Stealth sales tips from a network marketing entrepreneur

In this piece, Cliff Walker shares some tips from one of the toughest sales industries: network marketing.

Are you brave enough to work in sales? I say brave, because there’s no one theory, methodology or science for how to do it successfully. It’s the only profession for which you cannot attain a degree.

The skills needed are attraction, promotion, persuasion, enthusiasm, wit and nurturing, so it’s really down to the raw experience of those with an extensive track record from whom we can learn the valuable lessons.

Entrepreneurs through to call centre operators and managing directors all have to do it at some point. People in network marketing (or direct sales) have a deep understanding of sales, because their jobs go so far beyond what we understand to be ‘selling’.

Working in sales within network marketing is a profession rather than job because there are now too many millionaires across the globe working in the industry who have built extensive careers, many spanning decades, rather than just a stint at hitting a few targets. It’s serious business!

Our evidence of this is the latest Global Direct Selling data which reveals the industry has grown yet again is now worth more than £140 billion per annum with growth recorded in nearly every country. Unofficially, it’s the industry which has created more millionaires than any other.

Who has the sales edge?

I’m going to go out on a limb and say network marketing executives probably have a more advanced understanding and relationship with sales than most others, for one reason. Their products are largely unknown because they’re not advertised.

This makes the job more challenging. It’s true to say you get many different kinds of sales jobs which can range from an outbound call centre role to marketing multimillion dollar yachts, however, there are universal principles which apply throughout.

Therefore, here are stealth sales tips, which can work across almost any industry, yet from the experience of the network marketer:

1. Promote, don’t sell

Science, not sales and marketing, explains this principle best. Something forced will be met with a degree of resistance. When talking to potential customers or stakeholders the narrative should be: Here’s the story I want to tell you…This is what I’m doing…This is what’s been created.

These are the dynamics by which this success has worked. Sales people too often make the mistakes of the ‘buy this now’ high-pressured approach which, more often than not, backfires. Promotion leads to attraction.

If the fit is appealing and relevant, it removes the difficulty from the sales process. You become a solution to their problem rather than an unwanted irritation. In network marketing for example, there are no shortage of stories of people who have started on the same level and have gone on to achieve success.

Tell a memorable story that related to whom you’re speaking to. Show them how they can do the same thing which can bring about the potential result you’re after.

2. Rename rejection to ‘timing’

Thanks, but that’s not for me. We’ve all said it at some point when being offered something we didn’t want. That may well be the case, but if every sales person had to fully absorb that response, they’d be too scared to persevere in their roles.

Listen to the reason as to why the product or service is not right, and reframe it in your mind as ‘that’s not right for me, right now’. People change their minds as their lives, habits and needs move on. Your job is to build a relationship and ensure your presentation is slick enough to be remembered.

What you want to achieve is being thought of when it comes round, at some point in that person’s life, for reconsidering the need for the product and service.

Change your thinking. A waitress in a restaurant may offer you a cup of coffee. Saying ‘no thanks’ in the moment, really means, ‘no thanks right now’. You know when you want that coffee exactly where to get it.

3. Never be desperate

It’s the biggest turn off. Once the presentation has been delivered, be graceful in tuning into the interest and feedback. Being desperate will have a reverse affect. The prospect saying ‘no’ might be so put off, they go to someone else when in deed they do eventually want that product and service.

The way to counter this is to remember to be relevant. The minimum an outbound call centre worker can do is check their records properly as to why the prospect needs the service or product. Those selling higher-valued products and services need to listen to the feedback they receive which often reveals the point of where they can one day add value.

Forging a sense of relevance, comes across as a favour rather than an irritant. As an aside to this, if you’re selling a product or a service you will often have numbers to back up your claims.

If the business is transparent about its operations, and there are credible additional sources beyond its own marketing material to verify its success or impressive track record, simply let the numbers speak for themselves. Numbers presented in a credible way sell themselves.

4. Follow up: The only way to do it

If you’ve established a ‘not right now’ response initially, quite simply ask ‘when might it be good to check in with you about this again?’ If the answer is ‘I don’t know’.

Be proactive and suggest a time in the future. The most important lesson here is to get them to agree to that follow up point, whether you or they have suggested it.

This means it’s their instruction and their wishes being respected. This removes the coldness out of the follow up and gives continuity. ‘When last we met you said I should in get in touch after the summer.’

5. Network: It holds the key to the future

No one expects an outbound telecoms call centre worker to LinkedIn with a prospect (unless they’ve hit it off fantastically). Networking is really vital to any business arrangement. The reason is clear. If someone likes you, they will want to do business with you.

The point of being liked and building a rapport is the world’s oldest social truth. Connect with your prospects on social channels and offline where relevant. Remember what you’ve learnt about their lives, find other appropriate reasons for cropping up (whether it be a shared interest) or something you come across which might add value to their lives.

Having a generosity of spirit is the fundamental basis of relationship building. What can you contribute to that person’s life without expecting anything in return?

That sales prospect may not ever end up needing your product, service or proposition, but they may come across someone who might. If they do, you will be first in mind.

Cliff Walker is a trainer, sales expert, speaker and author.

Further reading on marketing

Ben Lobel

Delphine Hintz

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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