The Network Marketing Product Life Cycle: The Four Stages to Building a Downline

Most products, whether they are tangible goods or intangible services, go through predictable stages during their natural life. In marketing circles, this is often referred to as the product life cycle. These stages are (1) product development, (2) introduction, (3) growth, (4) maturity, and (5) decline.

Your network marketing business will behave in a similar way, that is, it will go through various stages as you work towards achieving your financial goals. Since I would like to have a positive view, I will not consider “Reject”. Instead, I offer four stages your downline will go through as you build it for success, what I call the Network Marketing Product Lifecycle: (1) Introduction, (2) Development, (3) Growth and (4) Maturity.

1. Introduction. This first stage is when you are new to the business and have not yet developed the skill set necessary to be successful in MLM. You may not have developed the “gut strength” needed to get through some initial setbacks. If you haven’t participated in a network marketing program before, you are probably making mistakes and hopefully realizing that you have a lot to learn. You should also beware of well-meaning people who will tell you that you will not succeed, especially family, friends, and co-workers.

During the Introduction, you are trying to develop a track record of success that you can fall back on when you meet some resistance. Many new networkers quit because they listen to all the naysayers instead of maintaining that burning desire to get through the tough times and stay the course.

If your sponsor hasn’t worked with you to arm you for success, it’s up to you to arm yourself. Hear advice from some of the giants in this industry: David Butler, Jim Rohn, Bob Schmidt, Sherman Unkefer, to name a few. They will teach you the skills you need to have the confidence to move forward.

2) Development. Congratulations. You have passed the first stage and you are building a downline. Now, be a good sponsor by showing your downline how to be successful. Here your goal is to help them recruit their downline. If you’ve done it right, you should start to see business builders spring up. Hopefully, you have a few who share your vision and you can start working with them on an ongoing basis to build momentum.

In the Development stage, you should see people coming into your downline that you don’t know. These are your personally sponsored distributors bringing YOUR personally sponsored distributors. Now is the time to make sure your people are teaching your people how to be successful, meaning that they are also good sponsors. At this point, you should have a feeling that the business is starting to take shape, that it has a chance to grow on its own.

However, you must beware of complacency. This is the most important time because you need to build an organization that can grow on its own. The vast majority of people who leave network marketing do so during the first two stages, so don’t leave your downline. Keep working with your builders so they don’t go out of business.

3) Growth. At this stage, his checks should start to look a lot bigger. Your builders are increasing your downline, and several successful legs may emerge. You may have hundreds, or even thousands, of distributors in your downline, and your business builders are also earning bigger paychecks.

Congratulations again. If you are at this stage, you have shown that you have the ability to teach business builders how to recruit and develop their own business builders, and the downline has definitely taken on a life of its own. You feel great about yourself, and you have every right to do so.

Here again, however, you must guard against complacency. You can earn a good living in the growth stage, but you are not yet free from your home. You have to move to the next stage if you really want to create wealth.

4) Maturity. Your organization has reached Maturity when you no longer have to guide its growth. In other words, no matter what you do, you can’t stop it from growing. It has taken on a life of its own, and even if you were to walk away from active involvement in the business, you can depend on a steady stream of passive residual income for the rest of your life.

Isn’t that why you got into this business in the first place?

Reaching Maturity is rare. Many downlines approach this stage but fail because the leader quit too soon. Remember, if he doesn’t nurture his downline, if he doesn’t give them a path to run, if he doesn’t build their confidence and arm them for success, he won’t reach the Maturity stage. Rather, your organization will likely fade somewhere between the Development and Growth stages, and reaching the Maturity stage will be nothing more than a pipe dream.

Make it your goal for your downline to reach all four stages. When your personally sponsored distributors believe they have reached the Maturity stage, then you can feel confident that you have reached that stage. Otherwise, your organization may never reach its full potential.

For your success!

Bruce Bailey, Ph.D.

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