Sneaky MLM Recruiting Tactics

pink-sneaky-mary-kayWritten by The Scribbler

I used to work with a bubbly, perky 20-something in our church nursery. She and I laughed together, chit-chatted together, and I thought it could be the beginnings of a terrific friendship. She invited me out for coffee and said she wanted to get to know me better. “How nice!” I thought.

But in the back of my brain I recalled that she was into MK. When I met this gal for coffee, she was decked out in full MK regalia, right down to the shiny black high heels and fashionably tied pink scarf, her bag o’ tricks spread out on the table in front of her.

I sat down, and as I was about to engage in the type of conversation that one would when getting to know a friend, she whips out the Starter Kit Pamphlets.

“Are there any questions you have about Mary Kay?” she chirps with a grin that would rival that of the Joker.

I’m irritated by this, because clearly this whole cafe meeting isn’t about making a new friend after all. I feel betrayed. On the upside of all this, I’ve done my homework, so I figure I’ll see if she faithfully follows her script. Heck, she paid for my java, so I might as well enjoy it.

“I got a question. Doesn’t it bother you to know that in order to reach NSD (her ultimate goal, big shocker there), you have to recruit people along the way?”

She looks at me as if I’d just turned into Satan. “I don’t recruit,” she said quickly.

“You’d have to or you wouldn’t be a Director now,” I replied. I recited the first three ranks of the MK hierarchy and the recruits required for each. “Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think I could sleep at night knowing my ultimate success depended on pulling other people in with me. I mean, what if you’re throwing someone else’s true life dream off course by yanking them into Mary Kay?”

She stared at me a long time before her phone rattled the silence. She quickly accepted the call, covered the receiver, and mouthed to me, “Thanks for coming!”

I left the pamphlets in the same stack she’d arranged them in. Man, talk about an abrupt send-off; you’d think I had the flesh-eating bacteria or something.

Now given all that, when I worked with this lass in the nursery this Sunday, she was NOT the same bubbly, cheery girl she was before I’d gone to coffee with her. She was quite distant, forcing a laugh here and there but for the most part, keeping her distance and not looking me in the eye much. Something was verrry different and for me, it hurt.

Anybody else had that happen to them… had a person in your life you thought was a friend but once the MK Pesticide was introduced (and you told them you weren’t interested/challenged the system) they promptly tossed you aside like a freshly-filled diaper? If so, how did you handle it, or did you handle it at all? Maybe this gal is mad because I called her out on her pink lies, but still, it is a terrible shame to see this happen.

In the years following this encounter, the gal divorced her husband, turned down my invites to her for casual lunches (she would cite “work” as the reason; yay for family/friends second and career third!) and lost her directorship not once, but TWICE. Her mother was also in Mary Kay and was sitting at Senior Sales Director for quite some time, but then got demoted down to entry-level Sales Director (SD). Sounds like the family needs to brush up on their recruiting tactics.


  1. Celina Knippling

    My. Hero. Seriously, this approach wins all the Internets in my book today.

    As for how to treat the fake friends, it hurts and is a total betrayal. It would be like hiring a trusted friend to watch your house and having them try to (or actually do) steal your TV and credit cards because they are addicted to heroin or meth. You can be there if they get clean but you can never trust them and can’t become overly emotionally invested in them as long as they’re in deep with their addiction & not trying to get clean.

  2. MLM Radar

    I’d known my BFF for about 20 years. During the later years she bounced from one MLM to another, always blaming herself. She truly wanted to believe.

    She bounced back into Team National for the third or fourth time. I knew what was up because she had made sideways references to attending a conference near where I live now, but she wouldn’t be stopping in to see me. Then she tried (again) to get me to sign up.

    I went to the Team National website while I was on the phone with her, and read her the pitiful numbers from their Earnings Expectation disclosure. I even had the absolute nerve to tell her that her chances of making any real money were about zero, and reminder her that this had never worked for her before.

    She then told me I was just a big source of discouragement and she didn’t want to talk to me. I didn’t hear from her for several months after that, and then only after she had given up on Team National again.

    This was a woman I use to talk to weekly or more often, a woman I called “better than a sister.” But when she was pushing an MLM it was crickets for long periods, or awkward calls always avoiding the purple gorilla between us.

    Sadly, our friendship didn’t survive.

    1. Renay

      Out of curiosity, what do these “warm chatters” (or their directors) say if one’s response is, “You seem like a really nice person but I think Mary Kay is garbage and I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing that hideous overpriced crap, let alone ever in a million years actually tell one of my friends that I was selling this hideous makeup.”

  3. PinkyTuskMascara

    I have three horrible experiences with Mary Kay huns.

    First, I was a new mom, and all my friends were too – we met at a prenatal exercise group and our babies are about 3 months old. We get together for a girls night – my friend wants to support her neighbours new business and thinks we can all use some pampering. As a new mom, this sounds good to me. We do the crappy DIY ‘facial’ and oooooh my friend gets to do ‘glamor’ (that means she got to put on makeup after her fake facial). After, the hard sell comes. I try to order some lipstick and mascara, but the MK lady says she can’t sell glamor unless I buy the skin care. What? Why? So she trys to sell me a 5 step skin care line. I would never in a million years use 5 things before putting on my make up – I have a 3 month old, I don’t have time for that. I tell her, well, I’d only use two of the products. My friend says, hey, I can use the other 3, let’s split it. She says no. She can’t do that. But she will allow me to buy the make-up after all. No one else bought anything. The next day my friend and I get together, she told me her MK friend was very upset that we were all ‘cheap or broke’ and did she have any friends that could actually ‘afford’ her products. Wow. How insulting. BTW, we all had the money to spend, we just didn’t think it was what we wanted or needed.

    Second, I had moved to a new state. It was beyond difficult to find people to friend here. Just so different than where I lived. I had a breakdown – hospitalized. Got out, joined a support group. Met a really great friend there – ‘Linda’ – we become fast friends, go everywhere. We go to lunch she compliments the waitress about her skin, then says she sells Mary Kay, gives her card. When the waitress leaves she is beaming at me ‘See, I warm chatted her. I give her a compliment and then she wants to know about my company. Isn’t that easy? Don’t you want to do that?’ – NO! I’m horrified she’s so shallow and desperate, but I politely tell her no. A week or so later, she invites me to a special award night – she’s excited… can I come to cheer her on. I’m so excited for her, of course. I go. It’s a sales pitch. Once I got there, she and all the consultants went out to a special meeting (never saw her get an award) and the duped guests were treated to a hard sell on the opportunity. I told her on the ride back that I am NOT interested. Look, I just got out of the hospital, I need to get myself together, I just want to raise my son and work on my marriage and new home. Okay, she says… two weeks later, she calls up ‘What are you doing?’ I reply I am baking…. come have some coffee cake with me! She gets excited… an hour later she’s at my door, dressed up with stockings, heels, dress and says her ‘friend’ is going to join us. What? What friend? I dont’ know anyone else. You guessed it – it’s her director – another hard sell. I was sooooo pissed and hurt. I thought we’d be great friends… I was just a mark.

    Third, I own a legitimate small business. I employ three people. I do networking in my community. Mary Kay bots are everywhere, but one in particular was not a recruiting demon and so we become friendly. I love lipstick. She had a sale. So I buy some. She drops them by my office. She eyes my new hire, a girl about 23 years old. She introduces herself and chats her up. The girl says she’d love a facial (I wanted to warn her that it’s not really a facial, but no time). The woman goes to her car and comes back and STARTS a ‘facial’ on my employee (remember, she’s on MY clock). So I try to be nice and let it happen, but then…. She starts trying to recruit MY NEW HIRE in front of me, telling her this job will never pay her bills but MK will. GET OUT. I can’t even look at this woman when I see her around. So wrong.

    These women are so full of themselves – they are just awful, soulless people.

  4. Pink Warrior

    Just sounds to me like you are a mean a spiteful person! She is living her dream maybe it is not yours, if you would have come to here with a different attitude, by just saying you are not interested. It could have turned into a nice friendly coffee… but no, go right for the throat!

    1. TRACY

      You’re delusional. Nothing in this article sounds spiteful or mean. And I’m happy to report that in real life The Scribbler is the furthest thing from mean and spiteful that you’d ever meet.

    2. Priscilla Miller

      How is hawking cosmetics in an MLM “living a dream”? Are you serious?
      Where did you fail in life to wind up selling Mary Kay?
      Oh and have fun with the credit card debt and garage full of inventory that you can’t get rid of!!

  5. Janelle

    I was friendly with a girl for a couple years. I was a single mom at the time and one day she called me about joining MK. Note, she had been doing it for a while and was (and still is, actually) very successful. She’s a Sr. Sales Director and has earned many a car.

    She roped me in. She sounded so sincere, like she really cared for me and my being able to support my child, and of course she threw God into the mix, so I believed her. Ordered the $600 kit, went to meetings, did everything I was told to do, and it just didn’t work out. I was a little peeved to find out that there were things she hadn’t told me about it (like if someone ordered something that I didn’t have, I would have to pay for it myself and get reimbursed). So after a while I told her it just wasn’t working and I wasn’t going to do it anymore.

    That was it – never heard from her again. I looked her up on FB recently to see what she was doing and I wasn’t too surprised to see that she’s divorced now. I often wondered how her husband put up with the nonsense. I must have shown up on her “People You May Know” on FB, since she suddenly sent me an invitation in LinkedIn. It’s been more than 10 years since we spoke so you know she didn’t just randomly think of me. Interesting how she didn’t reach out on FB, though, only through a networking site. I haven’t used LinkedIn in YEARS. I only know because I got an email that she wanted to connect. Mmm hmmm.

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