Written by Raisinberry

Someone once said that there is a little bit of “BS” is in every sales presentation, and they weren’t talking about better service. Perhaps some time ago, Mary Kay’s sales environment and recruiting system might have been pure as the driven snow, but something has gone terribly awry in the last few decades of “enriching women’s lives”.

The symptoms of it are easy to see, the “why” of it, more difficult. In many ways, what has happened to our economy as a whole is reflected by Mary Kay in microcosm. In the simplest words possible, Mary Kay opted for quick and easy profit by any means possible, instead of by thorough training and laborious development of personnel in time honored professionalism.

Quick profit is as easy as large start up inventories secured with the click of a mouse, as opposed to building sales people in the field taking commission profit from on going sales success. Field results take too long, are hard to come by and sporadic due to unreliable hostesses and exhausted leads.

Clearly recent years show that earning profit off consultant sales isn’t the goal. Start up production is. Consultants get on board, sell the warm market they have, and dry up and die in pretty routine fashion. Motivation to continue which would normally come from being successful and making money now has to be manufactured artificially by dangling prizes in multiple contests and by creating multiple “academy award” style events. Mary Kay has chosen manipulation over honest salesmanship to hide the sad success rates of the sale force. Using the pretense of fortunes being made for staying the course, Directors and the unsuspecting new recruit have been “handled” with the skill of a professional scammer.

The method by which Mary Kay sales leaders communicate to their sales force is through platitudes and saying and quips that are shallow and uninformative. But it is the “I-story” that packs the biggest punch. Real results are rarely revealed and rags to riches testimonies are the meat and potatoes of motivation. “You can too” is the cry of the upline, yet step by step how to’s never amount to more than the 4 word phrase, “book sell book recruit”. This kind of information keeps the real game hidden and the recruit scratching their head. They still don’t know actual methods to get new customers.

“No?, next” is the answer to how to get more appointments or team members. “Raise your deserve level” is the answer to why you have objections and obstacles to accomplishing simple goals. But in the real world of sales, as a profession, these quips would be insulting, vague and worse, would be setting the sales person up for failure. Who would want their sales force to fail? Who in a sales industry would want unskilled, untrained, unable sales people to represent them?

There are successful sellers in Mary Kay. They are successful because they have sales personalities and understand instinctively how to romance the product, listen for cues, ask questions, close, cover objections and close again. Their timing is impeccable. They can wait long enough for a client talking themselves out of buying a “complete” to talking themselves right back into it, without panicking. But Mary Kay doesn’t “interview” for these people. Mary Kay casts a wide broad net at guest events with the exact opposite bait: “anyone can sell this product, you do not have to be the sales type, in fact we don’t really want the sales type, in fact the product sells itself.” Who in a sales industry would sift the crowds looking for people who are ill-equipped to be successful selling cosmetics? Who would hunt for those who probably don’t have a chance?

Opponents of Pink Truth visit this site and tell us of their many successes. Some even tell us that they sell the product well and they assume we didn’t. If they have no problem with MK practices, they are women who function well in a sea of manipulation because they obviously do not object. One wonders if they even notice or know the difference between being a sales professional or being a multi-level marketing recruiter.

The sales pro is a completely different animal from the MLM recruiter. The mlm recruiter has bought into the idea that the best plan of action is to bring everybody on board, knowing that 80% will lose motivation at some point, and whoever remains has “the right stuff”. In a disposable world, most of the members of that 80% group get crushed for the try, with another hunk of self esteem tossed in the trashcan, and the mlm recruiter gets to skim off a bit of commission for as long as the target lasted. There is no thought given to the public relations nightmare that’s brewing. The mlm recruiter moves along reminding themselves that “only those who quit in Mary Kay, fail”, with not a hint of conscience.

By contrast, the sales professional got their opportunity to represent a company because they could prove their understanding and ability in sales. They received product knowledge to gain competency and sales training to gain skill for presenting. They watch an experienced salesperson do sales calls, discussing results afterwards, usually for a minimum of two solid weeks. I can not remember the last time that I or any other director actually took recruits to our classes.

Isn’t it interesting and revealing that emphasis on sales success is minimized? After all, what do you really need to know to sell? The product sells itself, remember? But only to your mom, grandma, sister and cousin. Once the warm market dries up, so does the consultant so better maximize her production dollars right upfront. She’ll be gone in 6 months. This thinking along with Mary Kay’s failure to actually track retail sales supports our contention that MK makes its money off frontloading, not consistent, sustainable sales success, resulting in reorders.

When you believe that people are expendable, and care little for the emotional impact that your influence has on them, you can do well in multi-level marketing like Mary Kay. In fact, I would say this belief would be necessary. The entire culture of Mary Kay plays to women who respond to manipulation, and have ease with living in denial. These are women who, being told that negativity is not allowed, succumb to this teaching without question. When obstacles are labeled “negative” and questions based on truth are ill received, it isn’t a professional environment.

Somewhere along the line, Mary Kay’s sales training became manipulation training because it stopped facing real concerns and real issues in favor of the easier route to the top of the pyramid. It’s easier to put production on credit cards, when “find a way or make a way” training suggests that that balance transfer card appearing in the mail was a miracle from God. These little “credit miracles” are no more…and because of that, we see production dropping and tightening, because production never did come from sales!

Easy credit (like easy mortgages) leads to easy second mortgages and many directors folded their mounting credit card debt from trying to keep up appearances, into whatever equity space they had. Up and up and up it all spiraled, with NOBODY from the upline giving real thought to the condition of directors and their unit members because nobody was allowed to face or question or reveal what was actually happening in the field. Numbers were bogus, but no one dare take a look and face the music.

Few were selling consistently. Oh there were a smattering of sales here and there, but nobody was selling enough product to warrant the kinds of ordering that was necessary to be a “never miss star”, “speed of the leader gal” or “court of sales” winner, except by those who were already naturally gifted in salesmanship. Directors are told to move women up and that only requires a pulse, not skill. Sales Pros are few in Mary Kay because real sales pros don’t appreciate phony answers, games, lies, fraud and manipulation. There might be one woman per unit that actually sells at Queens Court level, but princess level of half that is more likely…maybe.

Think about how many sales leaders with thousands of dollars after their names are on the newsletter lists right now, and then think how little of that is actually sold. Now think how many of them will be PUSHED to reach princess or queens court by June 30, not because they actually earned it but because they just have to be on stage, according to their director or NSD. It’s peer manipulation. In this regard we as female sales people look ridiculously foolish. Just picture the male pharmaceutical rep, writing bogus contracts he pays for himself in order to be recognized at the annual meeting.

This would never be, in a professional retail sales organization. Sales of real product to real customers would be noted and tracked. Yet Mary Kay still insists it cannot track consultant sales. Have you ever heard anything more ridiculous? Thousands of retail businesses all over America are tracking their numbers but Mary Kay can’t. Mary Kay does not want to track sales because it would reveal the truth, and that truth would DEVASTATE recruiting; that millions of dollars of unsold merchandise is stacked in basements and garages all over the US…and now perhaps even the world.

When you sell professionally, you do not have to hide from the truth. You do not have to give phony answers, and platitudes and sayings and quips that deliver no real help to the new hire. When you are unethical and have unimpressive results, that’s when you have to hide your lack of results, through romancing the mystique of the upline. Multi-levels use the top pyramid dwellers to bait “achievement”. After all, if once your perfect start has degenerated into a perfect stop, yet you are shown all this great achievement from the women above you, what are you to do but continue on, looking for your weakness? Didn’t Mary Kay once say about the Queen on the throne, “What has she got that you can’t get fixed?” Surely if they can do it you can do it! The message is clear; you need fixed, not Mary Kay.

The thing is you will never realize that the “queen” rarely “sold it”. They bought it. And you are comparing yourself in integrity, to a woman without it.

It seems for Mary Kay, the easy way was to forego the hard work and dedication necessary to look for and “hire” only those who could make a career of professional selling in favor of the easy money of large start up inventories from the masses.

Knowing the wash out rate was high, they protected themselves with the threat of returned product by adding the warning, “You can never be a consultant again” if you return inventory. The uplines (who by majority bought their own success) stand as a constant reminder that you never really gave it your all, and that was so effective, chargebacks were kept relatively low. As long as somebody did it, then there was a chance that you could do it, maybe at a later date when life’s distractions wouldn’t be so, well, distracting. “Don’t close the door permanently!” It was the perfect scam.

Directors who were particularly naïve would go along buying into the 80% wash out theory, deep in the pink fog, and never question because that would be negative…and Directors who were basically on to it and ruthlessly greedy wouldn’t care anyway.

A perfect hierarchy of the naïve and in denial, and the ruthless and greedy continues to perpetuate this enormous financial fraud, with the hopeful and unsuspecting invited to hotels or dialing into conference calls to hear a “success story” missing half the facts. A professional Sales Manager can not state for the record that her sales force “sold” $650,000 worth when there is not a stitch of evidence to support that. But Mary Kay NSDs are exceptional at holding back any info that would dissuade a woman from joining and then never fully disclosing the reality of dismal sales in MK. And that’s what really is wrong with our economy as a whole. I’ll get mine by dishonest or unscrupulous methods, and who cares what happens to you.

Who would want unskilled, untrained, unable sales force members to represent them? Someone who isn’t relying on repeat sales. They have figured out that it isn’t representatives who get them what they want, it’s their money. Consultants are after all, the customer. By letting their Directors and NSDs run wild in inept, unprofessional and somewhat childish behavior, “playing business women” by favoring the fast buck of new recruit production, they have placed themselves into the current climate of diminishing results. More losses than ever will mount because the credit crunch has dried up Mary Kay’s chief method of product sales, but they can never admit that. Manipulation professionals will continue to paint the rosy picture because they are going after the “start up investment dollars”, not the long term health of each consultants overall sales business. In other words, what they’re selling isn’t true. Today’s top checks rely on the influx of new consultant cash, in classic ponzi scheme style.

Without a sales force trained in selling, pursuing real profit, under current conditions, the pyramid scam that is Mary Kay Cosmetics will not be able to duplicate the “success” of the past. The greedy broad net has backfired.

This crisis of integrity should have caused serious reevaluation at headquarters. It hasn’t. They have redoubled efforts to recruit even more 3ft rule women, taking advantage of the need for extra money in this economy. That is why we are seeing lots and lots of recruiting only without the accompanying “star” order. In the past, averaging all orders coming in, $1,000 per new consultant on average was the norm, because of the higher star levels of $1,800, $2,400, $3,000, $3,600 and $4,200. If the $600 is what they are going for now, there is not much offsetting the zero and $225 activating order. NSDs and directors have to do wholesale baiting by offering exciting prizes for upper levels of production. This makes MK look less ponzi (what? We aren’t frontloading!), and makes directors take the production heat, but the real issue, CONSUMER PURCHASING, is still being ignored. What does that tell you about where the money really is? At the same time, Mary Kay is fiercely fighting the notion that it’s a product based ponzi derivative by emailing out a “we’re not a scam” recruiting advertisement and seeking out credible advocates in media. Advocates that won’t do their homework.

Real long term solutions can only be achieved by putting consultants into bonafide sales training and having minimum sales requirements to continue as a consultant. (They’ll never do that, though, because Mary Kay isn’t actually about selling.) We are taught to track everything to be successful, yet not tracking real sales at the Unit level is feeding the wholesale order abuse. Streamlining the sales force, culling the hobbyists, acting ethically regarding achievements and rewards and accepting less profit for the sake of a return to integrity should be job one at MK. It won’t be. Some companies have to fall into complete darkness before they see the light.


  1. “The thing is you will never realize that the “queen” rarely “sold it”. They bought it. And you are comparing yourself in integrity, to a woman without it.”

    I can tell you first-hand that these “queens” bought their way into the courts, despite telling others that they sold it all. I knew two “top sellers,” ones who were ALWAYS in the top 10 on the personal sales courts, who had dozens of shipping boxes stacked everywhere with products. Yes, one WAS a good seller of products, but not to the tune of 100K a year.

  2. Excellent piece Raisinberry!

    It makes me sad to think of the women who get sucked into MLMs like Mary Kay and come away with a perverted understanding of how retail commerce/business actually works. Most traditional companies can explain their business model and compensation package in one or two simple pages. In all cases, the money powering the business comes from outside customers, not the employees.

    MLMs can’t explain their business model or compensation plan without a 60-90 minute in-person meeting with multiple folks spinning yarn while misusing common business terms. And these businesses can’t survive without monetary contributions from the sales force.

    I believe this is why Amway has a screening process to keep people with actually business experience the hell out of their sales pitches. Not only to protect those fragile “mentors”, but also to keep folks from asking questions that would quickly reveal the underlying scam to others in the room. I believe Mary Kay uses a self-selection process based on finding women with an honest desire to build a business ostensibly around selling beauty products. That’s the hook, anyway.

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