Sadly, there are a lot of unethical people out there in cyberspace who prey on direct sales consultants through a variety of online scams and fraudulent practices. Be a saavy business person and learn to identify a scam before you find out the hard way!
There are two main ways a direct sales rep can get scammed online. The first is via email. Robots search the internet without ceasing and harvest email addresses anywhere they can find them, sending thousands upon thousands of spam “feelers” out there in the hopes that one or two gullible souls will fall for it. It always amazes me that anyone does, but apparently enough do that it is worth it.
Fortunately, many email scams come from other countries and have dead giveaways in grammar! Here’s some signs the email can be deleted without another thought:
- Multiple misspellings, poor grammar, lack of capitalization
- Person claims to be deaf or have lost their cell phone to you can’t speak with them
- Mention of another country, a relative in another country, or of travel or traveler’s checks
- Ordering strange things, like four Crop A Diles or more than one Big Shot
- Ordering only big ticket items or wildly dissimilar items
- Asking to pay by personal check or money order, claiming not to have a credit card
- Saying their book-keeper or accountant made a mistake and wrote too large a check to you
- Asking you to order first and they’ll pay upon receipt of the items
- Dangling the carrot of a “very large” order to come
- Claiming to be a fellow demo (maybe even one you actually do know) who was mugged in a foreign country and can’t get home unless you send them money for a new passport
DO NOT respond to obvious scams. Then they know your email address is a live one and will continue to hit you up with spam and "feelers." Many a demonstrator has been taken in--be alert for escalation of scam-like behaviors throughout subsequent correspondence! If your initial reaction to the way something is worded is suspicion, it is probably accurate.
Unfortunately, a common way for scammers to contact you now is through your company-sponsored business website, so sometimes the scammers will initially appear as "leads." Once you respond, they will send you the more typical scam email with many of the characteristics in the list above.
You can just delete scam emails when they come in, or you can forward them to your company’s web violations department. Sometimes if there is a particularly prevalent scam, the home office will release an announcement to warn your fellow consultants. And if you’re unsure and want another pair of eyes, forward it to your upline. They have probably seen that particular one before. Sadly, if those unethical email spammers put half as much time and thought into a legitimate business as they do into perpetrating their scams, they would probably be quite successful!
The second way direct sales business owner can be scammed is by being convinced into buying a program, book, service or coaching from a person who claims to be an expert. Even well-intentioned, ordinarily business-saavy people sometimes fall for scams like these in their honest desire to build their businesses. Some red flags that should spring up when you are contemplating a coach or service:
- Remember that everyone is selling something. All of their slick materials and websites will be designed to put the pressure on and make you feel like you are missing out on money falling from the heavens.
- Psychological tricks abound throughout these programs. Charismatic individuals will be able to convince anyone of just about anything. A “health and wealth” gospel is particularly damaging because it makes people feel like if they can just get their illnesses or even their weight under control, they will be successful and happy.
- It is in their best interest to use all their advertising knowledge on YOU, because YOU are their income. There’s an old saying that you don’t have to actually know how to sell to fifty people yourself—you just have to convince 50 people they can’t sell unless you teach them.
- Along with that, a big warning sign is when you are paid (either in products or services or cash) for getting friends to sign up for coaching as well, or getting a group discount. You are doing their work for them and they are throwing you a bone as a kickback. You are no longer an unbiased source of info on that marketer, if that is the case.
- Remember that there is no oversight committee investigating their claims and testimonials. Anyone can add “expert” to their title or claim they’ve been in the industry “for years.”
- Remember that pictures of fabulous stats can easily be photoshopped to alter graphs, inflate number of followers, etc. Testimonials can be altered to sound more enthusiastic—remember who is choosing the “sound byte” out of what may have been a very long letter.
- Take advantage of the free webinars and materials they offer if you want, but realize that these may be little more than teasers and extended commercials for their paid services. And you’ll be on their mailing lists forever!
- One common and underhanded tactic is to heavily discount their main product, book or e-course, for a limited time. This hurries you into making a decision before you have had time to investigate.
- The worst ones make you feel like the odds are stacked against you and you CANNOT succeed unless you have their expertise. Some even go so far as to tell you your company is purposefully misleading you or doing a bad job of training you. It is all carefully designed to manipulate you into dependence on them.
- Remember that ANYONE can publish an e-book these days. The ability to cheaply and easily build your own website or blog has brought a lot of small-time scammers to cyberspace and allowed them to have a much bigger reach.
- Realize that it is probably not a wise use of your limited resources to pay someone to “teach” you what can be easily found for free on the internet. Take advantage of all the training provided by your company and your uplines before hunting for more. If you were truly working on all the advice on the demonstrator website you would be too busy to even think about finding a coach to tell you MORE things you should be doing.
A great rule of thumb for demonstrators is “if it sounds too good to be true—it probably isn’t.” Beware of people who promise to teach you their fabulous secret that somehow no one else in the history of direct sales has ever managed to find out! There are no magic bullets in this industry or any other. Enthusiasm, determination, and an unwillingness to give up are ALL you need to succeed in direct sales.
It is sad that unethical people are out to take your precious, hard-earned profit using a little real business advice and pairing it with lots of fluff and slick marketing. Fortunately, fore-warned is fore-armed when it comes to scammers. Stick with your own intuition and business advice from reputable sources, and your efforts will pay off as your business grows in a healthy and sustainable way.
Dream BIG (and be safe!), friend!
You are welcome to use this information in your team meetings. Click here to download a PDF file with my two-page handout created for downline education: Download Guide to Avoiding Common Scams