I have a good friend who has been in sales for his entire career. Now, his type of business has always been business to business so when he sells, he sells to people who understand business. You don’t have to necessarily educate people so much. In our conversations he has given me a lot of great concepts that have helped me understand what being a successful business person is all about and how to do it professionally.

One of the concepts he talked to me about one day was the two sides of the “Word of Mouth” referral effect in business.

He worked in a popular restaurant here in town when we were in school growing up.

He said that for every person who eats at your restaurant who had a positive experience will go out and tell 1 person about it. But, but those who had a negative experience, each customer will tell on average 11 other people about that. Imagine, the effect of word of mouth referrals based on one experience is 11 times more powerful when they have a negative experience. So, while getting good word of mouth referrals is great, the damage a bad experience can do to business with a single visit is far worse.

The lady who cuts my hair is a prime example. She not only told me about an experience she had at a local restaurant but also has talked about it on numerous occasions ever since. Now, this wouldn’t be such a big deal, but it is one of my favorite restaurants. I go there often. Never mind that she went on Sunday, after church, when they are always ridiculously busy, with a large number of people. They had to wait to get seated. It took forever to get their food. Their waitress was inexperienced, slow and not particularly nice. Even though I have been there multiple times and had none of these issues, I can’t tell her any different about the place. That one experience for her ended her ever going to that restaurant again and she probably tells this story to ever customer she has. How is that for “Word of mouth referrals?” Amazing, isn’t it?

That is something to give serious consideration to when working in network marketing because the negative perception in the general public is a very real hindrance to those who want to build a business for themselves. They have to go through all of the negative sentiment that already exists in the world about it.

Anyone who has tried to promote a business mano a mano with others has in all certainty come up against this monster and it is a real barrier. Let us not mince words about it. As marketers we need to address those negative perceptions and not try to wave them off as not existing but rather face the fact that there are good reasons for those negative perceptions simply because of the massive negative word of mouthing that has gone on for years about the business model.

The other problem that is related to this is the fact that you are usually marketing to the general public and they are ignorant of any facts about business in general because most of them are employees. All they have to go on is what they have heard from other uninformed people in the past, and for them, that is far more important because they don’t want to associate themselves with something that people so often vehemently oppose.

Worse even is the effect it has on us. It makes us as marketers reluctant to share our products and opportunities because we don’t want to have anyone perceive of us in a poor light. How are we to enthusiastically promote something if we have in our belief system the accurate perception that it will be met with complete disdain and possibly even ruin our reputation with our friends and family?

The basic problem lies in the perception that the business model of network marketing is one of a few people taking advantage of a lot of people and even though it happens every day in the normal realms of the business to public models, nobody considers that as an issue. Only when people who are used to being employees think that someone else who is equal to them, other employees, have an unfair advantage over them. This peer jealousy and envy are prevalent in the perception of network marketing.

You can argue all you want that these things are unfair, but the fact is, these two issues are the biggest barriers for us who are trying to build a business and who want to help other people build theirs.

Trust in today’s internet landscape and in any kind of marketing really, is a huge issue as well. The fact is that the general public only trusts what they see in television and radio advertising, or when it is from companies that they have heard of or they see on the roads of their streets.

If you can’t buy a product on the shelf in a store or on Amazon, it isn’t a trustworthy product or company. Even if they have heard of it, they don’t trust it because of the years of negative perceptions there are in the marketplace. Companies such as Amway and Herbal Life have been around so long and have had so much bad press that those company’s products are very difficult to sell.

A reputation takes decades to establish and minutes to destroy. This is the elephant in the room that people don’t want to talk about and for the health of our business we must own up to those beliefs and take responsibility for them, even if we have done nothing to cause them.

For me, the number one issue about my success in this business that I think can be one answer to poverty around the world, is not wanting to associate myself with the negative perception that is present in general population and with my friends and family that exists

Be the change you want to see in the world. The solution for us is to be a beacon of truth and good business practices in this business. It means we have to take responsibility for the products and the businesses we choose, the companies that build them, our fellow affiliates and networks and to stop saying that a generally negative perception doesn’t exist. It does. The more we acknowledge it and work to change it, the more successful we can be.

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