Is Mary Kay About Selling Products or Recruiting?

Written by SuzyQ

Sales directors are continually taught that their job is to bring in new recruits. New recruits mean new inventory purchases and more production means a higher monthly commission check.

For those of you who are laboring under the assumption that directors are taught to be concerned with your customer sales and numbers of classes you are having, it simply isn’t true. They are concerned with your customer list because within that list, potential new unit members can be found. This is why they push you to bring models and guests to the weekly meetings and other events.

Directors are concerned about the quality of women you bring to these success events, and they are not looking for women who do not have any resources (credit cards, cosigners). Women who cannot place initial inventory orders do them no good. The bigger the order, the greater the commission check. This is also why directors admonish you not to discuss inventory options with your new or potential recruit. That is the sales director’s job. They are not inclined to “turn their paycheck over” to you.

At company events sales directors are continually taught that unit size is everything. They sometimes are assigned classes based on our unit size. Those with bigger units are taught retention ploys, those with smaller units are taught recruiting ploys. Star Consultants equal unit club –  20 star consultants in a seminar year equal $200,000 Unit Club. 50 Stars equal $500,000 Unit Club etc etc.

You may have noted that the inventory options worksheet does not include the $225 wholesale order. A $225 order does the sales director little good. You may have also noticed that it is almost impossible for your score anything less than $1,200 inventory on that inventory options sheet! There’s a reason!

“New blood” equals new money. New consultants are the most excited and the most likely to purchase a profit level inventory. “Seasoned Consultants” and their orders are referred to as base production. Directors count on 1/3 of the unit ordering each month. This is base. Directors’ personal orders are also included in the base production amount. Sales directors nearly always order at least $600 wholesale – not because they need that much, but instead to earn a 13% commission on their personal team members’ orders. They count more heavily on new recruits to bring the numbers up and increase the unit production.

Mary Kay sales directors need to replace at least 1/3 of the unit to make forward progress, at least a 20% growth, or they will go backwards. Mary Kay told us that we need to keep the front door open to replace those who are going out the back door. There has also been an analogy to trying to fill a bathtub with the drain open. The attrition rate is breathtaking.

The directors focus on getting you into a red jacket as soon as possible in your career in case you lose interest and decide to quit. We call this recruiting behind you. If you leave, so what. The director still has your recruits. (And their recruits, and their recruits, and their recruits.)

You are offered Pearls of Sharing to inspire your efforts to get the names of those in your immediate circle of friends and family, as they are the most likely people to “help” you. Your director will very often call your models, guests and sometimes, your hostesses, to insure they will attend an event or a class so we can “offer this opportunity” to them. Meetings are designed for recruiting, training and motivation.

So tell me… Is it about selling the products or getting the recruits?


  1. Char

    The encouragement of and ability to endlessly recruit potential customers, to become your sales competition within your small reach territory, is a fundamental flaw. One can only deduce that it is not about selling products.

    The mirror image of that is, why would a “customer” pay double when anyone can join for a nominal fee and pay 50% less. Few will pay double if they’re smart.

    This leads us back to recruiting as a priority by the consultant. And if the consultant has certain monthly ordering requirements to maintain status, she will sell at any price to dump inventory or just place orders and stockpile. But why stay?

    Since we’ve established that reselling at a markup isn’t really probable, how then do we make what we are doing attractive and the recruiting enticing? We call it an “opportunity” and dangle golden carrots – and lie. It is “opportunity selling”. Imagine everyone being sold an opportunity to sell an opportunity. What is that opportunity? Ridiculous really.

    When the core business is opportunity selling, why then should the company spend a lot of money on product development and quality? That would be wasteful since most product buyers, aka the consultants, only care about the “opportunity”. Circling back around, this also means products don’t stand up to real retail market competition. It’s a vicious cycle, but MLM will gladly mince the words for you and make it sound so very yummy.

    The flaw in MLM is really quite obvious when you stop and think.

    Endless-chain recruiting an opportunity is illegal, but throw in some stupid mediocre product to mask the operation, pay off lobbyists, and call it MLM. I continue to watch and wait for justice.

    In the meantime, don’t be a fool and fall for it. It is a fact that 99% lose money in MLM. That other 1% who do make it are guilty of lying their way to the top. Is that you?

    It should be concerning when “Fake it til you make it” is a repeated and revered phrase in MLM. It confirms the lie, doesn’t it?

  2. Pinkiu

    I never understood as a consultant why I was pressured to bring people to meetings or to create a “before and after” photo album…until I found Pink Truth. It was an article such as this one that opened my eyes to my recruiter’s tactics.

  3. Lazy Gardens

    A direct selling promotional site has this as one of its slides …

    “On average, a Direct Seller creates $1600 in personal sales volume (their orders plus their personal customer orders) per year. A team of 100 distributors would create an average of $160,000 in sales per year! In the future, as customer to distributor ratios go up, this average number is expected to go up as well.”

    Unfortunately, the pressure to recruit to advance means the ratio will get worse in the future, not better, as the Canadian experience shows:

    “In 1999, there were over 16,000 members of the independent sales force of Mary Kay Cosmetics Ltd. in Canada.”
    1999: population 30,404,000
    (1,900 people per consultant)

    “In 2009, there were over 29,675 members of the independent sales force of Mary Kay Cosmetics Ltd. in Canada.”
    2009: population 33,894,000
    (1,142 people per consultant )

    The number of consultants increased by 85.5% . The population of Canada did not.

  4. BestDecision

    This college entrance bribery sting reminds me of how many in MK pay to get an invitation, a Red Jacket, a ring, a car, or a trip. In the end, just like with college grades, you have to maintain it or lose it. It’s not just about getting past the finish line, or, like I was told in DIQ, “It doesn’t have to be pretty. Just get there and then fix it.”

    It’s the exact same scenario. Cheating is cheating. The difference is MK will never shut down all of it because it’s revenue for them they can’t afford to lose.

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