Friday, November 23, 2007

Warm Chatting or Warm Stalking? The Solicitation Conundrum Part II

Once you start Mary Kay, one of the most important aspects of your new business is finding new people to sell to. How do you find people that want to buy Mary Kay? Whether you choose to only sell the product or sell the product and offer the Mary Kay opportunity, you need to find people that will be interested in what you are selling. It is possible to make a lot of money selling Mary Kay if you know where to look for customers.

Not too long ago, I posted some thoughts about this process here. Shades of Pink (a commenter here) has written some excellent thoughts on this subject here, here and here. I think though that because of the very important nature of this subject, it is worthwhile to present another perspective.

What are considered good methods of soliciting new business? When should you be persistent? How persistent should you be? When does persistent become pushy? What is the appropriate balance of professionalism and personal interaction? None of these questions have a “right” answer that roundly applies to all situations. Chances are you are going to make a mistake, so relax, figure out which side you would rather err on and set your course! Allow me to illustrate.

In life, we all filter who we choose to interact with based on a number of predetermined factors. Depending on how “outgoing” you are these filters may be very strict or very loose. If you are a so called social butterfly, your filter may be, “I say ‘hi’ to everyone I see; if they greet me in return, chances are we will end up acquaintances.” If you are a so called wallflower, your filter may be, “I never speak unless spoken to, and even then, only if you are absolutely fascinating.” Chances are you fall somewhere in between these two extremes. Your filters may be based on gender (I only talk to females), age (I only talk to people that are older than me), or any number of sets of “qualifiers”. These filters can (and most likely will) change as your life fluctuates. For instance, you may thoroughly enjoy sitting with old men and women and listening for hours at a time as they tell stories from their childhood. But, in the course of time, you get married, have kids, join a bowling league and start a garden. All of a sudden, you realize that you don’t have hours to sit listening to those stories any more. Now one of your ‘filters’ may be that you avoid open-ended, one-on-one conversations with old people.

One of the major things that can influence how we form our filters is starting a career in sales! If you were previously a wallflower, you may need to loosen up and approach some people on your own initiative. You may find yourself evaluating whether or not to approach someone based on things like how likely it is that she would be interested in Mary Kay. It is foreseeable that this could lead to someone becoming a person that is only interested in people if they are interested in purchasing from them. It is these people that are accused of seeing people as dollar signs. So how do you simultaneously avoid striking up unbeneficial conversations and also avoid being so profit focused that you only offer shallow insincere compliments to people that you could care less about? The most important thing is one of the core values of Mary Kay.

From the Mary Kay website:

“Mary Kay made it clear that she did not like pushy salespeople. While tenacity and perseverance are certainly important qualities for success in any sales-oriented business, we have found that the most successful Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultants approach sales and recruiting by consistently applying the Golden Rule; using their own good judgment along with a loving and caring spirit. As a result, when making decisions about your sales and recruiting activities, we always recommend that you put yourself in the other person’s shoes, remembering to treat them only as you would want to be treated. As Mary Kay often said, “You have a wealth of influence, and everyone you meet forms an impression of you by your words and actions. So make the Golden Rule your way of life.”

Treat people the way you want to be treated! It is really very simple. In every circumstance you find yourself, every person that you interact with will be different. If your motives are genuinely to see their best interests come about, you will always succeed. You may find people that are not interested. By letting them know that you appreciate their time and parting ways, you have succeeded in giving them what they really wanted! Shades of Pink makes an excellent point about the difficulty knowing whether a ‘no’ is a ‘no, never, don’t ever ask me again’ or a ‘no, not right now’ and how easy you can figure that out with a simple question or two. When someone says ‘no’, it is not very difficult to ask, “Would you like me to call you again in a few months?” A few simple questions like this one can help you understand what they are really looking for and how you can best serve them!

As you navigate your way through this process of choosing who to approach, and treating them the way you would want to be treated it is very important to remember that if they say no, they are rejecting the product (or opportunity) only. They are not rejecting you personally. Ironically, the old adage, “It’s not personal, It’s just business” can apply here. The rejection you experience has nothing to do with you. Not everyone will want to try Mary Kay. Not all of the ones that try it will buy it. This is where the phrase, “it’s just a numbers game comes in”. As a sales person, you must know your ratios. If you have to talk to 10 people to get someone to try it, and 10 people have to try it before they buy it, and you need 10 people to buy it every week, then you have a lot of talking to do! Using these numbers, you have to talk to 1,000 people every week to get those 10 sales. You may not need 10 sales, but for the sake of argument let’s use these numbers, and assume that each of those ten sales placed a $100 order which resulted in $50 to you and approximately $500/week. This would mean $26,000/year and about $2,160/month. Your goal may be less, it may be more. Talking to 1,000 people may seem outrageous, but this is where facial boxes (or fishbowls?) can be really handy! If you set a box somewhere that a lot of people see it, you can get hundreds of “no’s” that you never have to hear! All you ‘hear’ are the “yes’s”, when you go pick up the box! Regardless, once you figure out what your numbers are, you can adequately examine how many people you need to talk to in order to make the kind of money that you want to make. I believe that my 10:10:10 ratio is probably flawed as my wife is already making this much money and I don’t think that she talks to 1,000 people every week!

Also keep in mind that when you gain a ‘regular client’, the conversions you have with them will enter a different ratio. For people that trust you, like you, and enjoy the product you offer, you will probably find your ratio to be more like 10:10 or 9:10. That is why it is so important that you treat your customers right! My wife has been a consultant for a year and a half and has about 200 clients. Some of these, will call her when they are about to run out. Some of them will order when she calls. Some will say, “I already bought brand x this time”. I don’t know off the top of my head what her ratios are for client re-orders, but I know that everyone I talk to really like their Mary Kay product and have no reason to buy from anyone else!

The bottom line is that if you want people to buy what you are selling, you have to let them know you are selling it. There are many ways to do this. In determining what methods and tactics you will use, keep in mind that the right way is always the best way. When you treat people the right way, they will appreciate it. Treat them poorly, and the first chance they get, they will disappear. It is well worth your while to earn your clients while exercising the golden rule. Your business and your clients will thank you for it!

Please help this conversation out by leaving some of the ways that you have found to be either:

  1. Successful methods you have found for finding clients
  2. Distasteful things MK reps have done that made you cringe

It is entirely possible that something that seems like a good idea to one person is actually incredibly offensive from someone else’s perspective. Your thoughts are always welcome here!



  1. I posted this on your Part 1 thread, but thought I'd stick it here, too:

    I prefer to call "warm chattering" Networking. It is not exclusive to Mary Kay. I think that is what a lot of people tend to forget. If someone is in real estate, you bet they are going to tell people about it. They may have a pleasant conversation with a perfect stranger and may take the opportunity to add, "by the way, I'm in real estate. If you or anyone you know are looking to buy or sell a home, I'd love you to think of me."
    Anyone who is in business for himself is going to have to get the word out somehow. If they don't, the business is going to tank pretty rapidly. I have a cousin whose husband is a chiropractor. He opened his own practice. Guess what they did? They made up little packets with info and goodies inside to spread the word that they were in business. Sound familiar?

    I'll be the first to admit that networking (warm chattering) is NOT my favorite thing to do. I am not outgoing so I tend to talk to people I work with and, therefore, already know in regard to my business. Once in awhile I may meet a friendly bank teller or store associate and tell them I enjoyed talking to them and then tell them what I do. If they think it sounds fun, they'll take my card. If they're not interested, they'll tell me so.

    Stalking? Hardly.

  2. Now I'm going to add what works for me. Talking to total strangers hasn't worked that well for me. What has worked for me is talking to people I already know. The office that I work in has a high turnover rate (yea, it's sad, I know) so we have lots of new hires coming in. I get to know them and befriend them and then tell them I'm in MK outside of our office job. I have booked appointments, gained customers, and increased my client base this way. It's comfortable for me and if they say no, I'm not offended and guess what? We remain friends. ;)
    Also, because I've been open about my consultant status, people in the office know this so if they had a consultant who moved away or quit, they know where to go for their MK needs. ;)

  3. Great advice shades!! For people who are lurking financial advisors
    (Ameriprise for example and others...) are told to collect business cards and do fishbowls..believe me some of those types of jobs are a LOT harder than MK. I have had two of these guys who dropped out tell me if you dont know anyone with money (A lot of money) you wont be successful!!!

  4. I personally HATED warm stalking. I DID feel as if I were stalking people since the ONLY reason I was speaking to them was to hopefully get a sale. Otherwise, I would not have felt the need to tell them their skin looked nice. And I have been warm chattered myself, and have not liked it. You know there is an alterior motive. And I didn't like the scripts I was given on how to overcome the "no". When I tell someone "no" I expect them to respect it and not change my mind. So I hated doing it to someone else.

  5. Shades of Pink,

    Thanks for leaving your thoughts, that is definitely how I see it as well. I think that personality is an operative consideration in how people will approach their method of "getting the word out". Some people are going to tell everyone within a 20' radius of them that they sell Mary Kay. Some people are only going to tell people that they are on a first name basis with.

    I think this is one of the most beautiful things about Mary Kay. All consultants are free to be as assertive or as low key as they feel comfortable. Often, it seems like a really good excuse to 'get in touch' again. I can't tell you how many times I am standing in line with someone and being the outgoing type I am, notice something about them that may denote a connection between us. A concert T-shirt, buying an inordinate amount of sliced pickles, New Jersey license plates, or any of a number of the 'finer details' that I pick up on. We chat for a very short time, and then part ways, wondering if we could have ended up being really good friends, but being too... polite? to ask for a name and phone number. Mary Kay seems like (for my wife) a good excuse to exchange information with someone she has hit it off with, and maybe get together. Because it is a business for her, of course she hopes to demonstrate the product, and further hopes to sell it. But if this is not your personality, it is OK because Mary Kay can be good for all kinds of personalities. Your example is a perfect illustration of how yet another personality type can be successful with Mary Kay.

    My wife likes to ask people what they do for a living. She gets to find out something interesting about them, and it usually opens the door for them to ask her what she does. When she says, "I am a Mary Kay Beauty Consultant", their reaction is almost always a perfect glimpse of whether she should continue - or let it go.

    She has gotten so many varied responses.

    "Oh... that's... interesting..." (glances around the room for exits). Because she knows better than to take this personally, she moves on to more "safe" conversation and mentally checks them off the "list".

    "Oh!! I LOVE Mary Kay!!!! I totally need some ________!!!" I am sure I don't have to tell you how she handles this one.

    "Oh, isn't that the one with the Pink Cadillacs?"

    "Oh, my sister-in-law (cousin, grandma, etc.) did/does that."

    The list goes on, but she can almost always tell immediately whether the person is interested in what she is offering. It is "a part" of the conversation, not the whole conversation. She does not stalk people and pounce on them. She engages in conversation with people and makes sure they know what she does. Whether or not they are interested is completely out of her hands. Once she determines they are not interested, that is the end of it.

    On the flip side of that, there have been people that have said, "No, I am allergic, (or not interested for some reason) but my friend/relative/co-worker absolutely loves Mary Kay and she was just telling me that her MK lady moved/disappeared and she really needs a new consultant. You never know whether or not the person you are talking to would be interested in what you are doing until you ask them.

    I have been reading (a little at a time) your site, and I really like what you are doing there. I finally added a link to you! I am sure that the majority of my readers here are from the community that you are a part of, and it may not be a huge contribution yet. But I am impressed and honored to send anyone your way.

    Again, thanks for being a part of the conversation.

  6. Anonymous,

    Thanks for dropping by. I am a little confused by your comment, but it seems like you are saying that Mary Kay, although difficult, is easier than being a 'financial adviser'. I am not sure that I would be qualified to comment on that. It sounds like you may have spoken to or had experience with people involved in both endeavors.

    Regarding 'knowing people with money', Tom Hopkins, a sales "guru" says:

    "It's sad, but the average salesperson doesn't really believe that getting to know people is the key to every door in selling. They'll say "It's all in who you know" without understanding that most people are knowable - if they'll just take the initiative to contact them."

    I think this is why people should try to get to know as many people as they can, and tell ALL of them what they are doing. Not with the hopes of "selling" every one of them, but knowing that somewhere in the mix, you will meet the people that need/want what you have. You don't have to become BFF with all of them, inviting them over, spending hours of personal time on the phone, etc. Just get to know them, and from time to time, reach out and see how they are doing. As Shades of Pink said, it is better labeled networking. Eventually, someone will talk to them about skin care or financial products or whatever it is that you told them you do, and they will say, "I know someone that you should meet".

    Anyway, I am not sure if you meant to say all that, or something completely different, but thanks for stopping by!

  7. I used to think the way you do, Judi. Then I realized there is a difference between hunting people down that I don't know and making up an excuse to compliment them just to sell a product. That could be construed as stalking. When I changed my thought process and made it my priority to meet a new friend and put MK on the afterburner, it changed the whole dynamic. I know MK is a good product. It has worked wonders on my skin. I have no qualms telling someone that I love the product and asking them if they'd like to try it. If they say no, fine. I have a new friend. If they say yes, I have a new friend, potential customer and maybe one day a team member. There is no pressure involved in that approach. I had to figure out a way to make myself comfortable with networking because if I don't want to do that, then I am never going to succeed at Mary Kay--or any other line of sales for that matter.
    I don't use scripts. Why would I try to make someone else's words my own? All I had to do was find courage within myself to hand someone my business card if I like them and want to establish a relationship with them in the future. Since I wear my pin all the time, I rarely have to speak first about Mary Kay.
    I have a friend that I didn't tell I was in Mary Kay right away. I think she saw my pin and she asked if I sell Mary Kay. I told her yes and she said, "why didn't you tell me? I'll be your best customer!" So, there is definitely a difference between tracking and following someone around a mall like a Mary Kay Commando and having a simple conversation and just before departing saying, "by the way, I would love to offer you my business card. I'm a consultant for Mary Kay. Would you take my card?"

    If either of these approaches makes you uncomfortable, then sales just might not be for you. And that's fine, too. Not everyone can run a business or be a sales person. But, in order to run a business or sell a product (and running a business does require one to sell oneself or one's service) networking is unavoidable. Sorry if that is a repeat of my above comment.

  8. Anonymous, Ameriprise emails me regularly offering me a sales position. I think they have even called me. I have my resume on careerbuilder. At least with MK I don't have to resort to that tactic. People ask me what it's like to be a consultant and I just tell them and then I tell them they can talk with me and my director on the phone for more info if they would like. Guess what? Many of them say yes. And I have signed a few team members after they have talked on the phone with us. I'm always surprised, but then, I signed up on the spot so I guess I shouldn't be so shocked. :)

  9. Judi,

    I hope that after reading here what warm chatter is supposed to look like, you can understand why the version you were taught ended badly.

    If you were not genuine, if you had ulterior motives, if you didn't receive their gentle (or not so gentle) "no" for what it was, you were putting yourself in a very compromised position.

    I don't want to place any further burden on you, but if that is what your director was instructing you and others to do, someone should point out how unethical that is to her. If that makes you uncomfortable, I would be more than willing to talk to her myself. I have set up an email now.

    If you want to email her name and phone number, I would love to have a frank conversation with her and hopefully point out the problems this sort of practice can create. I promise that I would never give her your name, and that I will not be rude to her. I have found that some people don't realize the damage they are doing and an outsiders perspective can really help. If not that, I strongly encourage you to get in touch with her and calmly explain why you felt that what she encouraged you to do was wrong.

    One of three things will happen.

    1. You will find out that you misunderstood her intent and that will help her be more careful in how she describes the process.
    2. She will realize (to a large or small extent) that what she is doing is hurting people, hopefully recognize the error of her ways, and make some changes.
    3. She will ignore you. I am sure that from where you are sitting, this seems the most likely, but if it happens, at least you will know that you have done your part to create a positive change.

    It is my belief that what you describe here is not the way warm chatter is meant to be done, and is not the practice of the majority of successful MK IBC's. I hope that this site will help reduce the amount of times that it does occur, hopefully making it negligible.

    I believe that anyone who tries to employ the practices you have described here, will not last very long, as most women are not taken in by insincere compliments. It does not take much effort to take a genuine interest in people, but if you don't, you will not get far.

    Thanks for sharing your experience, and again, if you would like, email me your directors info.

  10. David,

    Thank you so much for your flattering words. I'm happy that you enjoy my site. I enjoy yours as well. There is always excellent dialogue going on over here! :)

  11. Hi,
    This is a wonderful site. So your wife has been in the MK business for 2 years, I have been in this business almost that time, but dont have anywhere close to 100 cutomers yet, so I would lvoe to hear about how your wife got the business off the ground and how much time she has been investing. I would lvoe to do more and make this a profitable business for me, I believe it can work, but you do need to be consisitent and persistant.
    anyways I would love to hear more, and it is great that you are supporting your wife, I need to show my husband that I can make this work for me and the family. I have little kids so I really want to do this.

  12. Anonymous,

    Thank you, I appreciate all the positive feedback and input I can get.

    I have told my wife about your question and asked her to weigh in a little. She is (as you may imagine) quite busy with her business, so hopefully I will be able to get a response soon.

    I am also going to copy your question to the main page so that the other visitors here can make some suggestions.

    I highly recommend that you check out the "shades of pink" and "pynkmyst" sites as they often have some good advice and nearly up-to-the-minute updates about what they are going through (in life and Mary Kay) They're links are on the right hand side of this blog under the title "other cool things on the web"!

    Again thanks for stopping by and hope you find this site helpful.


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