Facts, opinions, and the real story behind Mary Kay Cosmetics.

Getting Recruits to Order as Much as Possible

Mary Kay Cosmetics is all about the initial inventory order. They know if they don’t get you to buy right away, you almost certainly will never by much. (Mainly because you will quickly see how hard it is to find anyone who wants to buy the products from you!) Here’s one way of squeezing a large order out of a new beauty consultant.

This piece is by retired Mary Kay national sales director Anita Mallory (formerly known as Anita Garrett-Roe). She had a fabulous track record for manipulative scripts, and they’re still in use today, even thought she is long retired. We’ve learned previously how Anita goes about stealing recruits while technically following the rules, why it’s a good thing to have a class with no sales when a new recruit is watching, and a sneaky little technique she calls “backup recruits”.

Today’s lesson is all about getting a big inventory order out of a new recruit. This is something that the do-it-fasters like Dacia Wiegandt call “pulling inventory.”

What I do on the inventory is not to give them a packet to read without me being there. Instead, I like to be there with them to understand their concerns as they think about whether or not to get inventory. If they go through this alone, they may not understand how we sell more by having products on hand at the classes. As Mary Kay said, “You can’t do business from an empty wagon!” It is better for me to be there with them and to guide them through how we think about this.

People do not read everything that we give them. I know you know this from selling our products. Someone still has to make the sale. This is what a professional sales person does, whether it be in real estate or insurance. It is all in the words we use. A professional sales person creates the need and fills it.

Instead, I take the packet to them, and go over it with them in a positive way. I set this appointment up to occur at least one day after the agreement is signed and sent in. I never do it at the same appointment, since I want her to have made some calls and booked some classes before I explain the company specials or inventory. If she is only reading about inventory all by herself and has questions or concerns you don’t know what they are. Her husband does not know about the support we give to her to sell it and also the buy back guarantee. I don’t know of any business you can start for this low of an amount and with a 90% buy back guarantee. Of course, this does not include the starter kit, but she is getting over $300 of product in that case for her personal use and for demonstrating.

So, I get with them, for explaining company specials, so they will know what the company is giving away free right now.

You can explain Star Consultant, the prizes, and show them the ladders.

Then, you show the brochure with the photographs of the various sized orders. I start with the highest order, and they are may feel this is way too big an amount to buy to mark up and sell. But then I flip back to the $600 one and show that one. Then, I flip back to the start of the booklet, show the $3600 order, then the $3000 one and on down back to the $600. With each of these, I write down the dollar amount of what they will get free by adding the categories together. Next to the picture and this total, I write, FREE.

Then, I slowly flip from the $600 to the $1200 to the $1800 order, and pause. I point out how each one is better than the one before it, and why because they will have more things to show at their classes.

The $1800 order is really a decent order since you get all the free things, plus you are a Star Consultant. But the $3600 order is still by far the best way to go because your perfume department is open, your nail care department is open, you spa department is open, your men’s department, well, all of them!

And, THIS is what you get free!! You get the New Consultant Special which is $XX plus the other things from the Applause Magazine of $XX for a grand total of $XX!

Then I say, It doesn’t really matter to me which way you start. It is really up to you. but I like to see people go with at least a Star Consultant order since you get so much more free. Now, most people don’t have a lot of cash lying around, so they put it on a credit card. Mary Kay realizes this, and that is why they are giving you so much free, because when you sell it there is more than enough to pay your interest! It is like having an interest free loan on your credit card. Usually a bank will not do a loan for under $4000, so consultants who use the bank usually start with at least a $3600 order.

For you, which order looks the best for you, do you feel? It doesn’t really matter to me…but it is a good idea to have some inventory to start with….

Then I keep my eyes on the pictures, but WAIT for her to say something. If she says, $600, I don’t say, Yippee! That’s wonderful! Instead, I say, Well, that is an ok order but if you could do just a little bit more, say the $1200 here, that would be so much better for you…, if you can’t go as high as the $1800. Sometimes by saying this, they will upgrade their choice to the $1200, or even sometimes $1800, whereas if I left it alone, all they would order would be the tiny $600 order.

The thing to remember is this: Either they sell YOU or you sell THEM! So, be aware that you may be able to upgrade someone from their first reaction. I have never had anyone tell me later that they wished they had ordered $600 instead of the $1200 or the $1200 instead of an $1800.

There was a time when I only talked about $600 orders, but then someone was disappointed when she realized what she could have gotten free if I had just told her. So, I decided to stop trying to decide for people what they might want to do in the way of inventory. I present the facts and it up to them to decide how they want to start their businesses.

Also, if they say, Gee, I can’t afford it, then YOU say, “How’s your credit because a lot of women just put it on their credit card or take a loan from the bank. Essentially the free product when sold will give you the money to pay the interest, so it is like having an interest free loan! How’s your credit?

If she says, OK, then quite often I will say, “Well, if you were my own sister, I’d tell you to take out a loan and get the $3600 order, because you will be able to start with a complete inventory!”

If she says to the credit question, “Not so good, we had a pickup repossessed last year… you say, well, that’s ok, you can just bloom where you are planted. You can start with just the showcase, but it is better if you can find some money from somewhere to get some inventory. Do you have 9 people who would each lend you $200 each for 6 months, 9 people who believe in you enough for you to start your own business? Or, three people to lend you $600 would be the same, enough to be a Star Consultant, not counting tax.” Sometimes I say, “What about your grandmother, one of your ex-husbands, someone you know…do you have anything you can sell that you don’t want in order to raise the money?” This lets them know I am serious about them getting some inventory, and it puts the responsibility clearly on her shoulders. Do not offer to use your own inventory to help her start because it will make her weak, and she may never order, if she can use you for her warehouse. That is not fair to you. You can say, if she brings it up, “My accountant won’t let me.”

Listen to what she says, and then you know what to say. Because most women don’t have money lying around for this, and they use their credit card or take out a loan from the bank to pay for it. Essentially, the free product when sold means that Mary Kay is paying your interest, so it is an interest free loan!!

Just remember that if you are sure of yourself, they will be too. You either sell them, or they sell you on why it is not possible. If she does not choose to get inventory, she is the one making the choice.

I also mention that Mary Kay knows the women need inventory, but at the same time she realized they were conservative, so that is why we get all the free things, so that makes it seem like our loan is interest free, AND we have a 90% buy back policy. That is wonderful! If something were to happen like a train wreck or quadruplets, you would have a way to send it back and get 90% of your money back, so you can’t lose because of all the free things they are giving you. But the catch is, they will never let you back in the company again if you send back inventory and get out. Instead, if someone is slowing down, they trade with other consultants to get more cleansers, and then have a sale with their customers, and gradually phase out. This way they can come back in again whenever they are ready.

If they are still not sure, keep pedaling. By this I mean that you talk about when she is going to start her first classes, and making her list of who she is going to ask. Confidently talk to her about her going forward with her classes, with or without inventory. But she will get to thinking about how she really needs some merchandise there to sell at her first parties. You will get a call, “I’ve got the money, my husband is giving it to me!”

I know you can successfully guide them to starting with a decent inventory. It is not hard, but I recommend meeting with them like this rather than being passive and handing out a packet. That leaves too much to chance, no matter how well-crafted the words are. You are better off meeting with them than just giving out a packet. She will have questions and you want to be there to answer them.

(I do recommend that at the first visit you coach her and give her a script on how to book her first classes, and also help her select her Kick Off Week for when she is getting started. Don’t let any grass grow under her feet. Plunge her into the business. It is great if she has already set up a couple of classes before you have your inventory talk. You call the inventory talk, “letting her know about the Company Specials and what they are giving away free right now.” IF she has a couple of classes booked, she will clearly realize how convenient it will be to have product on hand to give out.

Obviously, if she is out of town, you have to do this on the phone with her. Also, when I discuss starting her business, I let her know about the Perfect Start and the Power Start.

But then I say, “Our group does something that is a cut above the rest of the Mary Kay world. In our unit, most of the consultants pick out a two week window for kicking off their business, and in this two week period, they book 8 and hold at least 5 beginning classes. It is easier to ask the people you call for a gathering instead of just a private facial. If they say no to the class, you can always just do the facial. It is faster and by holding classes you get the 15 or 30 faces done very quickly and make some quick money. So, I want to challenge you to do the Book 8, Hold 5 in a two week period.

Let’s take a look at the calendar and pick out your two week window. What looks good to you? She will pick something out, and even is she has not made an inventory decision, she is starting her business with or without product. This puts pressure on her to DECIDE about inventory, and you don’t have to keep talking about it. It will be on her mind.

If you wait for her to get her inventory before she starts, she may NEVER get started!! This is why we have people who buy the kit and never get an order in at all. She may feel she can’t do Mary Kay without inventory, which is not true. But it is true that she will sell a lot more if she is offering on the spot delivery.

To prevent this, just get them started with or without inventory. Many times, once they are started, they come up with the money miraculously from grandma or an ex-boyfriend. Who knows. But letting them sit around and think about it doesn’t help you get them started. In any case, your getting them to make those calls on their own is tons better than your doing a Business Debut. A business debut that you or anyone else puts on makes her weaker than she would be if she were to get on the phone and booked her own classes. Better to get her to make those calls herself. Please read my other rticles about the business debuts for clarification.

I do not recommend business debuts!

I know you have what it takes to sell inventory! It is a skill like everything else!!

xxoo Anita

I don’t think consultants really sell more by having inventory. I think it is a longstanding myth that sounds reasonable and is easy to perpetuate. In reality, however, I think women will order what they’ll order. Sure, there may be an occasional extra lipstick sold if you have it on hand. Or maybe one more skin care set here and there. But women have no problem ordering and waiting for delivery, as evidenced by the millions of orders placed each day on the internet (lots of them for cosmetics from places like Sephora, Ulta, and Amazon).

The cost of having inventory on hand far outweighs any benefit. By cost I mean interest on a credit card or cash out of the bank and into inventory. And there is the risk of products expiring or going unsold.

A real business tries to have the smallest amount of inventory on hand, while still being able to adequately service customers. Everyone knows that inventory on the shelf is money tied up.

With modern miracles such as the internet and UPS, consultants can have products to them in a matter of a few days. There’s no need to have “enough for 50 customers” on hand, because if the Mary Kay consultant really had that much activity, she could sell one week and replace that inventory the following week. This would be a better use of her money than having months worth of inventory on hand.

But who ever said that Mary Kay was a real business anyway?


  1. Char

    “I know you have what it takes to sell inventory! It is a skill like everything else!! xxoo Anita” —

    She accidentally omitted a few words and used the wrong pronoun. She meant to write, “I know I have what it takes to sell an inventory package! It is a skill like everything else!!”

    And my, what a skill! That art of manipulation was sure impressive. I’ll bet she “worked hard” to perfect all those lies and half-truths to make them so convincing. Well done.

    Don’t you wish you had her same talent to succeed in this con game? Frankly, I’m not surprised she was a tippy-top scammer, also called an NSD, in her industry. Again, bravo on her success! If you ask me, she deserves you to sit at her feet like any good cult follower would do.

    And, don’t you just dream to be just like her? But, do you have what it takes? Are you prepared to do her type of work? Or, will you be a failure at successfully scamming others? It’s entirely up to you, because that’s the beauty of this business.

    1. Char

      Adding this, in case there was any confusion from lurkers regarding which definition of “business”.

      Business, noun

      3. INFORMAL
      an affair or series of events, typically a scandalous or discreditable one.
      “they must be told about this blackmailing business”

  2. Kristen

    “Do you have 9 people who would each lend you $200 each for 6 months, 9 people who believe in you enough for you to start your own business? “

    Who would the new consultant milk pity purchases from if she drains the warm market up front? Also, what a way to ruin all your relationships by getting in debt with everyone you know. AND who has NINE people who have enough money to shell out 200 a month for this scam? I’m sure they’re not using this line anymore. Too much time to research the truth in those six months.

  3. AnonyMouse

    “…they trade with other consultants…”

    I specifically remember being told NOT to do that, because it messes up the tracking if a customer wants to return a product and you have to go through the process of getting the refund from corporate (because “if you return a product you don’t have to worry about it hurting your consultants income because the refund comes from corporate!”).

    This whole thing nauseates me. It blatantly exposes the culture in MK of your answers never being good enough. They’ll always push you for more, more, more. Your goal is to do this many? That’s too small, that goal doesn’t scare you, here’s the goal you SHOULD have. You want to do the $600 order? That’s not good enough for you, you need to do the $1800 order because you’re going to be so successful! STOP. Stop treating grown women like they are incapable of deciding what’s good for themselves.

  4. NayMKWay

    “Do not offer to use your own inventory to help her start because it will make her weak, and she may never order, if she can use you for her warehouse.”

    Because it will make her weak? Yeah no, that’s not why she may never order. It’s because she’ll learn the stuff doesn’t sell, and placing an order would have been a mistake. (Can Anita please explain how, if borrowing inventory would make her “weak,” why doesn’t borrowing money from friends have the same effect?)

    Then there’s the lame excuse (read: lie) offered up: “My accountant won’t let me.” Huh?

    More lies:

    “You can’t lose.” Sure, you can. You only get back 90%. You have to pay shipping. Discontinued, expired or opened products aren’t returnable, nor are the section 2 items. It can add up to hundreds of dollars in losses.

    “Mary Kay knows the women need inventory…” No, they don’t. What Mary Kay Ash knew was that the consultants were her customers, and that her company’s survival depended primarily on inventory loading.

    “… but at the same time she realized they were conservative, so that is why we get all the free things…” Ri-i-i-ght. It had nothing to do with upselling, it was just Ash being benevolent. Come on.

    This whole thing is so creepy and deceitful. I feel like I need to take a shower.

    1. Mountaineer95

      “What Mary Kay Ash knew was that the consultants were her customers”

      Anita has spent a lot of time putting this very thorough document together. Where is the equally thorough document made to help consultants sell products to actual customers? There isn’t one?

      MK the company and the higher level directors know exactly who the actual MK customer is and intentionally misspell it as “consultant”.

    1. AnonyMouse

      ME TOO. I love being able to go do fun things with my family and not have to later justify to my director why I didn’t try to “warm chatter” anyone while I was there. I love not feeling contempt and disgust when I see people using products other than Mary Kay. I love not constantly having “contests” shoved in my face that I have to use to try to get people to buy from me. I love not going to those damn meetings every week! I love being able to do what I want when I want and not being questioned about why I wasn’t working my Mary Kay business instead. I love it all. Nothing will ever convince me to join another MLM ever again.

    2. Ruby Slippers

      We just got home from eating at a restaurant that I used to carry my basket into and sell to the staff while I was there. Gosh it feels so good to NOT do Mary Kay anymore.

  5. Heather

    “Also, if they say, Gee, I can’t afford it, then YOU say, “How’s your credit because a lot of women just put it on their credit card or take a loan from the bank. Essentially the free product when sold will give you the money to pay the interest, so it is like having an interest free loan! How’s your credit?”

    How’s my credit? I guarantee that it’s better than yours! This always frosted me, even as an SD. I never could use this line. The MK credit card was a scam with insanely high interest rates. If a consultant wanted to use a credit card, I usually pointed them towards their bank or credit union. Getting a signature loan (because that’s what you would need) is almost impossible without income and decent credit. It’s not like any bank is going to give you $4000 to start a “business” like MK since it’s not a legitimate business.

    So yeah, good luck with this.

    1. AnonyMouse

      “How’s your credit?”
      “None of your damn business, that’s how my credit is.”
      I would die to see a director’s/NSD’s face if someone actually responded this way. ?

      1. Cat Ballou

        LOL…I kinda did. When I signed up, I got the usual call from the director about buying inventory. Except she was pushy about setting up a time for the call initially, then rescheduled it several times. So by the time I actually spoke to her, I was pissed. When she started in about the MK credit card, I told her that I have plenty of credit but there’s no way I’m buying inventory.

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