Few writers/trainers have had a greater, deeper or longer-running impact on how network marketers do business than the man behind the legendary Big Al books, newsletters and seminars. (The first book, Big Al Tells All: Sponsoring Magic, came out in 1985 and is still selling briskly today.) One reason for Big Als consistently huge following is that Tom Schreiter (no, his name is not really Al) knows the business cold, inside and out, hands down. He is a marketing genius and is meticulously methodical in his testing of every strategy he teaches. Networkers know that if Tom tells them something works, its because hes done it, taught it, modeled itand it works. But theres another reason for his following: in a profession all too often larded with generously proportioned egos, Tom is one of the humblest, most self-effacing and just plain genuinely nicest people weve ever met. Hilarious, too. Read carefully: its not always easy to tell when hes pulling your leg. J.D.M.
Tom, what keeps you going after all these years? Why are you still doing this? Still cant quite make the rent?
Yeah, still cant pay that rent.
Youre on the road, what, something like 200 days out of the year?
Well, the kids are all grown, so Ive got a big, empty house. I could watch TV and wait to die. Or, I could go around the world, do some workshops and get to visit all my friends. Let me think which sounds better?
That is a tough one. How big is the house?
(laughs) I enjoy it, because I enjoy traveling.
What does this business look like in Russia, Eastern Europe, all the places you go? Whats it like teaching network marketing on the steppes of Asia?
Its really about the same everywhere. People just want to build a business. Theyre very, very nice, very hospitable. And its just a little bit colder there than it is in Texas.
Youve been in this business for a third of a century; how did you first get here?
Well, thats a really complicated, high-tech story: I answered an ad.
People say, Advertising doesnt work. I say, Okay, fair enough. What can I say? Still, I answered an ad thirty-five years ago, and Im still here.
So how does it feel, being a statistical fluke?
I actually did a survey once on one of our cruises. Out of fifty leaders at our leadership workshop, forty-two had gotten into the business because of somebody they knew. Two came from an Internet company, one from mail order, one from an ad (that was me), and I forget where the other four came from.
The great majority of leaders Ive ever known in this business came in through someone they knewbut not someone they knew all that well.
Thats interesting. I guess thats the question I need to ask next time: how well did you know the person who brought you in?
In all the years Ive known your work, Ive never heard anyone talk about you in the context of your being with a particular company. Are you being discreet, or just forgetful?
Discreet, I guess. I dont remember. Anyway, all my friends are in different companies, so what am I going to say? I dont have favorite companies. I like them all.
Besides, its not a particular company that will make you rich. In every company, there are people who make money and people who are broke. So it doesnt look like the companys the determining factor.
What is the determining factor, then?
Well, its not the economy, because there are peo-ple who are successful and people who are broke in the middle of the same economy, too. And if youre in the same company, then you have the same products and the same comp plan. Gosh, I guess it kind of boils down to you. The variable is you.
People dont like hearing that, because personal responsibility isnt really high on most peoples list of fun things. Its kind of embarrassing when we point that out, and I dont like to embarrass people, so I let them stay delusional.
Youre very kind. You said people are pretty much the same everywhere, but do you see any distinct differences in peoples attitude about thatabout personal responsibilityin other parts of the world?
In some places where they havent had opportunity, some third world countries, theyre pretty excited about having an opportunity. And in some places that are more developed, people come to have more of a social welfare mentality. Its kind of sad, but it happens.
I heard about a seminar you gave recently in Russia or the Ukraine, where people traveled for hours in the cold ?
That was in Kazakhstan. We had about 3,500 people come to hear me talk for three days. In fact, some had traveled three or four days across the country to get there. This was in the middle of winter, so it was something like thirteen below zero. And when they arrived, the event was held in an outdoor hockey rink. It had a roof, but the wind just whistled right through, all three days. The conditions were pretty miserable.
I rank that right up there with my top been there, done that, probably wont do that one again experiences.
One couldnt imagine people doing anything remotely like that in the States to get to an event.
No, here you have the distributor who cant come to the training because its twenty miles away and, you know, Desperate Housewives is on. Traveling can really put things into perspective.
Here, when people say, This is hard they mean, None of my friends want to join. Different definition of hard.
Right. Hey, I barely have enough money for my cigarettes, lottery tickets and cable TV. How can I afford this product?
Is network marketing a new phenomenon over in Kazakhstan?
No, theyve had it there for a long time. Illegally, of course, but everythings illegal over there, so its no big deal.
Tom, let me pose the question on this issues cover: Ive run out of people to talk to now what?
Ive never had anyone ask that question.
I didnt think you had. But just in case anyone ever does, what would you say? How do you help people get resourceful and go past the limitations they think theyve run up against?
Ill give you two examples.
Lets say you run out of people to talk to, but you only want good prospects. You thought about buying leads, maybe you even bought some leads on the Internet for a dime or a buck or $15, and you discovered that 400 people had already called them earlier. So now youre saying, Who do I talk to?
Lets make a list of who it is you want.
First, lets say you want to find people who hate their jobs, not people who love their jobs. Number two, who would you rather talk to, somebody local you can work with, have a cup of coffee with, meet person-to-person, or somebody whos getting started 3,000 miles away? So lets make sure they are also local.
Lets see what else can we do to make this a really good prospect?
Oh yeah: although they hate their jobs, they do have jobs. They have to have jobs, because if they dont have jobs they dont have money for a kit.
What else? Well, we want this lead to be exclusive to us, of course. We dont want 400 other people to have it.
Heres an idea: to make this prospect even better, were going to find prospects who will even tell us why they hate their jobs.
So, lets review. They have jobs, so they can pay for a kit. They hate their jobs, so theyll be interested. Theyre local, so we can work with them. Theyre going to be exclusive to us and are even going to tell us why they hate their jobs and why theyre motivated.
So, John, how much would you pay for that lead?
Gosh, Id pay good money for a lead like that.
When I paint this picture for a group, most people think $10 would be too much. I negotiate it down to $5. When I get down to $1, most of them raise their hand. So I offer it to them for 25¢.
At a quarter per lead, a lot of people go all out and say, Ill buy three!
So I tell the group, Okay, how about a nickel?
For a nickel each, would you buy three of these leads, John?
Well, Id have to check my finances first, but probably, yes.
You might risk it. You wouldnt ask for a refund if the three didnt work out.
I might even go for four, because hey, thats only 20¢.
Okay, heres how were going to do this.
The easiest place to find people who have jobs is go to a big office building. Just go desk-to-desk. All those people have jobs. Any downside to that, John?
Security might throw us out.
True, that would hurt. So we have to ask ourselves, Where else do these people congregate? Every day at lunch, they come out of their cubicles, run downstairs to the deli, line up and wait five, ten, fifteen minutes for their sandwich, and after they eat their sandwich they go back to work.
So lets go down to the local deli and say to the deli owner, Would it be okay if I give away some free lunches?
He says, Sure, no problem, as long as you pay for them.
I say, Great.
I put up a fishbowl and attach a little sign for my contest entry: Enter here to win a free lunch. When these people walk in to wait in line for their sandwiches, they see this fishbowl and the sign advertising a free lunch.
Who says theres no such thing as a free lunch?
Right! They say, Hey, Ive got nothing to lose. I have to wait five or ten minutes for my sandwich anyway. Sure, Ill enter.
The entry form is simple. It says, Just finish the following sentence to enter, and leave your email address so we can notify you if you won. And the sentence is this:
I hate my job because
At the end of the week, how many people would fill out that form? Lets say, a hundred. Now, I reach in there, draw out a winner, and drum roll John Mann wins the free sandwich!
How much did that free sandwich cost me, John?
Lets say, five bucks.
For five bucks, I have a hundred leads: people who have jobs, who hate their jobs, who are local, who are exclusive to me, and who have even told me why they hate their jobs. How much does that work out per lead?
I believe thats a nickel a lead.
So I send you an email, Dear John, you won a sandwich! But heres the good part: I also now have ninety-nine second-place winners. I can no-tify them they didnt win the sandwichbut they did win a free CD, How to fire your boss and start your own business. So I send them all emails say-ing, If you want the CD, Ill be happy to mail it to you. Just leave your address and phone number.
It gets even better.
Then I say, By the way, youre automatically entered in next weeks contest. And next week, second place is a sample of the product.
These are people that have jobs, hate their jobs, theyre local, theyre exclusive to you, and theyve even told you why they hate their jobsand you now have permission to contact them every week. How hard would that be?
It sounds pretty easy.
It is. And thats one example of what you can do when you run out of people to talk to. May I give another?
Years ago, when I was living in Chicago, I got thinking one day, Man, I need some distributors. I dont have anybody else to talk to.
I knew I wanted to find people with jobs, so they could pay for the kit. I also wanted people who were aggressive and wanted to get ahead on their jobs: they would want to improve their performance, improve themselves, get raises, things like that. I wanted them local, and I wanted them to be exclusive to me.
Then I thought, Would I rather have people who love selling or people who hate selling? I decided to go for love.
Once Id decided who I wanted, all I had to do was figure out where they were.
I went over to Illinois Institute of Technology and checked out their adult education classes. These are night classes, and nobody goes to night classes except people who have jobs during the day, so I figured people who sign up for those classes already had jobs. I also figured they were going to night school, which meant they probably wanted to improve themselves and get ahead on their jobs. They were local; and these leads would be exclusive to me.
Now, which class should I sign up for? Would I want to sign up for basket weaving?
More like basket selling.
Exactly. I signed up for How to Be a Salesman. There was an instructor there teaching the Larry Wilson course on selling, one night a week for six weeks. So once a week for six weeks straight, Im going to learn how to be a better salesman and be around a whole bunch of people who are great leads for my business.
I got five or six people in my downline to join the class, too. I figured at the very least, wed all learn something.
There were forty-two people in the class. At the end of the six weeks, thirty-seven of them were in our downline. It was like shooting fish in a barrel.
Tom, how did you think of these strategies?
I just make a list of the qualities I want and then say, Okay, where am I going to find these?
Typically people just say, I want a list of people who want to join my business. Or, people who might want to join my business. Well, thats pretty general! If you dont know what youre looking for, its a little hard to locate where youre going to find a lot of it.
It sure sounds like a very logical process.
Thats the advantage of being an engineer. Were boring, personality-free, and have lots of time for these things.
I went to your web site [www.FortuneNow.com] before this call and couldnt help noticing that theres no big button to push that says, Learn all about me, Tom Schreiter!
I got thinking one day about how many people really care about my personal life, and it was one. I figured, why put the effort on that one? Besides, then Id have to write copy for it, and thats a major inconvenience.
What do you say when people ask you which works better, approaching your warm market or cold market? Which really works better for most peopleor more accurately, how do they work differently?
Hmm. If I was your brother-in-law, or if I answered an ad on the Internet, wouldnt I still be the same person?
You have a point.
The question is, which one is easier to talk to. It could be either. If you just ran over my dog and stole my car, probably better a cold lead than my brother-in-law.
In the beginning, for most people, its easier to talk to somebody they know, because they will at least be polite enough to give you an opportunity to do a presentation, while a cold lead might not. Later on, when you have more skill, it wouldnt matter either way, would it?
Less and less. Talk with a cold lead for sixty seconds, and theyre not cold anymore.
Thats exactly it. What you really have to do is turn your cold market into your warm market, and then you can talk to them. You can always talk to a warm market person.
Its a big world out there, and there are a lot of great people who could be in your business, have a lot of fun and, yes, even make some money.
So, what do you do when you run out of people to talk to?
Go find more people to talk to.
There are billions of them.