From the December 2017 issue

Why I’m OK with Mom Sales Pitches

'They're just making a living,' a metro Detroit mom of three says. Read her opinion here.

So you don’t like it when your friends or Facebook “friends” ask you to buy essential oils, jewelry, skin care products, diet shakes, purses, workout pants or whatever else moms these days are selling?

Here’s a simple solution.

How about telling them no thanks and/or take the less confrontational route and block their alleged 6,000 social media posts?

I hear (and read) lots of moms complaining about how much they hate seeing their Facebook feeds filled with information about how one person just found the greatest facial regiment and can’t wait to share it with the world or how another is hosting a fun evening with wine and great clothing they happen to be selling. Those complaining say they feel harassed, pressured and exploited by the sales tactics of their friends and acquaintances.

More than 20 million Americans are involved in these types of sales, called network marketing or multilevel marketing (MLM). Whatever you call it, it’s been around for decades. Our mothers and grandmothers sold Avon, Mary Kay and Tupperware. The main difference between us and them is they didn’t have the internet to hawk their wares. They went door to door. And friends and neighbors couldn’t go online to complain about their sales methods.

Nobody likes a pushy salesperson and, for various reasons, those involved in MLM have gotten a bad rap for being overly aggressive in their recruiting and sales techniques – one reason possibly being that their earnings increase based on their ability to sell and recruit other sellers. What’s wrong with rewarding an employee for his or her hard work? My husband owns a business (not sales) and does it all the time.

If the sales pitches get to be too much, have a frank discussion with that friend and tell her you wish her all the success in the world but you’re just not interested in buying whatever product she happens to be selling. If she persists, firmly but politely tell her if you change your mind you’ll let her know and hopefully she will see the value in your friendship and stop.

I have never attended a purse party, been enticed by food and wine or accepted an invitation to an in-home party (due to lack of interest in most the products my friends sell or have sold). I have purchased a handful of things from people I know if I’m interested in their products.

Maybe I’m just lucky, because I have yet to feel pressure to buy something or attend a party. When I do get approached, and it happens a lot, I don’t feel like that person is exploiting our friendship. I honestly believe that my friend thinks her product is really great – and why shouldn’t someone have a chance to legitimately earn money?

It can be difficult to balance work and family, and I know moms who don’t work because the cost of child care is simply more than the income they’d be contributing to their family. Selling essential oils, jewelry, skin care products, diet shakes or any of the myriad items moms are selling is a great way for them to generate an income from home.

In 2015, the last time the Direct Selling Association collected data, it reported $36 billion in MLM sales that year. That’s a lot of money, which means a lot of people are buying a lot of products from their friends and families.

Many of these items – clothes, makeup, etc. – are things we buy online, in department stores and other retail establishments. If you like, want or need their products, wouldn’t you rather support a friend than Target or Nordstrom?

Berkley mom of two Claire Charleton is fed up with mom sales pitches. Read why here.

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