We use job titles to communicate our knowledge and expertise.
A job title conveys who we are, what we do, and how we do it… summed up in a few words.
I have noticed a trend in the MLM and Direct Sales community, where reps portray themselves using inaccurate or even deceptive titles. This can be especially destructive in the healthcare industry, because unsuspecting patients are tricked into believing the MLM rep is a qualified healthcare provider.
Sure, it can be fun to design an attention-grabbing title that sets you apart from the crowd (I use the title Strategic Risk Expert); but when it goes too far, your potential customers may be confused at best… and be harmed at worst.
When MLM reps use deceptive titles to diagnose, recommend, or provide medical care, it can result in broken trust, lawsuits, damage… and even death.
In this post, you’ll read a list of titles that are Accurate, Ambiguous, terms that Misrepresent, and some are just plain Ridiculous for MLM reps to use.
A Bit About MLMs
Before I start, you should probably know that I believe Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) companies operate with a faulty business model. They are, by their very nature, designed to take advantage of vulnerable people by luring them into the promise of great success, but with very little chance of actually achieving it.
Check out my other posts on this topic:
- What’s the Difference Between Brick-and-Mortar, Franchise, Direct Sales, and MLM?
- 7 Reasons MLMs are So Attractive to Established Business Owners [Video]
- Why I Hate MLMs: My Story [Video]
I also shared an in-depth post called 199 (Potentially Dangerous) Titles Used by Direct Sales and Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) Reps, which describes 3 types of job titles:
- Titles That are Accurate and perfectly fine for MLM reps;
- Titles That Misrepresent one’s actual talents and abilities;
- Titles That Impersonate a highly trained professional.
4 Kinds of Job Titles in MLM
Today, I want to provide examples of job titles in these categories:
- Titles That are Accurate and perfectly fine for MLM reps;
- Titles That are Ambiguous about the actual work being provided;
- Titles That Misrepresent one’s actual talents and abilities; and
- Titles That are Ridiculous and which shouldn’t (in my opinion) be used by anyone.
Each of the titles listed in this post are actual titles that are currently being used by individuals who actively promote Multi-Level Marketing companies.
Accurate MLM Rep Titles
So what should an MLM sales rep be called?
I think it’s important to start with proper definitions of these terms.
Here are some titles and definitions that perfectly describe what direct sales and MLM reps actually do.
Definition of “Independent Contractor (IC)”
Someone who is hired on a contract basis to perform specific duties (such as generating sales) [i.e. Contractor], assumes full risk for their success or failure [i.e. Independent], and is paid on a production or commission basis.
This is a perfect definition of what an MLM rep does.
Definition of “Preferred Customer”
A highly valued [i.e. Preferred] recipient of a good, service, product, or idea obtained from a vendor via a financial transaction [i.e. Customer].
This title conveys the importance on which MLM companies place their “contractor/consumer”; because their actual products are priced much higher than market value, the discount they offer to customers who sign up as reps places those customers in a “preferred” status.
Definition of “Enthusiast”
Someone who is very involved and interested in a topic or activity.
This is a perfect description for what most MLM reps do. Unfortunately, many MLM companies use cult-like methods to exert control and manipulation on others.
Read more: 11 Ways Multi-Level Marketing is Like a Cult
Definition of “Sales Representative”
A person selected by a company to solicit business [i.e. Sales] on its behalf in a specified territory [i.e. Representative]
Again, a fairly good description of MLM reps.
Definition of “Direct Sales Associate”
This can be divided into two models:
- single-level marketing, where the salesperson makes money by buying products from an organization and selling those products directly to customers; and
- multi-level, where the salesperson earns money from both direct sales to customers, and by getting a commission payment for sponsoring new sellers who work under them.
Another accurate title for MLM reps.
Definition of “Network Marketer”
A person who acts as an independent agent or distributor of the goods and services of a distribution network; they are also encouraged to build their own sales force by recruiting and training other independent agents. (source: BusinessDictionary)
Somewhat accurate; MLM reps operate under a “Network” that is created by the company, and which relies on additional representatives to promote it.
Definition of “Promoter”
A person who helps to generate interest, raise money, or support a cause or aim.
This title is often used by MLM reps. Most promoters are not required to buy the products, use the products, or recruit others to sell (all of which are standard practices for MLMs).
Definition of “Distributor”
An independent agent who enters into an agreement to sell a company’s product but is not entitled to use the manufacturer’s name as part of its business name.
This is often used by MLM reps, although it sounds more like a traditional “Direct Sales” position because the agent must act independently (and is not required to use the products themselves).
Definition of “Team Member”
A person who belongs to a specific group which endeavors to reach a common goal.
An MLM rep could possibly use this term, although the main goal for most reps is to receive products at a discounted rate and earn money to repay their own (ongoing) investment in the products… so… yeah.
Definition of “Sponsor”
In Multi-Level Marketing, this is a person who recruits someone to join their MLM group. This person (and all levels above them) is considered the recruit’s upline and receives a percentage of the recruit’s sales.
A very common term used in the MLM world. See Upline
The titles Independent Contractor, Preferred Customer, Enthusiast, Sales Representative, Direct Sales Associate, Network Marketer, Promoter, Distributor, Team Member, and Sponsor are fine for MLM representatives to use, because they make it clear the job is to consume products, sell products, and recruit others.
MLM Rep Titles that are Ambiguous
Other job titles fall into a “gray area” for MLM reps. These titles allows significant ambiguity, because the reps can appear to have abilities, skills, or authority that they don’t actually possess.
Ambiguous titles include:
Definition of “Buyer”
1) A person who acquires ownership of goods, or usage of services, in exchange for money.
2) A professional who specializes in selecting raw materials, goods, or services based on market analysis, purchase negotiations, bulk buying, and coordination of delivery. Also called a Purchaser. (Source: BusinessDictionary)
An MLM rep does not actually “select” or make final determinations about the manufacture, quality, or selection of the goods they purchase; their only choice is how much they want to buy from pre-selected stock from one source.
Definition of “Reseller”
A company or individual who purchases goods or services with the intention of selling them rather than consuming or using them.
This is the opposite definition of an MLM rep, since one of their primary goals is to use the products themselves (and often invest in more products to remain “qualified”).
Definition of “Sales Associate”
An employee of a company whose primary task is to sell the company’s product or service.
Technically, an MLM Contractor should not use this title because she or he is not employed by the company.
Definition of “Ambassador”
An authorized high-ranking diplomatic official who is sent by her or his administration to serve as a permanent representative to another entity.
This title is used so frequently in MLM circles that I believe we have lost sight of what it actually means.
Definition of “Specialist”
An individual who has special training, skills, and proven abilities to provide value to customers. Can include
- Personal Trainer,
- Health Coach,
- Nutrition Specialist,
- Health and Wellness Expert,
- Makeup Artist,
- Skin Care Specialist
Again, these titles suggest a level of expertise and aptitude that very few people can actually achieve. Unless the person has achieved a legitimate level of training from a recognized institution (not a “diploma mill” or from the company itself), none of these titles should be used.
Definition of “Marketing Director”
An individual who is hired to oversee and manage a company’s ability to create, keep, and satisfy its customers including branding, product promotion, new product development, market study, and customer relationship management.
I have actually worked as a Director of Marketing and Communications in a “traditional” company. My role did not require me to sell pre-packaged, overpriced products… or to recruit new talent in a pyramid-shaped structure.
What “Marketing” Actually Means
On the topic of marketing…
I spoke to Helen Woodruffe-Burton PhD, Professor of Marketing at Edge Hill University in the UK about consumer behavior in the MLM industry. She said she is particularly frustrated by the misuse of the word “Marketing” and defines it this way:
“Marketing is the art and science of identifying needs and providing products and services that meet those needs, are easily available, and support the foundation of enterprise and economic activity.”
Dr. Woodruff-Burton says that Multi-Level Networking companies often use a predatory selling method that involves “shilling, shystering, trickery, deceit, false promises, and quackery.” MLMs have, in her opinion, tarnished the legitimate profession of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour.
Titles such as Buyer, Reseller, Sales Associate, Ambassador, Trainer, Specialist, and Marketing Director should be used with caution, because they indicate a level of knowledge and expertise that most MLM sales reps do not have.
MLM Rep Titles that Misrepresent
Some MLM representatives use titles that do not properly describe their role in Direct Sales or Multi-Level Marketing.
Misrepresentative titles include:
Definition of “Entrepreneur”
An individual who takes great risks to create something new in the marketplace.
Very few people have the right to use this prestigious title. It is tossed around so much that we often forget just how difficult it is to actually become an authentic entrepreneur. Proceed with caution before using this one.
Business Owner, Small Business Owner, or Boutique Owner
Definition of “Business Owner”
An individual who has partial or full financial control of a business entity and receives a financial profit from its success.
Technically speaking, an Independent Contactor is a business owner; however, there is a difference between operating a standalone business which generates profit margins, and one that is totally dependent on an outside organization to control all income generation, marketing efforts, and the customer sales funnel.
In my opinion when someone is paid on a commission-only basis and has neither financial equity in the company nor influence on the strategic decisions, she or he should NOT use the title “owner.”
Definition of “Founder”
A person who establishes or sets up an institution.
This word comes from the Latin fundator, meaning “to lay a foundation” or “one who casts metal.”
There’s a big difference between agreeing to sell products with tight parameters and very little control over the process (which is exactly how MLMs operate) and launching a new business independently.
Each of the above titles (Entrepreneur, Owner, Founder) are not appropriate for any MLM sales rep, because it gives the false impression of employment status, control, or ownership which the rep does not actually have.
Ridiculous MLM Rep Titles
Now let’s talk about the zany, silly, and off-the-wall titles that some sales reps like to use.
Check out my list of 199 (Potentially Dangerous) Titles Used by Direct Sales and MLM Reps to find some strange—even bizarre—titles that are actually being used by sales reps.
The ones I find especially annoying are:
- “BossBabe”— A woman who presents herself as a successful business owner or entrepreneur but actually exaggerates her accomplishments (often used by Multi-Level Marketing promoters). Although this term is intended to encourage female strength, it can be perceived as demeaning and exploitative.
- “Girl Boss”—an enthusiastic young woman who has no particular talent or skillset yet is eager to gain fame and/or money on platforms like Instagram and YouTube. Another term that can be perceived as exploitative.
(Grace’s Take: A “girl” is a term reserved for females age 17 and younger; any female over age 18 is—and always should be called—a WOMAN.)
- “Goal Digger”— Someone who wants wealth and is willing to work hard to achieve it. (A play on “Gold Digger,” or someone whose relationship is motivated by a desire to gain money and stability).
- “Hustler” or “Girl Hustler”—in my opinion, the word “Hustler” insinuates a pushy, gritty, and possibly lewd type of work. This term can be perceived as exploitative; is it really the impression you want to give?
- “Opportunity Creator”—this title is confusing. What kind of “opportunity” is the person trying to “create”? If it’s a sales/recruitment role in an MLM, I recommend staying far away.
- “Results Getter”—another one that isn’t my favorite.
- “Sexpert”—this one is being used by MLM reps who sell intimacy toys and products.
- “Success Coach”—although it could be a legitimate job title, this one seems like a stretch.
- Any title beginning with or ending with “-preneur”:
- Creativepreneur [“creative” + “entrepreneur”]
- Entrepreneur-ess [“female entrepreneur”]
- Fashionpreneur [“fashion” + “entrepreneur”]
- Fempreneur/ Femtepreneur [“female” + “entrepreneur]
- Ladypreneur [“lady” + “entrepreneur”]
- Mompreneur or Mumpreneur [“mom” + “entrepreneur”]
- Multipreneur [“multiple” + “entrepreneur”]
- Solopreneur [“solo” + “entrepreneur”]
- Soulpreneur [“soul” + “entrepreneur”]
- Spapreneur [“spa” + “entrepreneur”]
- Wellpreneur [“wellness” + “entrepreneur”]
Use titles such as these at your own risk.
As with everything, the way we present ourselves to the world is often experienced differently by others than what we may expect.
While it may be tempting to “fake it ‘till you make it” and bend the rules, I don’t agree with using subversive job titles to gain a sale. Anyone who portrays their qualifications, business services, or fraudulent product claims just to generate more sales runs the risk of being mistrusted, hit with a lawsuit, or even causing irreparable damage.
Take some time to evaluate the words, phrases, and terminology you use to run your business. How do you define key words? Consider making a Definitions List of your own; see my example here.
Examining the potential risks to your business (such as how a job title or other phrase could be perceived as misrepresenting your expertise) can allow you to increase your level of risk intelligence.
If you want to discuss practical ways to move your business toward your goals, let’s talk.
Can you think of any other MLM titles that aren’t on this list? Comment below or send me a message!
For more information about Multi-Level Marketing companies, check out these resources:
Interested in hearing how you can reverse a toxic workplace? Find out more here.
Grace LaConte is a business consultant, writer, workplace equity strategist, and the founder of LaConte Consulting. Her risk management tools are used around the globe, and she has successfully reversed toxic work environments for clients in the healthcare and non-profit fields. Grace specializes in lactation law compliance & policy development, reducing staff turnover after maternity leave, and creating a participatory work culture.