“Should I lead with the product or the opportunity?”

This may be the single question an upline leader most often hears from those committed to building their network marketing businesses. My answer is, “Neither: lead with the relationship.”

Network marketing is a relationship business. It is the business of meeting the needs of those with whom we are in relationship, a business of putting their needs ahead of ours.

Network marketers often make the mistake of thinking that people are joining your company, or your opportunity, or your comp plan or your company’s products. They aren’t. People join (or don’t join) you.

In choosing whether or not they feel comfortable with you leading them to success in network marketing, people place heavy emphasis upon the support team you have around you to support and develop you and your team. This may be a scary thought, if you are new to this business, or unsure of yourself or unclear as to what you need to offer people. Don’t worry: People don’t care about what you know (or what you have to offer them) until they know that you care.

Don’t spend your time becoming an expert on what your comp plan has to offer or on the science behind your products. Those are features of your business. People are not interested in features; they are interested in themselves. Instead, become an effective listener.

 

Helping Others Feel Heard

To take stock of your effectiveness as a listener, ask (and answer honestly) this question:

“In my conversations with people, is it more important that I’m heard (listened to with respect) or is it more important to me that the person I’m talking with feels heard?”

Note that the salient issue is whether or not the other person felt heard! That is far more important and much more difficult to achieve in your conversations with others than simply acknowledging to yourself that you’ve listened to them. The key is that they feel you’ve heard them, not that you feel you’ve heard them. This often requires that you intuit the essence or spirit of what they are trying to say and help them articulate that back to them in the form of a question: “What I hear you saying is…is that correct?”

Think of times you have tried to convey something that you were feeling to another person, trying to put into words something you were sensing inside but hadn’t yet articulated. It’s difficult, sometimes, isn’t it? Often we don’t know exactly how to convey that which we feel, because we may never have put words to it before.

What if you were able to help someone you were in conversation with develop a sense of what she was feeling inside and to articulate this? To put words to what was in her heart as feelings. Would she feel listened to? Would she sense that you cared about what she had to say? You bet! (Carol McCall’s excellent tape series, “The Empowerment of Listening,” does a beautiful job of describing this process.)

How do you find good quality leads with which to build your business? Here’s an answer to that question I heard from Richard Brooke, in an interview with John Milton Fogg: “Talk to two people a day without an agenda.” If you are really serious about building a significant business, I would take that further, and suggest that you talk to two people a day without an agenda—and one person a day with an
agenda!

 

The ABCs of Prospecting

Tom Schreiter teaches that people want to do business with those they know, like and trust. Where do we find these people? From those we encounter in our everyday lives.

There are three types of people we talk to every day. Sorting through them is a process David Nomchong calls “the ABCs of prospecting.”

The C’s are those who neither know us, like us or trust us.

The B’s are those who either know us or have heard things from others which lead them to put some trust in us.

The A’s are those who know us and trust us.

Our job is to convert the C’s to B’s, the B’s to A’s and then to approach the A’s in a non-intrusive, relationally sensitive manner—in other words, in a way that is straightforward yet honors the relationship above all else.

Here is the approach I’m most comfortable with. Generally, when you ask people how they are or what they’re doing, they will respond and then ask you the same thing. When they do, I’ll share with them something like this:

“I’ve recently gotten involved in something that I’m excited about—and I’m looking for people who might be interested in either doing what I’m doing or taking the product that I’m taking.”

If they have any interest in hearing more, they’ll ask. If they don’t, they won’t. Thus, I let them lead me through whatever they are interested in hearing about, if anything. As I listen to them, my sole objective is to honor the relationship, trusting that as I do this often enough I will naturally come across those who are interested in joining
forces with me, or who will refer me to others who will be interested.

So…do I lead with the product or with the opport-unity?

No.

I lead with the relationship—knowing that if I’m a caring, responsible friend and an effective, intuitive listener, my friends (the A’s) will naturally refer me to those people they would feel comfortable introducing to me, since they know that I honor relationships above all else.

 

BRIAN BUMPAS is an
accomplished network marketing leader. A former realtor who participated in the sale of over $500 million worth of real estate, Brian has built an organization of over 150,000 distributors.