The Dozen Deadly Mistakes Sales Directors Make

A national sales director offers more “advice” to sales directors, even though we know that little of it really makes a difference when you’re working in the no-win MLM system. This little gem comes from a Mary Kay national sales director who has been begging her area to increase her personal income for years. She wants to make more in commissions, so she needs her downline to step it up! From her sales director newsletter:

I believe I’ve come up with a TOTAL AREA WHOLESALE number that will take us to DIAMOND CIRCLE (my commissions=$200,000) and INNER CIRCLE ($325,000) Let’s shoot for Diamond Circle this year as a stepping stone WHILE WE BUILD to INNER CIRCLE!!

Then she goes on to detail what her income will be at different area wholesale levels, and what her actual income has been. Have they no shame? This is supposed to be a consultant’s own business, not one in which they worry about whether they’re giving enough money to their upline. But we know this is typical.

The newsletter goes on to tell the sales directors the 12 things they are doing wrong (which are keeping them from making more money for her!) What this listing fails to account for is the fact that the majority of sales directors are working like dogs and still making the equivalent of minimum wage. It is not about the work in MLM. It’s about so many other things… when are they going to acknowledge that??? (Well, never, of course. That would require them to acknowledge that Mary Kay is a pyramid scheme.)

Nonetheless, she says Mary Kay sales directors should avoid these twelve mistakes:

1. You quit working on attitude – affirmations – dream list. I wanted to visit 50 states before I was 50 – people want to be a part of your dream. Think of the animal the Impala; it can jump 20 feet up and 20 feet out; it won’t jump if it can’t see where it will land.

2. You stay small too long.

3. You cut back on personal activity after becoming a Director.

4. Not working on Leadership skills: read John Maxwell books. Your goal is not to make a mini you. Build people up in THEIR strengths. Think servant hood. Pray for wisdom – patience – love – heart stuff. Not for Cadillacs etc.

5. Working with the wrong people. We look at the external factors. She has to bring desire and willingness. We can breathe belief and care into them.

6. Poor time management. Think like a rich person – delegate.

7. Poor money management – in six years her income went up $160,000. Don’t cut the wrong things i.e. Seminar, Career Conference, Retreats! Budget/control your expenses – make more money!

8. Proactive versus Reactive Be the thermostat – not the thermometer.

9. Fuzzy Focus – lack of sustained focus. Three (3) “V” your goals… Visualize – Verbalize – Vitalize. Don’t be jumping from box to box.

10. Don’t Diversify – need to develop your weak areas.

11. Long Pity Parties – regroup – back off – think it through

12. Not thinking enough OR thinking too much!

Is it really that simple? Of course not! MLM relies on constant recruitment of new people, and getting those people to buy big initial inventory packages. The amount of new people you need to meet in order to churn enough of them through the process in order to get a few to sign up is astronomical, and therefore nearly impossible to do consistently.

There is nothing actionable in this advice that will lead a director to success. Just like everything in Mary Kay. They tell you to go out and sell, but they can’t actually give you action items that work on a long-term, consistent basis to generate new customers and recruits.


  1. Lazy Gardens

    This is a bunch of advice that doesn’t say HOW to do what she says you should be doing. As such they are useless platitudes.

    12. Not thinking enough OR thinking too much! So … how do you tell the difference.

    1. raisinberry


      This is how you are manipulated into thinking that your lack of exec income is your own fault. Yep, it is all you, ladies! Think more! No WAIT! Stop thinking! Develop your weak areas! NO! That’s analysis paralysis! Focus! Follow one course until successful! OOPS! You STAYED SMALL TOO LONG! Thing BIGGER, oh crap you jumped to another new box!

      This is 100% bullcrap, platitudes and jargon that is MEANINGLESS duck and cover for an NSD because she has no real information and training to give you. The name of the numbers game is RECRUIT and FRONTLOAD. And you better not have a conscience!

  2. Barbie

    8. Proactive versus Reactive Be the thermostat – not the thermometer.

    Is that a joke? Thermostats don’t predict temperature changes and adjust accordingly. They read the temperature and adjust accordingly.

    1. Azrael Rose

      I -think- she meant that thermostats can control the temperature, you can turn it up or down to be “proactive” about your climate control; thermometers only read the temperature, they can’t change it. It’s still a stupid analogy but it at least makes some vague amount of sense if you squint.

      1. Barbie

        It’s one thing to have a crummy analogy for your training. This gets to a new level of poorly-thought-out by choosing a piece of equipment that is reactive to illustrate being proactive, and specifically not reactive. There are so many other options that would probably get through to more people (than a comparison to a thermostat), and wouldn’t lend themselves to being picked apart.

        I think maybe it gets to me because it reads like she thought it was really clever when she wrote it.

  3. morningstar

    This is not leadership! If you think about it, these 12 items are the personal fears of the NSD. If the NSD would personally work on these 12 items, then she would achieve her goals!?
    MK is restrictive no matter what level you are at. Demeaning others is not about leadership. In the real world this type of stuff drives out the good employees. “The bad drives out the good every time.”
    Who do these people think they are to apply the guilt trip on to others? So dysfunctional, and the women who read this are swept up in the dysfunction, so sad. Free yourself of this thinking if you are lurking here at this site, it doesn’t get any better.

  4. MLM Radar

    Visualize – Verbalize – Vitalize

    How clever. Think it, then name it and claim it. Or blab it and grab it. Because Bee-lieving with conviction will make everything come together in your lap.

    Except that it doesn’t.

  5. ran4fun

    “I believe I’ve come up with a TOTAL AREA WHOLESALE number that will take us to DIAMOND CIRCLE (my commissions=$200,000) and INNER CIRCLE ($325,000) Let’s shoot for Diamond Circle this year as a stepping stone WHILE WE BUILD to INNER CIRCLE!!”
    “Then she goes on to detail what her income will be at different area wholesale levels, and what her actual income has been.”

    Take “us” to diamond (my commission) etc… How de-motivating! Bragging how big her commissions will be if everyone would just work harder! The only women “enriched” by MK are the narcissistic NSDs.

    1. Barbie

      I worked in a bank for a few years, and we had an area manager who thought that telling us all how much he wanted to win that iPad (there was a contest) would make us all more motivated to get credit card applications. The carrot thing doesn’t pan out when you know the carrot is for someone else.

    2. raisinberry

      ran4fun, this is one of the craziest things about Mary Kay. When you are brand new, your senses tell you,”Why are all these women jacked up for HER car?”…
      Then you get indoctrinated, and start to believe the white wash, ” If you help your Director, she helps you, and your people help you and it’s all about women helping women.”

      Only if you become a Director, you are sliced off like the bad end of a potato.
      Sink or swim Baby! All those years of YOU helping the Senior and the NSD dont quite get reinvested in YOU, since, well, I guess you have to “learn” how to survive.

      Anybody starting to really grasp what a load of hypocrisy this is ??

      1. TRACY

        Uggh, the lie about women helping women. In the reality the “help” only flows one way… up the pyramid. And the “help” is in the form of money (disguised as inventory orders… of product that you have little chance of selling at a profit).

        1. Char

          And this holds true for EVERY. SINGLE. MLM.. They are all the same because you are committing the act of MLMing, regardless of the product, in every MLM you join.

          Why don’t people grasp that?

          “Confidence [Wo]Men and the Shadow Pyramid

          The age-old technique of “con men” is to create “confidence” in some otherwise dumb idea by diversion of thought, bait, or force of personality. The victim gets confidence in a bogus plan, and, in exchange, the con man gets your money. MLMers are very high on confidence.

          Since the brain inevitably intrudes itself into the delusion that an MLM could ever work, spirits drop and attitudes go sour. But this depressive state can itself be exploited. As doubts grow when the MLM does not do what recruits were first “con”fidenced to expect, then a further profit can be made keeping the confidence going against all common sense.

          Thus, a parallel or “shadow” pyramid of motivational tapes, seminars, and videos emerges. These are a “must for success,” and recruits are strong-armed into attending, buying, buying, and buying all the more. This motivational “shadow pyramid” further exploits the flagging recruits as they spiral inexorably into oversaturation and failure. The more they fail, the more “help” they need from those who are “successful” above them.

          So, MLMs profit by conning recruits up-front with a “distributorship fee,” and then make further illicit money by “confidencing” these hapless victims as they fail via the “sale” of collateral material.” –

          1. enorth

            “create ‘confidence’ in some otherwise dumb idea”

            I was reading complaints from former Plexus and It Works distributors. In summary, they said:
            – “I had to keep spending to stay a distributor. I finally realized I was spending more than I was making”
            – “No one wanted to buy the products”
            – “It was all about recruiting”

  6. Princess Lea

    If consultants would hop off the hamster wheel and apply these 12 things to their life they’d be a lot more successful. Like, in a regular job or business. Instead they’re pressured against having “stinking thinking” i.e. considering the truth that Mary Kay is a rip off. That’ll just get you shunned by your upline.

  7. Heather

    Number 4 “pray for heart stuff” – even though the point of the NSD’s newsletter is about her commissions and not about “heart stuff”.

    I love how so many MK NSDs and SDs are too lazy to use their words. “Heart stuff” is not a variable to be used in place of what you actually mean.

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