Sales Masters Guild Mentor, Toby Acton, has 19 years of Network Marketing experience under his belt. In this post he reflects on why many Network Marketers fail.

With some 19 years’ experience of network marketing under my belt, I often reflect on the aspect of the industry that attracts the most criticism i.e. the massive failure rate of people entering this business model.

I think it is fair to say that Network Marketing, aka Multilevel Marketing, has changed many lives around the world. It has allowed many ordinary people to make a significant and lasting difference to their life and their families’ lives, in many cases dragging them out of poverty and in others simply giving that “little bit extra”, increasing their disposable income to make life easier and allowing them to save for the nicer things in life.

I think it’s also fair to say, that for some, network marketing clearly works really well. So why do so many not succeed in building a successful income generating business?

Of course, there are many, many reasons why there is such a high failure rate in MLM. Whilst there are some amazing network marketing companies, there are also many with poor products, poor training, poor marketing plan and just plain poor management. And there are many reasons why people in good, viable, well-managed companies do not succeed too, but I’ll focus here on 5 of the main reasons why people fail to build a successful network marketing business:

1. They don’t have a clear vision and a plan for how to get to their goals

Having a clear vision of want you want to achieve is essential in any business, as that allows you to establish what you need to earn and then reverse-engineer your business to deliver it.  The beauty of network marketing is that reverse engineering is generally so simple.  A prescribed marketing plan allows you to work out what size and structure your business needs to be in order to give you a set level of income.

Without a crystal-clear vision of the future you ‘want’, it is very difficult to plan and build the business to give it to you.

2. Network marketers tend to over-complicate things

Business is simple – it is us that complicates it. Network marketing is even more simple as so many have succeeded using a system that works. 

Just like in traditional business, a straightforward systemised approach is always the best way

The basic fundamentals of a good network marketing business, are incredibly simple:

  1. Talk to people (connect with people on the phone, online, in person)
  2. Share information with them (company presentation, audio, video, in person)
  3. Start them as customers or business partners or get referrals from them.

It is those who stick to these basics and do not try to reinvent the wheel that will succeed.  Remember: KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid!

3. They don’t undertake training and courses in marketing and business building

Many people in MLM spend a lot of time learning all about the product or service that they offer but they do not invest the time and money to learn how to market themselves and how to build a business that works.  Again, as in other businesses it is essential to learn how to monetise an area of expertise. So, with MLM it is essential to learn the basic principles of marketing and business skills – just simply “loving the product” is not enough!

4. They don’t do income producing activities

It is very easy to fool ourselves that we are working hard on our network marketing business when we are designing our third new flyer in 6 months, or spamming random messages to random people on Facebook, but people often do these things when they are putting off doing the things that will genuinely build their business and produce income.

This is not unique to MLM of course! Throughout my career I have seen people struggle in business because they get bogged down in “stuff” rather than concentrating on monetising their expertise and producing income.

A good rule is to constantly ask yourself the question posed by Olympic rowing champion, Ben Hunt-Davis: “Will it make the boat go faster?”

5. They don’t build a relationship with their prospects

As with all business, but perhaps more so with network marketing, people buy from people that they like!  That’s another fundamental… People will buy from you if they believe, often on a subconscious level, that you have taken the time to understand them, their pain points and their desires, their goals and their aspirations.  And that can only happen if you have taken the time to get to know them and form a genuine relationship. 

The endless spamming on social media and in the physical world that many amateur network marketers can be guilty of, does very little for their own business and actually does considerable harm to the image of the industry as a whole.

It’s not just network marketing though!

So those are just a few of the main reasons why network marketers fail, even if they are with a good, sound, creditable company.  This list is by no means exhaustive as there are many, many others reasons that I could cite….

The interesting thing is that each and every one of these reasons, and many of the others I could think of, apply equally to “traditional” business – there is nothing unique about MLM!  At the end of the day, business is business and network marketing is simply another business model and inevitably, the rules are just the same.

If you want to succeed in network marketing or any type of business, you’re going to have to adopt a consistent learning mindset, get really clear about what it is that you are reverse engineering and hire a mentor to keep you on the path…


You can find out more about Toby and book onto any of his training courses or Mastermind Peer Groups from his Sales Masters Guild Mentor page.


Toby Acton

Toby Acton

Toby Acton is a Sales Masters Guild Personal Business Mentor.

For more than two decades, Toby has been running his own businesses, with interests in a variety of diverse sectors including IT, market research and property. He has also mentored and trained many hundreds of people on how to build their networking marketing businesses and to develop their personal brand.

Find out more about Toby on his Sales Masters Guild profile page.

Read more blogs from Toby.

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