Tom “Big Al” Schreiter on the Best MLM Tips from 45 Years
Tom “Big Al’ Schreiter really needs no introduction. He is a 45 year network marketing legend and author of numerous books. Here is our interview.
This is incredible! To be able to interview the one and only Tom “Big Al” Schreiter. There is so much I want to ask you, but I will stay focused on getting the most value for network marketers. So, let’s get started Tom Schreiter!
You discovered network marketing roughly 45 years ago, the same years I was born. What were you doing before network marketing and how was life growing up for you?
I studied engineering, but I ended up doing high-level mathematics. In other words, I was a nerd. Personality-free, charisma-bypassed, socially-challenged, and should not have been let out in public.
And, to make matters worse, I took my engineering skills into network marketing. The first lesson I learned was, “If you are going to start a brand-new profession, you will have to learn a brand-new set of skills.”
We don’t learn network marketing in school, from our previous job, or from our parents. We have to learn the basic 25 skills of network marketing if we want to succeed at a high level.
It is just like flying an airplane. We can have a good attitude, and be highly-motivated, but if we don’t have skills … we die.
Chanting affirmations, creating vision boards, getting inspired at company rallies … well, that is part of the business. But unless we have skills, we will have to keep our day job for the rest of our life.
What was your first network marketing event like, and did it change your perspective on network marketing?
It was awful. I attended a meeting where a bunch of anti-government, socialist hippies jumped around on stage. They talk about weird health theories and strange things falling out of their colon.
The meeting was full of hype and fake enthusiasm. I was way out of my comfort zone. Thankfully, today we don’t do these things. I guess we learned over time that these behaviors turn people off.
Technology has changed network marketing a lot, but what has been the one most constant aspect of network marketing that hasn’t changed?
Network marketing is a person-to-person business. Technology doesn’t change that all. We only need a few good people to share our common vision to have a successful career.
The downside of technology is that we contact hundreds of people and failed to build long-term relationships.
The people who build multiple transactional relationships end up losing their downline and switching company to company. They never build a long-term residual income.
So technology is not at fault. In fact, it can be an asset if used properly. And while most people are busy doing transactional relationships, we can make it easier on ourselves by simply focusing on a few good people.
What is the biggest benefit of starting a network marketing business and why should someone start one?
My son, Keith, wrote an entire book on the subject, “Why You Need to Start Network Marketing”. And it is free.
I like the book because it is good for prospects and new distributors. There are numerous awesome benefits of network marketing that we don’t know about when we start.
We can pick and choose which benefit we would like to take advantage of. And, if a prospect reads this book, they may be attracted to a benefit that we would not have guessed.
In my case, I was attracted to time freedom. I wanted to travel. That was impossible with only a two day weekend. Money was not a motivator for me when I joined.
Anyone can download and read the book free.
I’m sure you’ve dealt with a million objections from prospects. What’s three of the most common objections and what are your answers to them?
In the beginning we get lots of objections. We create them by what we say and do. After learning just a couple basic network marketing skills, most of these objections go away. When people are skeptical about this I give them an example.
Let’s say that you constantly get the pyramid objection in MLM. Do we cause that?
Well, we don’t see people walking down the street, and suddenly they throw their arms up in the air saying, “It is a pyramid!”
So yes, our objections come from what we say and what we do when discussing multi-level marketing.
But what should we do in the meantime before we learn the skills to sell network marketing and direct selling opportunities? Well, here is a little template that we can use to handle many objections. There are dozens of these different templates we will learn eventually, but let’s start with just one.
The first rule of objections is that we should always agree with our prospect. We don’t know what their previous experience has been. So their objection may be perfectly legitimate.
If we don’t agree with our prospects, we create resistance. No matter what we say, they will not be listening. While we are talking, they are thinking of what they are going to say to support their position as soon as we shut up.
Let’s say that our prospect has the objection, “I need to think it over.”
- Allow the prospect to make a “no” decision.
- Point out the consequences of a “no” decision.
- Allow the prospect to make a “yes” decision.
- Point out the consequence of “yes” decision.
So our answer to, “I need to think it over.” …
“Relax, it is okay to make a decision not to join, and to continue to get by on one paycheck. But, it is also okay to make a decision to join, and have that extra paycheck pay off all your debt so you can lead a less stressful life.”
What was network marketing like for you in the first few years and what was the biggest lesson you learned from that time?
My first two years were a disaster. At the end of one year and 10 months I had no distributors and no customers. I was using my engineering skills. It was like watching a train wreck in slow motion.
The lesson I learned? We have to learn the hard-core skills of our business. We have to learn to talk to the decision-making area of the subconscious mind.
We have to learn train sequences of words for icebreakers and presentations. We have to learn how to create instant trust and rapport within the first 45 seconds.
And we definitely need to learn the existing programs and our prospects minds.
How much of this that I know for my engineering skills? Zero. In my results proved.
45 years ago there were no books or audios to teach us the skills. Fortunately now we know the skills and have good explanations so people can learn the skills.
You have a great book on “Ice Breakers.” What are your top 3 favorite icebreakers to get someone to look at your opportunity?
“I am just curious…” This sequence of words will open their mind to at least hear the message I’m about to deliver. For example, “I am just curious, would a three-day weekend work better for you than the current two-day weekend?”
“Most people…” This sequence of words will cause the prospect to want to be with the “most people” group. For example, “Most people would like an extra paycheck.”
“Well you know how…” This sequence of words tells the prospects mind that they already believe what we are about to say. For example, “Well you know how jobs interfere with our week?”
I wrote the book on “Ice Breakers” because that was the most requested skill from the distributors. But of course, they don’t know what is really important.
The step before ice breakers is much more important, but new distributors don’t even know what steps go into getting a prospect to make a decision.
What step should they learn first? How to build trust, belief, and rapport. Because if our prospects don’t believe us, no matter how good our following statements are, they won’t believe us.
What is your advice or main points you discuss with a new rep?
When new people join our business, they think everyone will want to join or buy the product or service. Why do they think this? Because that is what we told them at the opportunity meeting or presentation.
Of course, this is not true. While the reality is that most people need what we have to offer, the new person will describe it so badly that almost no one will join or buy.
Rather than crush the new person’s confidence, it is better that we teach in the skill, “needs versus wants.” This skill explains that while almost everyone needs we have to offer, most people don’t want it.
We take them through a series of five small stories to illustrate this. When we are finished, the new distributor will naturally begin marketing to people who want what we have to offer, instead of to people who need what we have to offer. Now their chances of success go way up.
97% of people who try network marketing quit. What is your opinion on attrition and do you have any suggestions on reducing it?
Of course they will quit. This is our fault. When a new person enrolls in our program, how many skills do they automatically get? Zero.
So unless we give them skills immediately, we are sending them out as human target practice waiting to die. We have abandoned our duties as a sponsor.
These people are motivated, they joined. But, they have common sense. They go out and use untrained words.
Their prospects say no. Because they have common sense, they say to themselves, “I won’t use those words anymore. But my sponsor has not given me the correct words to say, so I’ll just sit here and wait for my business to die.”
One of my favorite books by you is “How to Build Network Marketing Leaders Volume One: Step by Step Creation of MLM Professionals.
You have a very honest style with no fluff. You mention in the book: “Unsuccessful distributors are always looking for someone else to make them successful.”
Can you explain more on what that means?
Of course unsuccessful distributors hope someone else will make them successful.
They can’t do it themselves. They would like to, but they don’t know how.
They don’t know what they don’t know. So they can even research to find out what they don’t know.
This is why every new distributor has a sponsor. We are the ones to show them the skills they need to learn immediately. And hopefully we have mastered these skills sufficiently so that we can teach them to them also.
Now, if we haven’t personally mastered the skills, at least we could send them to some books or training where they can learn these skills on their own.
Nobody becomes a dentist by just hoping and cutting out pictures for a vision board 🙂 They will have to learn the skills to do their business.
Here’s another one on accountability: “Most of the top networking leaders today had upline sponsors who were total jerks or even dropped out of the business. They made their success from their own efforts, not from handouts and special gifts and favors.” What does this mean and who is it for?
There is an old saying, “Most successful leaders were sponsored by somebody who wasn’t.” The point is, we are responsible for our own success. We can’t be a victim and blame upline sponsors. However, it is nice when her up line sponsors do their job and help.
You co-author some books with your son, Keith Schreiter. How does he enjoy the network marketing profession?
Keith started from age 16. When he was young, he simply used the telephone. He said, “No one knows how old I am on the telephone.”
So, that is all he has done his entire life. He likes the time freedom also. Of course, it is easier to believe in network marketing if you grow up in a home where that is very natural. If we grew up in a home where our parents ran a restaurant, owning a restaurant would seem natural also.
You have a few powerful videos on YouTube. One is called “Magic Words.” How will grasping the psychology of words help someone in network marketing?
For Words? That is all we have. If we say the right words, we have a chance. If we say the wrong words, we are dead. Words are everything. People will judge us on our words.
If we want to do this as a career, we have to learn trained sequences of words that work, instead of using random oral diarrhea.
What’s the biggest mistake you see new network marketers do these days?
Beginning network marketers believe that information and presentations have something to do with getting prospects to make a decision.
This belief is the biggest anchor to our career. It is like a giant millstone around our neck holding us back.
Once we leave information, our business will start to flourish. They won’t know this and we start. This is our obligation to teach them this.
You were on a cruise when I contacted you. How much travel has the network marketing profession enabled you to do, and what is your life like today?
My original goal was to earn enough money to travel world. That hasn’t changed. I have spent my whole life traveling and seeing the world firsthand while doing network marketing.
But this is a personal goal. Not everyone shares a passion for traveling. Some have a passion to stay home with the family, some to earn massive amounts of money, and for others, the chance for personal development is the most attractive part of network marketing.
That is why I recommend for everyone to download the free book,”Why You Need to Start Network Marketing”
This will give us lots of ideas of what network marketing can do for us. And, give our prospects lots of options also.
If we present network marketing as just one more option in our prospects’ lives, they won’t feel pressured. They will be much more open to our opportunity.
Your is your favorite book right now and why?
My favorite book is always the current book I am reading. One of the definitions of leaders is, “We are professional students of the business.”
Everything we have learned has taken us to where we are today. If we want to go further in life, we simply have to learn more.
Learning is the first half of the equation. The second half is, “Learning and not doing, is the same as not learning at all.”
What is your favorite quote and why?
“As humans, we are incredibly closed-minded and arrogant. We actually believe that what we think is the truth is TRUE, and that what someone else believes is just THEIR OPINION. This arrogance and foolishness sticks us with our beliefs, blinding us to any other possibilities — possibilities that may propel us toward success.”
This quote is by Richard Brooke. Learning requires that we change our current beliefs. Most of us have experienced what it is like to have a conversation with a totally closed-minded individual.
Our choice is to learn, or remain where we are. I hope the readers of this interview will make the decision to make learning a lifelong habit.
Thank you so much for this interview Tom! This has been so powerful, and full of the honest fire and wit of classic Tom “Big Al” Schreiter.
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