MLM Raiders!

By David Klaybor
©  2004

Welcome to the MLM Observer, a repository for editorial and opinion from MLM industry observers.  The editorial and opinions expressed are those of the respective authors and not necessarily those of mlmlegal.com.  The sole purpose of such articles is to stimulate MLM industry education, debate and self reflection.

Professional NWM Distributor or NWM Junkie?

At a recent leadership conference for Network Marketing (NWM) owners where I was speaking, to the amusement of the group, another speaker defined a NWM "Junkie" as a distributor who is pilfering, stealing or raiding your companies sales force… and a Professional NWM distributor as an ambitious, hard-working industry leader, an enterprising entrepreneur who's bringing a large group of new recruits to your firm!

     NWM is a business - Business is War - and war isn't pretty or for the faint of heart. War has casualties and body counts… and depending on whether you're the general who just won a battle, or you're the general who just lost a battle… one of you is smiling -while the other (if he's lucky enough to still be alive), is hurting and licking his/her wounds.

 Raiding is always going to be a part of the NWMing world.
"Innocent raiding" is one thing… but aggressive hardcore stealing of another company's sales force is the bad side of this issue.

Sooooooo, depending upon whether you're the "Raider" (the beneficiary) or the "Raidee" (the loser), this topic either scares the hell out of you or brings dollar signs to your mind. What exactly is "Raiding" anyway?

Webster defines raiding as: the act of aggressively entering someone else's domain, territory or space and then taking, seizing or stealing something that is not yours (goods, valuables, assets); it is also defined as a surprise attack, invasion or forced entry to relieve someone, something, some group, or some company of one or more of their assets; a Raider… the person, group, company, army or force behind the effort to relinquish control, power or influence from another against their will or best interests; a hostile legal, political or business move to drive the stock, worth or value of something up or down. (this is the technical perspective…)

In network marketing language, the Dave Klaybor definition states: raiding is the art, act and/or deliberate attempt to coerce, lure, steal or temp a NWM distributor - (a downline builder with as much of his/her sales organization as you can get), away from another independent Direct Sales/NWM company and bringing all those distributors over into your business operation. This maneuver is designed to produce a shortcut to quickly add some meaningful sales volume under the "Raider". Raiding is a sponsoring tactic/strategy performed either:

innocently by well intended smaller distributor's who only wish to "nudge" their NWM contacts into looking at the business opportunity they represent…

or

all the way up to the fast talking, garage filling, money hungry, cold, calculating business building recruiting monsters who aggressively attack anyone they can target as a potential income generator for themselves.

Most of us fear the raider, dislike the tactic, tell others how bad it is… and yet everyone of us would jump for joy if we found out tomorrow that a huge organization had defected from a competitor and decided to work full time under you!

So is raiding a good thing or a bad thing…?
Where do you honestly fit into the equation?

Most of us seem to be talking out of both sides of our mouths and may in-fact be promoting a kind-of double-standard… is there an appropriate set of standards we could all live by… and what are the solutions to this dilemma…?

The only way you can prevent your group from being RAIDED… is to have constant, pro-active, positive TWO-WAY communication being exchanged with your downline leaders. All of them… all the time. You absolutely need to have a positive relationship with the team members who are the life-blood of your business. Especially with the distributors who you do not naturally "resonate with"… the ones who you aren't especially interested in inviting to your home… the ones who are different than you. These are the ones who will silently leave you and take 10-40% of your business overnight ! These are the people you need to win over, not the ones whom you already get along with…. It's the ones you don't that require most of your attention. Interesting facts - hey.

Every week you hear about some leader who is defecting from one company to another… (to one persons delight and another persons horror). Many distributors leave a company due to inter personal relationship break downs. This simply means that some leader doesn't get along with the owner of a company anymore. And when some leading distributor gets a bad feeling about making money for someone they do not care for anymore… deep down inside their subconscious mind they are plotting ways to prevent this from happening. Unless they are locked in" by an income stream that they do not wish to risk losing… they will quietly be talking to competitors about "the possibilities" of moving from where they are to where the grass seems to be greener.

Note: 94% of all leaders who leave a company for another company, would have stayed, had there just been:

  1. More frequent POSITIVE communication.
  2. better listening skills between all parties concerned… most leaders who end up leaving your downline and Raiding your operation to go somewhere else, never thought that the owner or their upline listened to their input. They did not feel like they were important… they did not feel like they could SPEAK FREELY ABOUT matters of importance to the people who controlled their lives. They leave to get more attention, to be more important, to be somewhere where people seem to value them more… pay them more… listen to them more… treat them better. Thus, your job is to make sure they feel comfortable ALWAYS with you and your business opportunity.
  3. To prevent being RAIDED: a leader needs to always offer some concessions / compromises to make each side happier… There is nothing wrong with taking advice, listening to constructive criticism, having an open door policy etc… because if you don't you will lose 10-40% of your business overnight… this is a high price to pay for "being right".
  4. a stroking of each others ego via: recognition programs, bonuses, awards, trips, cars, expense accounts, college funds, stock awards, and other misc. GOLDEN HANDCUFF gifts that prevent a leader from leaving your downline for another competitors operation.
  5. At least make an effort to seem genuinely "personally interested" in the leaders: future, financial well being, health, hobbies, family, career and popularity. They need to know that you are "looking after their best interests" and if they think you are, why would they leave your SECURITY UMBRELLA for an unknown opportunity.

Relationships between top distributors and the NWMing company administration… is much like that between couples. Married people wear a wedding band for two main reasons… A- most would answer that the ring is a public sign or symbol of each others love, loyalty and lasting commitment for the other… while, B- many others would also see it as a "symbol" for the public-at-large to stay away from making advances towards the ring wearer. The ring symbolizes the commitment between two partners who are working together as a team for life… or in other words, it says to the world (for better or worse), "I'm taken or spoken for"… and thus society looks down upon a man or woman who approaches and propositions a "ring-bearing" person of the opposite sex, right?!

Well it's not the same in our industry, is it?

In fact, when you put your NWM companies ring on: as represented by a lapel pin, bumper sticker, business card, advertisement, or an ad in the newspaper… this is an outward sign telling the world that you are in the NWMing business and have a home based business. Instead of staying away from approaching these people who have displayed their company name on something in their life, (like a wedding ring symbol indicates), many competing NWMing distributor's are singled-out and targeted by many competing distributors for raiding. We have all seen this happen or have done it ourselves.

Some competing NWMing distributor's are pretty nice when they approach another NWMing distributor to share "their" business opportunity… while other completing NWMing distributors are more aggressive and define the bad side of the RAIDING issue herein. These are usually hot-shot, fast-talking, slick-looking competing distributors who make their living by aggressively hinting to other NWMing folks that they're in the wrong deal and that THEY REPRESENT the perfect new deal for you to join.

The more innocent-type raiders might say: "you're company offers wonderful nutritional products, perhaps I might purchase some of your incredible products… while you might also enjoy using our economical state-of-the-art telecommunications services". Suggesting a win/win way of potentially doing business together. It's the old, "don't stop doing what you're doing, but also do what I'm doing" routine. Or, they say: "keep working your old company, but give me some names of people and I will do all the work and build you another NWMing income on the side". Sounds tempting doesn't it. They tell you: "that it is important to have multiple income streams and not be relying on one company's business opportunity for your future retirement plans"… thus, they want you to join THEIR BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY as well as there's.

(authors note: focus - focus - focus on ONE business opportunity at a time. Period. Once you have one deal going great, then expand your horizons if you feel compelled to… but verrrrrrrrry rarely has anyone ever made a LOT OF MONEY working more than ONE PLAN. There are a few minor exceptions to this rule, but overall, for 90% of you, you know I am right on this point… set a goal to become a NWMing professional and work one program.)

Do not fall for the high-pressure hard-core distributors who suggest that their deal has the best greatest-ever patented compensation plan invented… that you have to act quickly to get in right now… how poor your company is… how incredible their world-class doctor's formulas are… how great their auto-responding, web-based, lead-generating system is - you'll never have to make a phone call - go to a meeting or work hard again! … and how lucky you are to have "them" as your upline.

Which type of distributor are you…? Well, none of us are perfect in our actions, are we! We all have said some pretty interesting things in an effort to recruit some NWMing leader who we've uncovered that is going to make a fast move to another operation.

Although an independent multi-level marketing distributor does not make the level of commitment married people do, there is a very strong bond between the NWM operation and it's distributor force. They are, in a sense, married to each other via their business partnership. In fact most distributors will automatically and vehemently defend the company they represent … they will defend their organization from intruders, criticism, or membership fallout. Just like a mother bear looking after her cubs, it is not wise to get between them. But even with this internal human emotional bond with our firm, there is also nothing worse than a woman scored… which means that once a distributor becomes upset with an NWMing operation, policy, change or leader… it can be very hard to prevent a person from leaving and Raiding the downline on the way out. It is easier to convince a leader to leave one company for another when they are DISSATISFIED WITH THEIR PRESENT SITUATION. Thus, it is your job to keep your leaders from becoming "dissatisfied" with you and your firm.

The sales organization is the life-blood of a network marketing operation….and is usually directly protected and defended by it's leaders…and indirectly by a distributors natural human- nature to join, promote and look after the group. Most participants are willing believers (disciples) who'll give up a lot to live by specific company rules or the teams mission statements / belief systems. Thus "Raiding" is not possible unless there's a lack of leadership, weak accountability, some level of dissention, dissatisfaction, poor recognition program, or an uncovered deception by the founders.

Just like a marriage, when a NWM distributorship is built on a two-way street of sound principals and practices, there will never be infidelity… but if the partnership/union is taken for granted and not constantly nurtured using every available sound business strategy, the possibility for "Raiding" is almost certain.

Why do people practice the art of raiding? First of all, it 's human nature for average normal mortal human beings to procrastinate, stall, fib, bend rules, speed, over eat, sleep in, lust for something they can't have, pass the buck, etc…. so why not do a little "raiding"… right? Heck, of all the quirks, bad habits and downfalls we humans all have, this negative trait could be potentially very profitable, (did I hear someone just say - "Amen"). It's not like we're holding up a 7-11 or selling drugs… all we're doing is just shaking our neighbor's fruit tree and letting a few the ripe apples fall where they may… and someone's got to pick them up and make some tasty apple-pie, or they'll just gonna get rotten… and even if they're not "our apples", certainly God him/herself wouldn't invite his beautiful apples going to waist rotting on the ground… - right?

As a journalist, researcher and marketing analyst… we have to consider: are there any positive aspects regarding "Raiding"… well, for one:

  • it's an easy way to leap forward and get promoted in the compensation plan, and this will help us prove to our spouse's (including friends, family members, co-workers and others who lost money with us in past deals)… that we finally made the right decision, and this time we're going to - not only get all of our money back, but we're going to get all the money back we ever lost due to all of our stupid business decisions we've made the last 2 decades! Heck, just this one simple potential benefit seems to make raiding worthwhile - right?
  • And raiding surely is much less time consuming than having to build an organization one brick at a time… "getting rich quick" seems a lot more appealing than the "get rich slow" method… - thus raiding must be a skill worthy of some more research.
  • a person who knows how to raid, can advance quickly into the company/industry limelight. This must be the way people reach their goals, dreams and aspirations in the world… it couldn't possibly be learning how to do it the way the company training manual said.
  • It is rumored that the raider can sometimes get "special deals" from some owners. And if we had all that extra money raider's say they make, think of all the people we could help financially and how much money we could donate to charities.
  • A "Raider"' looks like a hot-shot, big-hitter and sees this as their ticket to run with the big dogs. The raider's reputation can become a bit notorious, (kinda romantic like an outlaw from the wild west), and they see this as a way to gain industry status and even to become a bit feared by others - a notorious raider has the ability to intimidate other leaders... and the bigger the body-count, the better they think their resume' is. This special kind of raiding power is worn like a "badge of honor" by some well-known raiders... we (you) all know who you are. Heck, you could be the savior who comes to the aid of a bunch of distributors trapped in a dying company, and leads them, (like Moses), to the promised land! Using this analogy, some raiders actually are the real hero's of the industry…

So much for the positive spin items - now what about the downside of "Raiding":

  • Well, for starters, the ultra-serious raider's who are proud of the fact that they intentionally go out and take people from one operation and recruit them over to another, well… all of these bad-boy's (and girls) might wild up burning in hell for awhile. And what goes around comes around". I have not witnessed many of these individuals making it big long term. 96% of all serious Raiders end up having poor reputations and being short term flashes in the pan most of their mlm career. They are never truly liked, just feared. They are always distrusted, even though those around them will never share this fact with them. They live a lonely black-sheep type of life. Not the most fun lifestyle even though the money seems good for awhile.
  • If that didn't phase you, then maybe we should try to focus on the words: integrity, morality, sound business practices, principal, honor and virtue… do these themes attach themselves to raiding or do they seem to mock the practice or art of raiding? Raiders rarely have a conscience.
  • Historically, when we research the lives and outcomes of many of the most notorious raiders of the past two thousand years like: Attila the Hun, the Roman Empire, Kublai Khan, Hitler, Saddam Hussein, etc… they all seemed to have a pretty good run for awhile, but in 94% of the cases studied, the raider ultimately always seems to go down in flames… so, if you admire these men, then you're not interested in anything I have to say… and I can hear the Carly Simon song: "So I bet you think this song is about you, don't you … don't you" - playing in the background.

NWM is a business. Business is War… and war isn't pretty or for the faint of heart. War has casualties and body counts… and depending on whether you're the general who just won a battle, or you're the general who just lost a battle… one of you is smiling -while the other (if he's lucky enough to still be alive), is hurting and licking his/her wounds. And due to the nature of your addiction to seek: more money and more power, seek bigger and bigger thrills, etc… you guys/girls have always got to be competing, winning, intimidating, conquering, or sometimes "Raiding" somebody… or you're not having a good month.

And for those of you who really enjoy "raiding", and have even been rather successful at it… always remember that the art of raiding is a lot like the art of gambling. You may win from time-to-time, but the universe seems to have a built-in "justice system" that balances things/situations (like this one) out… and poetic justice often times finds the winner of yesterday and today, the big loser of tomorrow.

Thus the metaphor: "do unto others as you would have them do unto you"… has special meaning here, because: "what goes around… always seems to come around". And regarding this topic, what boomerang's back to you is oftentimes the fact that the raider becomes the raided. Think about it. If I'm in your downline and you help and teach me how to raid distributors from another company… this is fine as long as we stay allies and business partners working the same business opportunity. But what prevents me from coming back and stealing much of your sales force one day in the future when we're not working the same program and we're potential competitor - or even worse - enemies!

To raid or not to raid… that is the question. Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune/misfortune… yada yada. Should you stand and defend the moral strategies of building your program the (more politically correct) right way… or design a business building strategy dominated by aggressive take-over policies? One is certainly faster and seemingly more profitable in the short run than the more moral way. What would God say about this…? Will "raiders" be turned away for all eternity at the Pearly-Gates on Judgment Day… or will they just spend a few years in the penalty-box of purgatory? ….

It just so happens that I have a few friends in heaven… and they haven't seen any signs of Napoleon Bonaparte, Darth Vader or Benito Mussolini yet.

Captain Dave Klaybor, ATP... - President of PowerLineSystems.ws a 10 year old world-class training and consulting firm who manufactures the finest Business Planning System designed specifically for the NWM industry. He is honored to have his name on the cover of 5 books, he's been on the cover of many business publications, and his tools are sold in the largest NWM catalogs. To get a free tape on how to make $100k/yr. In NWM… Dave is a Record-Breaking Veteran Builder, Author/Columnist, Speaker, Marketing Expert... DK's tools are "Celebrity Endorsed" and have recently won an "Industry Award" for Product Excellence… Captain Dave Klaybor is President of PowerLine Systems email: Dklaybor@hotmail.com www.PowerLineSystems.ws

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Jeffrey A. Babener, the principal attorney in the Portland, Oregon law firm of Babener & Associates, represents many of the leading direct selling companies in the United States and abroad.

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