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Direct sales: Meet the business builder

As part of a wider story looking at what retailers can learn from the direct sales industry, we profiled Isagenix distributor Ben Frost.

Ben Frost has been a full-time distributor for Isagenix since 2016. Isagenix is a “full nutritional system” which Frost reluctantly agrees could be described as a supplement. Its range includes products targeted at athletes, those seeking weight loss and weight gain.

Frost currently has around 680 people in his network – 85 percent of which are customers, and 15 percent are distributors like his best friend Sam, whom he has signed up. He has training and guidance responsibilities towards his downliners.

Mentoring, culture and training were all a drawcard into the network marketing company, with Frost having jumped ship from his engineering job at a vulnerable time in his life.

When he was introduced to Isagenix by distributor Adam Nesbitt, Frost had recently left a six-year relationship, was “trying to come out of a negative environment” and leave some toxic friendships he’d forged in the past. 

Being diagnosed with a bone disease in his early twenties meant that he was keen to seek out a business environment that emphasised health.

“For me it was definitely a personal growth journey in the first year.”

“The people that you surround yourself with as being part of a company” is what attracted Frost to network marketing and Isagenix in particular. He had previously felt attracted towards the idea of being an entrepreneur but says Isagenix was more appealing because it’s simplified and comes with a lot of organisational support.

“When you run your own business online, you’re kind of on your own,” Frost says.

He experiences Isagenix as not just a business proposition, but a holistic community. 

Asked what preconceptions he had about multi-level marketing prior to entering the category, Frost reveals he came to Isagenix with some negative experiences. During the 1980s, Frost’s father was involved with Amway – Frost remembers seeing the products around the house but says the model “didn’t really work” for his family.

It was a different era, says Frost, with a different company. He feels that Amway’s different structure made successfully making money much more challenging, but he reports that he’s found it easy to win a profit with Isagenix.

“Network marketing does have some dodgy stuff going on.”

Frost feels the structure’s sketchy reputation is “definitely” justified, especially during the 1980s. He feels that during the time his father was involved, it was common for network marketing companies to operate unethically, offering a lack of support and changing the rules on their contractors, but doesn’t believe Amway was at fault for his father’s lack of success.

“He didn’t get screwed over, he just didn’t work hard enough at it,” Frost says of his father. 

Frost believes that those who are wary of network marketing companies are in fact intimidated by the opportunities they represent, and seek to “make excuses in order to keep being lazy and not doing it”. He accepts that some may have had a bad experience but says as he doesn’t consider himself to have had one.

“It’s tough because people tend to like to bag it for being not legit, but I think it’s because everyone has the opportunity to do network marketing.”

“It’s helped me with my success because I’ve been so open to it.”

Other stories in this series include:

Direct sales: Meet the upliners

Direct sales: How multi-level marketing works

Leveling up: Exploring multi-level marketing in New Zealand​

This story originally appeared in NZ Retail issue 760 February/March 2019

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