It was 20 years ago when QNET - a global direct selling company was established in the Philippines. Now direct selling is a thriving global industry that generated USD 189.6 billion in 2017 and involves over 116 million people around the world. The question is what attracts people to be involved in network marketing and what challenges face the industry nowadays. How has QNET grown from a single-product company to one with over 100 products today? Company represented over 100 countries in the world. And is network marketing still a reliable and profitable business? Trevor Kuna, CEO of QNET talked to Forbes about these topics.
What is it network marketing? Is that true that your can make a fortune in it? Or it is simply a scam like many people think?
Network marketing is essentially an established way for anybody to start their own small business, with very little capital, irrespective of their qualifications or experience. All it needs is basically the dream or a vision to do something independently. That is why network marketing is a booming industry today. And can anyone make a fortune in network marketing? Yes, absolutely! Remember, like with any business, you can only reap financial rewards if you put in the dedication, time and effort to make your business a success.
Can you say what differs direct selling from other types of entrepreneurship?
Direct selling requires very little capital, and definitely not as much money as required to start other standard business, say, like setting up a restaurant or maybe food delivery service or consulting services. Also, when you consider other opportunities out there for entrepreneurs, usually when somebody starts a business, they would typically have gone to a business school, or have had some sort of background or experience in that industry. In network marketing however, pretty much anybody can do the business as long as they are of permissible legal age in their country. Also, remember network marketing is comparatively, a very low risk opportunity.
Do you think that it needs some certain skills and not only money?
You know it is actually not so much on skills, it’s actually based on mindset and attitude. Network marketing is more about if you have the right mindset. It does not mean having extensive knowledge to know everything, but you have to know how talk to people and to know how to always be truthful with people and be open with them. Skills can always be learnt but mindset and attitude is what guarantees success in network marketing.
Many people mistakenly think that you can put an equal sign between networkmarketing company and a financial pyramid. What will you answer to them?
Foremost, direct selling is not a get-rich-quick-scheme. It’s a legal business opportunity, and you have to work hard for it. This is in stark contrast to pyramid schemes which are short-lived, actually produce nothing and are based on profiting simply from bringing in new people into the scheme. Historically speaking, pyramid schemes last maybe one or two years and then they collapse, because they don’t actually sell genuine products or services. Now what we do in direct selling or network marketing is based purely on the sale of products and services. Commissions are only paid on the volume of sales generated. And that basically, is a major difference.
Could you explain the process of sale in QNET. Why do you need IndependentRepresentatives (IRs) if QNET is positioned as a company of electron commerce?
When we started in 1998 we were one of the pioneers because we combined the two concepts – that of grass roots direct selling and e-commerce. Now, why did we choose this modality? Simple. Because, word of mouth is by far the most effective form of marketing and advertising. If you look at businesses around you, the products that actually sell well are those that people recommend to each other. And why do we need Independent Representatives (IRs) if we are an e-Commerce company? Because they are our sale force. We develop our products and put them on the website, but its our IRs who actually present the company's products and services to prospective customers, and the opportunity and compensation plan to those who are interested in joining the business
Can you say in a few words how you train this representatives? What kind of mechanism works?
We conduct regular trainings both online and offline, for our IRs around the globe. There are a number of digital training tools like videos on how to make presentations, how to handle objections, how to use the products, etc. In addition, we also have e-learning courses on how to run your own small business and other courses on self-development. We provide as many tools as possible along with our policies and procedures so IRs can build their business, and at the same time understand their obligations of what they can and cannot do as independent representatives of QNET.
Tell us how much does it cost to start a business in Qnet?
Basically it is 30 USD registration fee if you want to become an independent representative of Qnet. When you pay register online, you get access to our virtual office, business tools, marketing materials and more. You also get access to our e-store which is basically where the products and services are sold from. Thereafter, you can either retail the products to others or build your own team of IRs. Products can range from 30$-50$ for cosmetics, nutrition supplements, to Swiss made watches which can cost 1 500$ and more.
QNET has very wide range of products: from healthcare and wellness products to on-line educational cources and vacation club packages, from exclusive Swiss madewatches and jewelry to different food supplements. When a new IR joins the company who will support him, who will teach himabout all these products?
That person who refers the new IR to the business will in effect, be that person’s teacher, his upline. That is the person who is responsible for new IR’s journey in QNET because he or she introduced products and services and the business opportunity to that new IR. Second, as mentioned earlier, the company conducts regular trainings in different languages across the world. During these training sessions, the trainer talks in detail about the product and services, compensation plan, support materials, code of conduct, best-practices etc. These trainings are also available on-line.
What products out of these huge range are themost popular in Georgia and how do you think why?
Georgia has very diverse taste in terms of products. Our popular products range from holiday packages to our online education courses from Switzerland and UK. HomePure, our water filter is also a very popular product and of course, the Swiss made watches for men and women.
What are the main challenges you face in Georgia and how do you overcome them?
I was in Georgia, in Tbilisi in January 2018 and I had the press conference with a lot of journalists and I was asked the same question and the main challenge I see not only in Georgia, but actually around the world and it is not unique to QNET, It is actually a challenge that the industry is facing, In Russia, Europe and Asia this industry is often misunderstood. In the US, where network marketing has a long history it is over 60 years old, the industry is respected. As a result of this misunderstanding misrepresentation occurs. That is why we train, train and train our IRs. On-line and off-line. We want them to present our products and compensation plan as transparently and clearly as possible, thereby avoiding any negativity that could arise through misrepresentation/misunderstanding.
You will agree with me that reputation of QNET is not as good as you want it to be. Can you tell us how you deal with it?
As I mentioned before -. Training, in one word – Training. For the last year and a half we have executed Qnet pro training Initiative – it is a special course about Business Ethics. Particularly in Georgia, we trained around five thousand of our IRs since the beginning of this year and more training programs is scheduled before this year ends. So the only thing that we are focusing on right now to improve the reputation to the company is purely on training our IRs on how to conduct themselves.
We have also brought a product EXPO to Tbilisi this summer – to let people see and feel our product and services to get consultations from our professional trainers and experts. We conduct those EXPOs all around the Globe regularly but it was our first EXPO in Georgia
Do you think that it had results and the activities that you’ve implemented were an efficient steps?
I believe that the feedback is positive. It has been nine months since I was in Tbilisi and I’ve been getting very positive feedback that the behavior and practices have changed. So the IRs in Georgia have taken it much more seriously than I’ve seen in the other places. They take it to another level and they understand that they are QNET’s brand ambassadors in Georgia. So,everything they do and everything they say, represents the QNET brand.
How interesting a Georgian market for QNET is?
From a business perspective, Georgia is a very important market for us. We have been here since 2014, and the business has steadily grown to make Georgia one of our very stable, dependable markets in this region. It is pretty much a role model for the company-customer-community partnership we espouse. The entrepreneurial spirit of the IRs that I met in Georgia is very high. I see that they are very much determined to make a contribution, positive contribution to a community. I really see and feel that this business is all about helping other people. So, what I see in Georgia is that passion for the country and passion to always give back to the community thats why I see a lot of corporate social responsibility initiatives in Georgia. I see that Georgian IRs are very much willing to give back.
As you mentioned social responsibility issue I would like to ask you about charity, as Iknow, charity activity is very common for QNET. can you just say a few words about charity activities?
The philosophy of the company is ‘Raise Yourself to Help Mankind’. Our founders have always advocated the need to work towards a goal beyond financial success. They believe that money is primarily a tool that must be used to raise peoples’ lives and make a lasting impact. Of course, many IRs do not think about charity when they start the business. And it is understandable that most of them think about business first. But after some time, they become inspired by our philosophy and our initiatives, and help and support us. Moreover it becomes a two way street: our IRs initiate different charity activities themselves. And QNET (I mean the corporate body) comes to support them. It is obvious that giving away is even more fulfilling than to receive. This New Year we celebrated with our IRs in the Gldanski orphanage. And it was difficult to tell who was happier - the kids or our IRs and employees. And not too long ago, we visited Khurvaletty orphanage with a concert of classical music and a cake of course.
What about your anniversary? Can you talk about 20th of anniversary you had this year? And what are your future plans, I mean future plans for maybe another 20 years and especially plans with regard to Georgia? And what is Qnet’s secret of success?
Frankly speaking we are always going to focus on training, not only in Georgia but in the CIS region as a whole. I’m driving QNET agenda 2019 onwards to make sure that we have better products and services, also that we have better training tools to help Georgian IRs understand the products, to have better marketing tools for the customers to understand the products. I think that the training and development of IRs is major key for our success for the next 20 years. And I think Georgia whatever said and done, beside the fact that it’s a small country , I see that it has got so much potential when it comes to that desire and demand or QNET products, for business opportunities we provide. In terms of QNETs secret to success, I honestly think that it has been our founders, it’s been our network, our IRs. Not just in Georgia, but around the world, our IRs have been so passionate, and that combined with our philosophy of ‘Raise Yourself To Help Mankind’ is really what makes QNET so different, so successful.