People May Disappoint You But Numbers Never Lie

Mary Kay sales directors tell their consultants to work the numbers. They say that people may disappoint you, but numbers never lie.

There is a method to the madness, and they know that if you pester enough people to come to a party, sign up to be a consultant, buy an inventory package….. eventually someone will say yes. You might think that’s the way all sales jobs work. Yes, sales jobs rely on working the numbers… but Mary Kay is not so much of a sales job as it is a snow job. Lie, deceive, withhold information…. because if you told women the truth about the company and the opportunity, they’d never sign up!

Here are some interesting numbers put out by one Mary Kay sales director. I have no idea how accurate they are, but they’re interesting nonetheless. If you are recruiting women into Mary Kay, you must remember that you are constantly treading water. (Or as Mary Kay herself put it… you are filling a bathtub with the drain open.) Numbers never lie… the truth is that Mary Kay sucks!

  1. 1/3 of your consultants will order an average of $400; 1/3 are thinking about it; 1/3 are on the way out.
  2. Your unit should recruit a minimum of 15% of its size (exclusive of personal recruits)
  3. Company statistics indicate a new recruit will place an initial order of $1,000
  4. 20% of your unit will generate 80% of your production.
  5. 1% of people are natural leaders: 2% are learned leaders: 97% are followers (it’s OK to be a follower, however, followers seldom become directors)
  6. 3% of your unit is leaders. Calculate 3% of your unit size. Unit of 30 has less than one leader, a unit of 50 has 1.5 leaders and a unit of 100 has 3 leaders.
  7. A consultant will recruit 1 out of 5. A director will recruit 1 out of 3. There is one prospective recruit at every class. Using these figures you can always tell a consultant how many classes she is away from her goal. For ex. Red Jacket she needs 15 classes. Car 60 Classes.
  8. With whom do you spend your time?
  • 45% of your time should be spent with your new people
  • 45% of your time should be spent with key people
  • 10% of your time should be spent with those on their way out

Multi-level marketing is a broken business model. It isn’t a business at all, for there is no real foundation for anyone in Mary Kay. It is simply a pyramid, in which women recruit women who will recruit women. There is no real business behind it, which is why 99% of people in multi-level marketing lose money.


  1. Cindylu

    People want and need: Houses, Cars, Mattresses, Food, Hair Cuts, Shoes, School Supplies, Phones etc. If the real estate agent or restaurant/store lie or misrepresent themselves, then the word gets out and those businesses lose sales. Problem with MK is that they have been floating under the radar of public scrutiny (unlike Amway, Equinox international, Lularoe etc). Unfortunately telemarketing is still being allowed. They focus on their 90% buy back and the supposed dual marketing which is a made up term. Also the other lies: Training is free (it isn’t). Products fly off the shelves, MK is about helping women (No…it’s about front loading, constantly changing the product line and allowing no real way to advertise their products and ensuring the earlier NSD’s and the heirs continue to profit in this mlm. MK can be done successfully part time while raising children. No it can’t. You will be away evenings and weekends from children. Your Open houses will make nothing and your classes will be cancelled or have a pity purchase. MK is not a best selling brand and I’ve never seen it advertised in a main stream glamor magazine. So in this pyramid scheme newcomers or those who’ve hung in there for a decade or two, need to re-evaluate just how costly this mlm actually is. The cost to self esteem, financially, to families and to your morale for constantly having to deceive are a very high price so a few NSD’s and heirs can stay rich. From the first request to bring a guest model (who is simply a number to be targeted) to the seminar fake extravaganza, to the co pay pink cars, the front loading and the fake I stories or prizes. I now have had a real career, with real pay, real promotions, real training paid for and actual real pension. Do yourself listen to your family, gut instinct and other articles about this being a fake mlm which has brought hundreds of women nothing but financial distress and mayhem.

  2. raisinberry

    It should be pointed out that mlm seems to work, sometimes. Which is why you get hooked.

    Using the numbers don’t lie paradigm, it is also true that you can stay in long enough to bump into a “winner” periodically that renews your hope and essentially validates the con. They know this.

    It’s just this: how long are you going to continue to lose money till you gain some back? And when you gain some back, are you telling yourself you have turned a corner, or are you facing the truth that OVERALL you will never do enough to, work enough, achieve enough, sell enough, recruit enough to build a foundation that will not ultimately crumble away.

    Logic 101. You CAN NOT RECRUIT CUSTOMERS, and expect to “build a business” making competitors within your own market. After 50 some years, who is left to sell to? Only family and friends who want to”help” you because you asked them to. And then it is done. You will give up on creating a viable, profitable cosmetics business for a MLM recruiting oriented product based pyramid that tricks other women into the same fate.


    1. Char

      Everything you said raisinberry, and hope you don’t mind if I elaborate a little.

      MLM seems to work “temporarily”, and then the flaws get exposed. Initial pity purchases can account for this which is why you get hooked.

      Another name for a winner, star, etc..? – Someone who endless chain recruits into a pyramid scheme, buys a lot personally, and sells over-priced products to friends and family. Yes, sometimes you are able to find a “winner” aka “good scammer”, but winner sounds better.

  3. BestDecision

    This number doesn’t lie, either: Anyone not in a Cadillac is taking home WAY less than $36,000/year. (Taxes subtracted, but notexpenses.)

    I recently saw that Hobby Lobby is willing to pay people $30,000/year. Teachers and nurses make way more than those people claiming to make an “executive income”.

    Here’s another number that doesn’t lie: Leadership Conference, Seminar, and Career Conference locations and lengths are down. Without digging through old posts that actually state their attendance, we can safely say they’re struggling to sell registrations and fewer are going because they’ve shortened the number of groups going (LC), moved out of the arena (S), and have fewer cities hosting (CC).

    Oh, but just turn your head and continue to drown in your pink blinders. Meanwhile, other brands are ripping past you guys.

    1. MLM Radar

      No and no.

      Why? Because as soon as you go MLM with a product line you tack all the upline commissions into the product price. You then have two choices: cheapen the product or raise the price.

      Either way, you wind up taking a maybe-sellable product and making it nearly impossible for most bottom-line distributors to earn anything at all.

    2. Lazy Gardens

      No – As well as that MLM Radar said ^^^ up there about having to mess with price or quality, a couple of practices that make an MLM be an MLM are unlimited recruiting (the endless chain) combined with no territories (to make it possible for the unlimited recruiting) … which means lots of salespeople falling all over each other.

      Some brands (Piphany, the cousin of LuLaRoe for one) have NO recruiting, no downlines, no teambuilding … but they aren’t limiting numbers of sales reps or screening for ability. They are just a very over-saturated marketing scheme.

      With real territories and limits to corporate recruiting you don’t have an MLM. You have real distributors making real sales to a real customer base, and probably making a real income at it.

      1. MLM Radar

        In the low-wage part of the south where I used to live, the MLMs that seemed to get the most attention were the obscure ones. People I knew who had already failed at an MLM were quick to sign up for a new one when they heard no one in town was selling for Visalus, Prepaid Legal, Beyond Organic, or the one selling wrist and foot magnets, or the one selling MaHuang and non-fluoridated toothpaste.

        “Be the first in town! The market is wide open! Get in now an be at the top of the upline, because if you wait a month you’ll be stuck in the middle!”

        There is a misleading fantasy that if you sign up early the company will place next month’s recruits under you. I was looking for a job and went to a supposed recruiting event that was hiring for “all positions.” I watched this “sign up early” line get pitched to a group by a fat hustler waving rolls of money. I heard the people get told they should do whatever was necessary to come up with the $2,000 buy-in, and I stared in disbelief as I watched them line up to sign the papers to do just that. The fat hustler opened his presentation bragging about how he was at the nearby casino boat the night before playing the high roller table. And as the dreamers lined up to hand him their buy-in money I knew where that wad came from. It made me want to vomit.

        The truth was that each one of the starry-eyed recruits was signed up directly under the hustler, and then lived or died based on the tired old “recruit your family and friends” method. But not a single one of them took time to read the fine print on the papers they signed, because they were in such a big hurry to get to the front of the line. I did, however, see more people leave than get in line, so I know the whole room wasn’t fooled.

        As for me, I sought out the woman who had coolly welcomed me when arrived. In the beginning I was told to hang onto my resume and listen to the presentation first. Afterwards the same woman had a detached blank look on her face as I told her I didn’t want a sales job and couldn’t afford the buy-in. I was looking for one of the other positions they advertised. She told me that everyone starts in sales, and if I didn’t have the $2,000 she was sure I had family or friends who would loan it to me, or I could take it from my 401(k). But I’d better hurry because all those other people were already in ahead of me. She turned her back on me. I walked out, disgusted at them wasting my time.

        No one I ever met later had ever heard of this MLM. I can’t remember it’s name either. One thing the hustler said was true: a major popular investment magazine had done a cover page feature on this MLM’s founder and proclaimed him the head of one of the fastest growing companies in the country. But when phenomenal growth is based on a rotten core, the company collapses faster than it grew. Also, within two years the FDA banned MaHuang (it was a dangerous diet drug).

        It still amazes me that so many rational adults were taken in so easily. Tell them what they want to hear, be personable, make big promises, sound exciting, and the hungry or gullible just line up.

          1. MLM Radar

            Might very well have been. I looked Metabolife up on Wikipedia. The timing is right, (I saw the pitch in 1998-99) and the founder’s name, Michael Ellis, sounds familiar. His twist on the ephedra in his products was that it was natural Chinese herbs: MaHuang. So he was lying about that too. Lesson: Never trust the ingredient list in a bottle or tube of something from an MLM.

            Ellis was subsequently convicted of lying to the FDA about the ephedra in his products, and tax evasion, and spent time in jail. Familiar ground for him since he had a previous conviction and jail time as a meth dealer. It’s curious, though, that the popular finance magazine which promoted his company’s phenomenal growth somehow didn’t mention the previous conviction.

            His MLM filed bankruptcy and was liquidated.
            That’s almost satisfying, except that the starry-eyed distributors who were injured or died by his products got little or nothing for their injury claims. The non-ephedrine “all natural” products got sold to another MLM con man.

            All MLM organizers should suffer the same fate: jail time and bankruptcy.

            1. MLM Radar

              And what irony about his products:
              He sold vitamins of dubious value, and non-fluoridated toothpaste, because fluoride will poison your children (a lie). Then he sells the adults a diet product which he knows maims and kills. What a guy!

            2. Char

              “Ellis was subsequently convicted of lying to the FDA about the ephedra in his products, and tax evasion, and spent time in jail. Familiar ground for him since he had a previous conviction and jail time as a meth dealer”.


              1. Good, honest people don’t start MLM companies – a con game.

              2. Good, honest people aren’t leaders in MLM because it requires deception in order to succeed.

              3. Good, honest people “do” join MLM, and parrot their lying leaders, because they are being conned.

              Do these willing-victims in the last category have enough integrity to get out, now that they know? Or is the lure of acquiring money, by duping others in a con game, just to strong to give up?

    3. Char

      Work for whom? Isn’t that the real question? Everyone comes at it as if they, the consultants, are the MLM company. They aren’t, corporate is.

      Everyone do this exercise. Pretend you are going to start an MLM company. Ask yourself what kind of person you want. Keeping in mind your product isn’t on the shelf and you don’t advertise.

      Do you want a recruiter/buyer, or a seller who pockets her profit? And if you choose recruiters now focused on the opportunity, you will, do you really need expensive ingredients? Probably just good enough, right?

      I could go on, but seriously do the exercise. You’ll see for yourself. In fact, you can plan to start an MLM company, and then find a product. MLMing works quite well for the founders.

      When the product is not driven by an actual retail non-affiliate market, it just becomes a mask to siphon money from those below you. If the product had a bonafide value, they wouldn’t need the MLM opportunity system. It would be on shelves in stores.

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