Sneaky Ways to Sell Mary Kay

Phone Pink.gifOne of the first things I was taught after I started Mary Kay was how to “reconnect” with old friends in order to sell the product. They get you to make a list of “everyone with skin” that you know, so you can start begging them to “help me meet a challenge” or “help me start my business” or some other lame guilt trip.

Once you get through your list of current friends and family, you’re encouraged to think of old friends you haven’t talked to in a while. You call them under the pretense of “reconnecting” (what a great buzz word), but then as soon as they ask what’s new, you launch into your spiel about this great new thing you’re doing (Mary Kay).

From there you try to get them to hold a class with their friends and family, and if they’re foolish enough to do that, you start with the recruiting lines and continue on from there.

Sales directors encourage the use of these types of tactics, which I find sneaky and disingenuous. Sure, they may be nice people and you might be happy that you looked them up again. But if you were honest with yourself, you know that you wouldn’t have had any interest in “reconnecting” if you weren’t trying to pimp some overpriced beauty products. In fact, if you had an interest outside of MK, you would have called them BEFORE you joined!

Other less-than-honest ways Mary Kay parties are booked is via the “Secret Pal” or “Secret Santa” method. You get your hands on a list of names and start calling them with a line about how someone wanted to give them a Secret Pal Pampering Package. Sure, you want to be their pal for monetary reasons, so technically it’s all true. It’s still sneaky, though.

The sales directors encourage you to get your hands on any sort of directory (church, mom’s club, PTA, etc) that will list names and numbers and start making the calls. I hate how they encourage this sort of dishonesty. And yes, I feel that this method is dishonest. Even though you can technically say you told the truth, in your heart you know that you created a false situation in order to lure someone into having a party. That’s dishonest, and in your heart you know it.

No discussion of sneaky tactics would be complete without mentioning “warm chattering,” a favorite Mary Kay ruse. Included in this is offering a supposedly sincere compliment to someone in order to start a conversation that will quickly lead to mentioning Mary Kay. It’s the equivalent of stalking people in public to badger them (even if it is ever-so-subtle) about liptstick.

Now… I get the concept of “networking.” I’ve done it to build my personal business. But I’ve done it in a genuine way, not with these tricky little methods.  I haven’t contacted anyone to pretend to “reconnect.” I’ve told people about my company in the context of a legitimate, genuine conversation… not because I want to recruit them or sell them something.

These tactics in the context of Mary Kay are so insincere. And if you doubt that… Just remember that one of the key teachings in Mary Kay is “work the numbers.” Have you been told: “Some will, some won’t, who’s next!”??? These things demonstrate how the goal of Mary Kay isn’t sincere interaction with women. It’s about playing a numbers game and moving on to the next person with skin who might be interested.

Share your favorite sneaky Mary Kay selling or recruiting strategy!


  1. Janie

    It’s how I first learned of Mary Kay. As a new bride I went to our local bridal show. Well needless to say I received a call saying I had “won” a beauty session. Go to find out it’s just a silly MK class. There was no “winner” they called every single person who put their card in that bucket. Almost signed an agreement bs k then but my mom convinced me to wait.

  2. Iescaped

    This is where the lies first start in Mary Kay. But most don’t realize this in the beginning. When you are first talking with your potential recruiter, she will tell you anything and everything to get you to sign up.

    Shy, afraid to talk to people? No problem! These products are so well known that customers will come to you! Not the “sales type”? We have that covered, the products sell themselves! Don’t have many friends and family members? Well, friends and family members will only take you so far in your business, plus with the great MK website and a Star Consultant (whatever that means to the newbie) the Company will send you leads!! Because women all over the country are dying for you to start your MK business!!

    What starts to happen after you join and buy inventory is completely different. First off, you are told to sell to friends and family members! In fact, they are the ones you should count on for your first parties and referrals!!

    Then you are told about the infamous numbers game (sorry if you’re shy!). Usually only 1 in 5 will have a class or facial. Not bad, until you find out that you have to approach at least 20 to get to the 5 that will even talk to you.

    But still you are not doing all the math and 20 doesn’t sound too bad. But wait, that is for the HOPE of one saying yes! If you want to try to have 4-5 classes per month (which MK describes as some extra money), you will more than likely need to approach 80-100 people!!!

    What!!!! Did anyone here that when they were buying the starter kit and inventory? I think not.

    1. Lyss

      I agree completely. I signed up only to get the discount but then my Mk Director kept harassing me about parties and the sign up deals. I finally had to put an end to her constant badgering and intrusive behavior. I do like some of the MK products so I thought why not sign up and get them half off. I had no idea what I was really signing up for. It was not even worth it at that point.

  3. mlank64

    I was relentlessly targeted by the 1st lady of a church I attended in the late 90s. There wasn’t a conversation with this woman that didn’t lead to MK. Her begging and pleading for me to join really started making me feel like picking up a blunt instrument and pummeling her with it. I already had a high paying job with great benefits and did not have a desire to pimp out skin care products. Finally, to get her off my back I decided to join just as a personal user. When she found out that I worked with over 250 people and many were MDs, Psychologist, Speech and Language specialist etc..she just about lost her mind because all she thought about were dollar signs and potential recruits. Ultimately, I had returned all my products and quit, and finally had to basically tell her to go “f…herself because she was an obnoxious woman and was getting on everyone’s last nerve in the congregation. Someone in the church finally complained to the Pastor about her using the church as a means to climb the MK ladder. He didn’t take kindly to his wife being accused of being the obnoxious bi…ch that she was and they both left soon after and relocated to Indianapolis. I recently looked her up on facebook and couldn’t believe that she’s still a regular sales director, not even a senior sales director. Funny, I would have thought that close to 20 years with MK she would be at least a “future executive sales director” or some ish ready to leap to national. Wasn’t this a career you can give yourself a promotion???? and with all her heavy recruiting she would be much higher up the career ladder than where she left back in 1996. I say all this because there’s really no end to what these women will do to recruit. We know that religious organizations like churches are breeding grounds for MK to prey on unsuspecting women. The one place you should be able have peace and seek a spiritual connection…you end up hiding and ducking between the pews from a woman who won’t stop trying to recruit you so she can slime her way up to obtaining a pink car. After all this I still ended up joining again as a full consultant in 2010 despite the fact I returned my products in the late 1990s. Thank goodness for this blog…the scales fell off and my eyes were open to the complete BS that is MK.

  4. ruth

    Ouch! This happened about 6 weeks ago. A young woman I mentored 5 years ago contacted me, said she wanted to drive out to visit me with her new mentor, not mentioning that i was being set up for buying and selling MK. I was so hurt when it hit me that I was just a $ to them. I thought she sincerely wanted to visit me but no, just my pocketbook. Very painful as I trusted her to be just as transparent with me today as she had been in years past. I’m not blind though to the pressure her upline put on her to contact every living soul she’d ever met especially the softies and hit them up.

  5. BartheDoor

    My pink loving friend offered to do the makeup for a mutual friend’s wedding. The bride was enthusiastic. She doesn’t use Mary Kay and she thought this would be a good time to try the products and see what she thought. She said she’d pay for the makeup application and products that were used on her and her bridesmaids, but she did not want it to turn into a party, as her friends were not interested in MK and she didn’t want to have the pressure on anyone to join MK. She just wanted a relaxing pampering session for her bridesmaids. Our pink loving friend agreed that it would just be a makeup test run.

    They had a practice run a week before the wedding, and my friend turned it into a skincare class, complete with an I-Story and a talk about how she was on target to be driving free cars the rest of her life and how all the women in the room could do the same if they were willing to take a chance and believe in themselves and the plan our Heavenly Father had for us. She had her SD there, who tried to recruit the bride, the bridesmaids, even the 70 year old mother of the bride! A couple of the bridesmaids left and said they’d go to Bobbi Brown. She didn’t even apply the makeup and skin care line.She “showed” the bridesmaids and the bride how to do it themselves. Needless to say, the bride opted to have a makeup artist come instead.

    Our friend was really hurt and offended, so she told the bride off. The bride told her off right back, and pointed out that every social gathering, every wedding, every baby shower, even a wake after a funeral, was something that was being used to try to suck more people into MK. It was so bad that the school our Pink friend’s kids attended banned her from using silent auctions to drum up business. They wouldn’t take her makeover packages and free products as donations anymore after someone complained about the attempts to recruit her to sell for the company.

    The argument with the bride didn’t stop our friend from leaving goodies bags in the ladies room at the reception site anyway. She warm chatted her way through the reception and was handing out business cards to anyone who would take them too.

    1. Oh my! If one of my friends pulled something like that at my wedding, I would have become a bridezilla of epic proportions. It’s bad enough that your kaybot friend bait-and-switched the wedding party about doing the makeup, resulting in the added expense and stress of having to find an MUA at the last minute. Rather than take the hint and either cut off the pink air supply for a few hours or leave the event all together, she had the gall to stick around and trawl for more victims to scam.

      And she even pulled this crap at a funeral?! Bad taste aside, how disrespectful towards the family of the deceased!

      1. Still Breaking The Basic

        Thats what consultants in my unit do. Stalk the emergency room, the chemo unit and go through the obituaries under the pretext of offering a free pampering session during a difficult time. It is disgusting.

        1. Lazier Than Dirt

          I heard of someone checking out obituaries so they could tell their boss they were attending a funeral, but really, they were just getting out of work. The actual people affected by the funeral would be none the wiser. It would be buddy’s funeral if he boss actually was going to that particular funeral.

  6. Lazy Gardens

    One of the first things I was taught after I started any MLM was how to “reconnect” with old friends in order to sell the product.

    And that’s why I view any attempts to “reconnect” with me with extreme suspicion. Because odds are that they are going through their old HS annual and searching the net for current contact info.

    1. Not a bot

      I hear you. I would be very suspicious if somebody suddenly wanted to ‘reconnect’ (especially if this person was somebody I was not particularly close to in the first place). If the person brings up MK or any other MLM or ‘business opportunity’, then I would bail. I imagine almost everybody would see through such an attempt to ‘reconnect’ and would feel angry and used.

  7. Danie

    This happened to me a few years ago….an old so called friend/wannabe MK Director called me. Her voicemail was so over the top sugary sweet, in other words…FAKE. She was telling me she wanted to catch up, reconnect, “it’s been so long” etc….I’m thinking in my head…”BS!”. Needless to say….I never called back.

  8. morningstar

    Looking at this picture you can see that the tactics here represent the super narrow selling routes that are stated in the consultant agreement. Over the years, (since early 1990’s) I always thought MK corporate would tailor the sales of the product to reflect changes in our society. MK has barely kept up with internet introduction being late in the game and restrictive. Social media again, escapes the masterminds at corporate. Then it truly dawned on me, the MK game is money coming into the NSD lineup, and the corporate men who run the place. It took the introduction of the grandchild Ryan (circa 2006), the elevation of him to the recruits at seminar as a superstar to open my eyes. He had smarmy charm and little in the noggin to run the company. I was at seminar dinner and my director told me we are celebrating Ryan’s BD today and she just wanted to tell me that so I would not think they were celebrating MY birthday (which is on the same day as Ryan’s) and get excited at attention because it was NOT for me. Being an adult, this was uncalled for (by the SD) as I can discern what is going on in a room full of people. She was afraid I would state out loud it was my BD too, of which I had no intention. This is when I said to myself. I am done with this company today! Back to topic, I am in aerospace work used to performing men and women and was amazed at MK still locked in step, not in any way interested in a product they produce or the workforce advancement. So the wonder is how much bleeding can MK take before, they sell it, close it? The erosion of MK is picking up speed, and to the person thinking of joining MK to advance themselves is walking into a failing company that is on “the take” at the top.

  9. pinkfreesince2015

    Let’s talk about the sneaky way they (MK Consultants) are selling today. The newest post is comparing the urban decay vault 2 that retails for $165. Consultants are making it sound like one pallet is $165, when in fact this is not the case. It is 2 cases of 6 eyeshadows and 4 cases of 12. Bringing the total to 60 shadows. Consultants are comparing the price of savings $65 (including compact and shadows for MK) vs $165 for 6 collections.

    Let’s just focus on shadows:

    Mary Kay $48/6 shadows brings each price to $8.00

    Urban Decay $165/60 shadows brings the price to $2.75….

    Gee which one has the greater savings….

  10. Cindylu

    Decades ago MK herself came up with these sad scripts for bored housewives. Fast forward to 2015 and the same tired methods for selling and recruiting are still being used. Unfortunately women now have many better options than this pink cult. It is impossible to sell these products when the competition in cosmetics has increased exponentially. Not a day goes by when I am not reading about a new celebrity starting yet another make up or beauty line. Also more and more women are being warned about the excessive amount of chemicals in many make up brands. Even my young daughter in her stroller sensed that the warm chattering I could not quite master was not a real job. I probably would have done better had I panhandled on the streets. Watching my SD and worst, my NSD I saw pure evil. I saw my NSD who began her career early on and she was hard as nails. I heard whining from the NSD about building and losing units. No wonder when she was such a cold hearted woman focused on herself. No worries for now though as she has retired as one of the few who will receive a huge pension for life. Hopefully she is also paying her fair share of taxes. Also will be interesting to see what happens to her illustrious career when MK fails and shuts down permanently. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see the numbers game played, leave those at the top with no pension or far less than they counted on. Also no seminar to brag about how they made it to the top (yes of course when no one knew about the scam across the world). After all these NSD’s are not family, so if the company folds, wonder if the first to lose out will be these NSD’s who ruined the lives of hundreds of women.

  11. contemplating

    I hate communication training calls. So fake. I started referring to them as career chats because at least it was honest. After 2 recruits, I woke up and said noway am I living my life this way. When I told my SD that was not recruiting and I would hold chats on my own if someone was interested, she said icwas not ready for that. I contacted MKC today for my buyback form. I’ve been in for 8 months. Embarrassed to say that I too have debt (thank goodness it’s to myself.) I’m a smart well educated woman who manages my money well, how did I get sucked into this? I honestly enjoyed holding skin care parties because I am genuine and I care about other people.

  12. My experience with MK has been pretty minimal, thankfully, but I’m no stranger to the warm chatting. One of my former colleagues at my previous job was always trying to recruit me to work for Amway. Having a normal conversation with him was like pulling a well-rooted tooth cuz he would always turn the subject towards Amway, the crap they peddled, and how much money he was making!

    Interestingly enough, the first place I encountered the “reconnect” tactic was at Vector Marketing, another scammy MLM. They emphasized going through your friends and family too, including those on social media. It just screamed desperate and disingenuous, which was one of the reasons I passed on the job. I refuse to use my friends and family as a guinea pig to sell overpriced garbage

  13. Ja9marie

    My children took me out for Mother’s Day and there were ladies at the restaurant passing out long stem roses to all the mothers. I thought it was something the restaurant staff was doing, until I was prompted to enter my name in for a free facial and given a Mary Kay business card. UGH!

    1. PT Lurker

      Yes! This just happened to me last Friday night. My husband and I pulled up to a restaurant, saw several people outside, so I ran in to check on the wait time. Before I could get in the door, I was approached by 3 young ladies. One said “it’s ladies night, we’re giving away free roses and you can enter to win a free pampering session.” I quickly went inside after telling them I needed to check on the wait time first (which there was no wait) and avoided them when I came back out. After my husband and came back, they were no longer handing out roses but dividing up their leads amongst themselves before they left.

      1. BestDecision

        Same happened here! 2 ladies got way too close and said it was Customer Appreciation Day, yet they never said they were with MK. One of my friends fell for it and was hounded by them afterwards. She was quick to tell them to back off and act like they never had her number.

  14. this girl in the city

    I recently had a really good former friend call me and facebook private message me like this to sell me roden & fields.
    I thought it was pretty sweet that she was reaching out when I received a voicemail at 10am..and really sweet that she followed up with a private message. AND THEN…the facebook message trying to sell me R&F. yea..she didn’t “miss” me.
    I sent a no thank you, not interested message back and funny – she has never called me again.

  15. Candice

    I joined mk, what’s so funny everything they teach u to do, I don’t do. I send open random text and FB msg,if you wanna purchase u can if u don’t that’s fine to. I don’t approach ppl. I don’t wanna reach out to someone I haven’t talked to in ages over MK that’s some phony bs. I don’t wanna recruit people I just want to sell a little product get a little discount, hell I’ve only been to one meeting I don’t even feel comfortable there lol

  16. Victoria

    I’ve been around MK the company since the 90’s when MKA was alive. MKA (God Bless Her Soul) was a very strong Christian Woman, who really cared for people; especially women. She created the opportunity for women to grow to great potential. She taught women how to work hard without any manipulations or deceptions. If you have watched any of her speeches you will not see her teaching the things that I am reading on this site. If anyone has an example of a video where MKA (the woman) teaches that please reply to my comment with the link, I would like to see it.

    It grieves me that so many of you have been treated so badly by what I see as Corporate America taking over the Legecy of MKA. Corporate America tactics (forget about the little person) has creep into our American culture as a whole. I can say that all SD are not like what I am reading. Yes, you may or may not be able to advance on the fast track, but you still have the opportunity. For those still in the system you need to be the leadership example so we stop abusing and hurting new crops of people.

    1. TRACY

      You’re delusional to think that Mary Kay Ash put the interests of consultants first. MAYBE in the very beginning she set out to help women. And then greed took over, as she realized how easy it was to motivate women to place orders by offering them small trinkets. The company has been corrupt for decades, but has enjoyed a very carefully cultivated positive public persona.

      Yes, all sales directors lie to recruit. Yes, all sales directors get consultants to order inventory they have almost no chance of actually selling for a profit.

      The “opportunity” is complete bullshit. Almost everyone loses money in MLM. It’s time to stop pretending that MLM is a business, and recognize it for the scam that it is.

      1. MaryKay Ate My Sister


        I have tried to ignore for many, many years the negative impact MK has had on me personally and all of the people in my NSD sister’s world, including her children and her ex-husbands. It wasn’t until I found this site, that I was able to connect the dots of lies, justifications, buffoonery, greed and ego that created the web that literally encapsulated my eldest sister.

        Frankly, I ignored it for many years and tried to communicate with my sibling with respect, while turning a blind eye to her oversized megalomania. It just (re)dawned on me that she despised me but would use any tactic to use my connections to claw her way further to the top. We haven’t been in contact in 3 years, yet she just reached out to me to see if I would have my partner look at an ad she had placed in the NY Times.

        In 2000, she asked if she could come to the UK with me to pursue contacts to a then boyfriend’s family and friends – though it was just months before she was hideously rude to him at my parent’s home.

        Anything to scale the ladder. I honestly wonder if we truly are related. She has all inner workings of a cyclopes. I pray for her, I pity her, my Priest says I should forgive her, which I have, but I won’t forget her pettiness or the damage she has done to her precious children and those that tried to co-exist in her pink bubble.

        1. BestDecision

          I don’t want to minimize the fact the we all had a choice of abusing relationships to get ahead in MK, but I do also want to add that the sales force and MK corporate staff are extremely convincing to do so. We were in inundated with stories of how 1 relationship led someone to a new unit member who then led them to meeting someone who became a very successful Offspring Director. We were scolded for NOT reaching out to everyone “we knew who has skin”. We were humiliated regularly at events for not meeting a goal and often compared by our mentors to those who had achieved something big.

          While I accept full responsibility for the things I did and did not do (like offering “free” makeup lessons to chemo patients), I also see why I made the mistakes that I did and why so many continue to do so. Our livelihoods depended on it. If we didn’t pursue every person in our path, our income would/could drop. It’s the same challenge I think every person in sales faces, but MK is very high pressure to not let 1 person slip by. I drove pink Cadillacs and wore diamond bar pins, but I never cheated, stole customers, or faked a relationship to get ahead. So, I know it’s possible to build success in MK without selling your soul, but it’s awfully hard.

    2. Still Breaking The Basic

      “For those still in the system you need to be the leadership example so we stop abusing and hurting new crops of people.”

      Really? Who are you kidding?

      I was a personal use consultant (PUC) for 15 years because my mother loved their skin care. After doing a lot of research and number-crunching, I was honest and up-front with my director about my motivation. She was respectful about my decision and never pushed the inventory and business on me. Aside from being included in the unit’s email which I sent to “junk”, I can honestly say that she left me alone including no phone calls. My mother was grateful because she really liked and used the skin care products as she was allergic to so much other stuff out there but she could not tolerate the MK scripts.

      It all changed last year when she called me and asked me if she could put me under a second-line DIQ. I told her it was fine as long as she also respected my decision and left me alone. Well that lasted two months. I started getting phone calls with outrageous voice mail. I called my director and told her what was happening and that I wanted to go back to her, but she said the DIQ needed my production even though it was small.

      The final straw came the last month of DIQ when she wasn’t going to make it. My mother was sick in bed on medication and DIQ scared the living hell out of her with the “you need to order inventory NOW” script. I took mom to the ER because we thought she was having a heart attack but it was high blood pressure compounded by the meds. I called my director, told her what happened and I deactivated. Mom is now using micellar products and is liking them a lot.

      Stop abusing and hurting new crops of people? What do you think my mother is? Collateral damage?

  17. Becky

    I’m so sorry so many feel this way about MK I just recently started as a consultant and I’ve had a great experience I don’t hound people as soon as everyone found out I sell MK they have come to me ! I enjoy what I do it’s not a bad thing if you use your heart like I do .
    So many are saying omg MK is still around oh that’s awesome and they order . It’s not for everyone I guess I even get down at times but I don’t quit I just share the things that I love
    God bless everyone .

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