Q: I'm with an MLM company that has been around for about five years and has just established a Web presence. They say they're unique and that by sending a person to your own Web site, he or she will be automatically put in your organization. Is this unique or do other MLM companies have this already?
A: Unique? No. Important? Yes. Technology is rapidly changing the world today, and most of us involved in MLM don't seem to be able to keep up. But many progressive MLM companies are embracing these technologies to directly enhance and accelerate the growth potential of their distributors. In the past, the product and/or the compensation plan was the key to corporate and distributor success stories. Today the design of the company's marketing and support systems combining new technologies to enhance the duplication efforts of the independent distributor is providing an opportunity to build distributor organizations on a national or even worldwide scale right from your home office.
What you're describing is known as the "replicating Web site," and it's been in use for the last two years. It's the latest in a growing list of Internet support tools being provided by most modern MLM companies. Here's how it works:
First, the company develops a corporate Web site that contains the company story, product information, compensation plan strategy and enrollment forms. An opportunity surfer can make a decision to purchase a product or join the company while online and complete the entire transaction without ever talking to a live person. However, MLM companies understand that allowing new recruits to sign on directly with the company bypassing the distributor would violate the basic MLM philosophy of not competing with their own members.
Second, each distributor is offered his or her own personal Web address that's linked directly to the company's more robust Web site. It's just like passing out a brochure with your name and phone number attached- by directing prospects to your personal Web site, they may then link to the company site. This creates a technological relationship that can be recognized by the company for your benefit should the prospect decide to buy products or join the company. You should then be notified of an inquiry or an actual transaction so you can make contact for further support.
Keep in mind that a replicating Web site is usually controlled by the company, and you have little control over content. However, look at it as a sophisticated information package you can give away for free and you'll understand what a tremendous asset this is to your potential success. In my opinion, I wouldn't recommend anyone join a company without this technology.
Now it's possible to build a significant organization without ever setting foot outside your home. In fact, one top distributor I know in Ohio has more than 10,000 people in her downline. She has never attended a company meeting and never met her distributors in person with the few exceptions of those who journey to see her. How is this possible? It seems that companies poised for accelerated growth have a few things in common. They make it easier to communicate the opportunity message through long distance sponsoring, educating and mentoring using modern technologies. These companies look for volume in distributor numbers as well as product sales-and they get it.
Of course, technology can't replace person-to-person communications. People still do business with people, and the more you embrace technology, the harder you should work at building personal relationships with your customers. Many companies are recognizing these opportunities and rushing to be among the first to market. Others are watching intently and will soon follow, if only out of the need to stay competitive. Your company's attitude toward technology will impact your future earning power. As we've heard it said many times in business, "Lead, follow, or get out of the way!"
Michael L. Sheffield is the founder of Sheffield Resource Network, a full-service multilevel marketing consulting firm in Tempe, Arizona. He is also the co-founder and chair of the Multi Level Marketing International Association (MLMIA), whose members represent companies throughout the world.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.