Uncomfortable Questions About Mary Kay
Written by Frosty Rose
Oh, dear. The worst has happened! Maybe a friend caught you in a weak moment. Maybe you really thought you were going to get a free eyeshadow or mascara. Whatever the reason, you’ve agreed to go to a Mary Kay meeting or event with your consultant. Or, worse, you’ve signed up for a “practice interview” with her director to “help her with her training.”
You could just cancel. Back out at the last minute. You’re coughing, the kids are sick, or your neighbor’s best friend’s aunt’s goldfish died and you have to attend the funeral. Or… you could go and have some fun at the director’s expense. And spread the Pink Truth gospel while you’re at it. Either is a good option, but if you choose the latter, prepare yourself with these questions. Then sit back and watch the recruiter squirm.
What is your average monthly take-home pay? She’ll answer that it depends on your effort! You can make “play money” or work your way up to an “executive income” within a few months. Keep asking this question until she answers with an actual number. Likely, she’ll tell you her “highest monthly check.”
Ask how many months she’s earned that much. Ask about her lowest monthly check and how many months she earned no commission check or even owed the company money due to her downline’s chargebacks. Ask how many consultants in her unit are earning any money—she won’t know, because she doesn’t dare ask.
Fun fact, well over 99% of consultants and directors in Mary Kay don’t earn any money from their business. Many even lose money. According to the FTC, this is typical of all multi-level marketing companies and Mary Kay is not the exception. If you’re feeling really feisty, bring up this statistic.
How much time do I need to spend on my business? This is a good one because she’s going to have a nice, scripted answer for you and she’ll think she has the upper hand. She’ll tell you all about being your own boss, working when you want, and being off whenever you like. She might tell you that most new consultants will hold an average of two to three parties a week to launch their business the right way and build up their customer list. That will take you an average of 4-6 hours.
Dig in. Ask how many people you’ll need to talk to in order to book a party (she’ll say 5, it’s closer to 20 or more). Ask how many parties you need to book to hold 2-3 (she’ll say 5-6, less in your “warm circle,” it’s closer to 10-12). Ask how you’ll find more people to talk to after you exhaust your “warm circle” (she’ll go on about booking from bookings, she’ll conceal information about stalking people in the cosmetics aisle at Walmart).
Make her show you her activity from the prior week. I guarantee you it won’t reflect the activity levels that she expects you to have as a “brand new, part-time” consultant. And even if the activity (dials, bookings, etc.) are there, the results will not be. Ask about the amount of time she spends on her business away from customers—how much time does she spend booking those 2-3 parties per week, maintaining her inventory, running to the post office, and keeping up with paperwork? Those 4 – 6 hours will quickly turn into 20-30. Ask how she keeps her business and personal life separate (she doesn’t).
How do you manage your business when you take time off for vacation? She’s going to stutter on this one. Truth is, she doesn’t take a vacation. She works from her phone all. The. Time. And she has to schedule vacations to not fall at the end of the month or it’s even worse.
Are people really having parties since COVID? I don’t have any data on this one because I quit before COVID kicked in, but I can say that party bookings have been in decline for at least the last decade. When I started my business in 2006, it was pretty easy to get people to book and buy products. If I had any frustrations around it, I was assured that it was just me, I needed a new circle, I needed to freshen up my booking script or my skills. And after all, Mary Kay had written the playbook in 1963 when most women stayed home during the day. The principles remained, but we needed to adapt somewhat!
She’ll likely tell you some drivel about how women love to have other women in their home, and the home-based party is really the perfect solution for COVID—after all, you’re inviting your close friends and family into your home, not shopping with some stranger at the mall who could have who knows what. Ask her how many parties she’s held in the last month and how that compares with 2019.
Do you recommend that I keep an inventory? The wording here is key. Don’t ask if I have to have inventory. She’ll chirp, “No, of course not, it’s your business to run as you see fit!” and move on to the next thing.
Ask what she recommends. She’ll demur. “Well, that’s something we’ll talk about in your training once you get started. It really depends on your goals for your business.”
Spoiler: it doesn’t depend on your goals for your business. It depends on hers. If she’s working for a big goal, she’s going to tell you that you need a full store of inventory, $3,600 wholesale or more. But not until you’ve already joined as a consultant. It’s a bait and switch. “You don’t have to have inventory, but women who want to be successful always start with product on hand. Don’t you want to be successful?” If she dodges the question or won’t answer with a clear yes or no, don’t let her off the hook. Ask her to explain her inventory recommendations right there, in detail.
How do you track your income? “This is all covered in training,” she’ll say. Insist on an answer. She’ll punt because she doesn’t. And she doesn’t teach her consultants to track their income, either, because they’ll catch on faster that there simply isn’t any income, just a lot of expenses.
Can I see your Schedule C? This is the tax document that a director should be filing to show her sole proprietor business income. She won’t let you see it, and she’ll likely get offended that you would even ask. That’s personal and private information, after all! And her income/level of success has nothing to do with yours! Everyone in Mary Kay runs their own business and reaps the reward for her own level of effort.
How many questions do you think you can ask before she shuts you down completely? My guess is not very many. Mary Kay directors are not generally equipped to deal with people who want hard facts, because they’re not easy targets. Likely, she’ll write you off pretty quickly and move on to easier prey. But, hey, at least you got that free mascara!