. You get a red flag when asking questions causes them to tell you not to challenge their intelligence, or when they delete from your FB list due to challenging their ideas, you know something is wrong. Helping others needs to include actually being there. Listening, and being emotionally supportive is more of what people need.

    Liked by 1 person

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