Tuesday, July 21, 2009

AmeriPlan: Is it a scam?

At a time when health care is the rage in the news, the premise of AmeriPlan couldn't be more sound or relevant: Provide health care discounts for those who are uninsured or under-insured.

AmeriPlan is not insurance, so for those who have insurance with little or no deductible, then there is no discount that can compete with free. However, AmeriPlan membership can provide a discount for those services not always covered by traditional insurance. AmeriPlan delivers on the promise of providing a discount for dental, vision, massage, chiropractic, prescription, elective/cosmetic surgery, and numerous other programs. I was attracted to AmeriPlan because, as a self-employed individual, I had no health insurance. AmeriPlan was great from a member standpoint, and an economical value. It is not a scam. I saved money on prescriptions, contact lenses, etc. So while Congress debates over having America join the 21st century along with the other industrialized nations that have national health care insurance, AmeriPlan serves as a viable alternative for the millions of Americans with existing preconditions and the need to see a doctor.

However, I thought I'd add AmeriPlan to my business portfolio and sell it as a distributor. AmeriPlan is marketed using network marketing. Because it's a health care discount program rather than insurance, a distributor didn't need a license to sell the product. I, too, was seduced by the stories of people earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a year selling the product. My distant upline happened to be a married couple of high rollers. They were real people and not actors. I actually shook their hands and touched their Bentley.

My experience in AmeriPlan allowed me to touch real real people making real money in their network marketing business. Yet the same experience made me realize that there must be something that they're doing, some closely guarded secret that they're not sharing, that gives them their competitive advantage. They told me, and the rest of their downline, to make a list of friends and family, harass everyone who comes within 3 feet, purchase leads, cold call them, etc. They told us to purchase DVDs and literature and leave flyers in laundromats, grocery stores, car washes, etc. Prospects promised to come to opportunity meetings but stood me up. Some stood me up even when I went to pick them up. My upline told me to attend national conventions for inspiration and education. The company definitely made more money from me than I did from them. My upline told all of us in the downline that AmeriPlan differed from other network marketing plans in that distributors carried no inventory and because we were paid daily. However, after investing hundreds of dollars into my AmeriPlan business and realizing little to no profit, I became one more statistic, one more of the 97% who failed, quit, and almost declared bankruptcy.

My advice to a new AmeriPlan distributor is to concentrate on retail sales rather than sponsoring a downline. If you have professional sales and marketing experience, then the niche to concentrate on in retail sales is group sales. But the average person marketing AmeriPlan with the intention of developing a downline of 1000 people is a mistake. Health care isn't sexy. Like insurance, it's a topic most people prefer to procrastinate and not to think of until they need it. Sales to groups requires special AmeriPlan training. Indeed, the bigger the group, the less likely an average person without connections can bypass the gatekeeping secretaries to speak to an actual decision-maker. In fact, the bigger the group, the less likely AmeriPlan's headquarters may want an average person to make a presentation to, say, General Motors. Group sales under such a contract would require high-level negotiations in a realm that the average person usually isn't privy to. Moreover, a great deal of professionalism is involved in large group sales because over-zealous misrepresentations could expose AmeriPlan to lawsuits. However, there's plenty of smaller groups for beginning distributors to address. As far as individual sales are concerned, these are challenging, but not as challenging as recruiting downline distributors one individual at a time.

I'm sure this post will get nasty comments from AmeriPlan bigwigs tell you that AmeriPlan is far from saturated, that a new distributor can rise through the pyramid and become as big as his dreams, and yada yada yada. True, with 40% of Americans having no health insurance, then it is possible that the market has not been saturated. However, AmeriPlan has been in business for more than 15 years. It is possible that the company has achieved its maximum market share and critical mass. At some point, a prospective network marketer should look at a business from an investor perspective and decide if selling AmeriPlan is the best use of his/her investment. I recommend the product from a retail customer perspective, but recommend that potential network marketers look elsewhere to invest their money and effort as distributors.

What are the closely guarded secrets that give the top network marketing earners their competitive edge? Find out more at www.thebestYOUbrand.com.

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