If you’re in the world of network marketing, you’ve probably heard of Tom “Big Al” Schreiter. He is the man who has influenced the industry at large. He’s built huge organizations, influenced companies, and influenced generations of distributors. In this episode, Big Al joins host John Solleder to share the simple secret behind closing deals as network marketers. Don’t miss out on expert tips from the man himself by tuning in.
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Tom “Big Al” Schreiter Tells All Part 1
It is a privilege to introduce for the first time to some of our younger readers somebody who’s had such an amazing impact in our industry for many years who I learned a great deal. That’s a Big Al himself, Mr. Tom Schreiter. Tom, welcome. Thank you so much. I appreciate you being on the show.
This is perfect.
In 1972, you got involved in the industry. What was your introduction?
I answered a little ad in the paper. I was looking for part-time work. My wife was pregnant and she said, “You don’t make much money. Better find a part-time job.” This ad says part-time business. I’m thinking, “Part-time job for the rest of my life? That doesn’t sound so good. How about a part-time business?” I answered the ad and they said, “Come down to this meeting.” It was in the basement of a shopping center called Ford City Shopping Center in Chicago.
I show up there. There are 150 deranged, hippie, communist, weird people jumping up and down on stage, talking about strange things falling out of their colons. It’s three hours long. At the end of this meeting, I’m sneaking out the back. This guy stops me and says, “Are you the person that answered my ad?” I go, “Yes.” I’m thinking, “There are 150 people there. How did he know that I was the one that answered his ad?”
Later on, I figured out that I was the only guest. I couldn’t sneak out during the meeting. There are armed guards at the back of the room. I said, “I listened to the whole thing. It’s not for me. I’m out of here. Thank you.” For three hours, it had no effect on me. They’re weird people. He used a skill called a word picture, one of the many skills we learned in network marketing and 30 seconds later, I joined him. I learned a lesson that it’s not the facts, information, meeting, three-hour testimonials, company videos or slides.
As far as making a decision, I also learned it could be done in 30 seconds. Thirty seconds later, I joined. Here’s what I did with that lesson, nothing. I went out and gave a 45-minute back deal presentation to people who said no. I figured they didn’t have enough information. It’ll stretch you to an hour and a half. That went even worse. I got my biggest lesson when we started by accident that it all happens in 30 seconds. We should learn to control that. That’s how I started. It was bad.If we can learn to talk to people, some basic skills, we're set for life. We'll never be unemployed. Click To Tweet
I started in 1 year and 10 months in absolute failure. I don’t want anybody here to think that I had this persistence. People used to say, “You must have been persistent.” No, I wasn’t. I didn’t know you could quit. Nobody told me that. I never had any downline. Quitting never occurred to me. I was a naïve 22 years old. That’s how it is.
What would you say that turned it around all of a sudden? What was that magic moment where you said, “I can do this?”
After 1 year and 10 months, my wife said to me, “I’m pregnant with child number two. Is your business coming along?” I had to tell her the truth. I told her it was consistent. She didn’t like it that much. She says, “You either got to figure out how to make this work or do something different.” That’s what happened.
Tom, you have how many books total?
Almost 50 over my career.
You’ve spoken in over 100 nations. This is tough with a career like you’ve had and your career is still going. What do you think is the greatest impact that you’ve had on the free enterprise system, network marketing and more importantly, people growing themselves? What would you say are the greatest impacts as you look back on these years that you’ve had?
I started as a shy, nerdy personality, free charisma bypassed, a socially challenged engineer. I should not have been let out in public. What I proved was that you don’t have to be this super outgoing, charismatic, take no prisoners, the eye of the tiger, the vision of an eagle or other dead animal body parts. It shouldn’t have to do any of that. You can be personality free and do well in this business if you learn a few basic skills. I tell people, “You probably didn’t start as bad as I did, useless with no skills but if we could say a few words, everything changes.”
After 1 year and 10 months, I changed a few words and magic happened. People started joining and said, “Could you tell us what you say?” I said, “Say these things and then people join.” That’s what happens. People couldn’t believe it was that easy. I was able to build huge teams by saying the right words. I’m not an Instagram model. I’m not charismatic or an influencer. I say, “If you say these words, people join. Get on with it.” That’s how it works.
I’ve traveled a lot in the last several years. You’ve been to a lot more places than I have even but you and I met in London. I was working with a company that opened over there. I want to say this was about 1992 but who knows? As the years go on, the decades become like a year. I have a lot of young readers. For whatever reason, the young folks seem to like them even more so than the guys in our age group. They seem to read them and it resonates with them. We’ve got some young readers that are not familiar with Big Al. Let me give the audience my two cents on Big Al and why Big Al is business-changing material.
It made so much sense when I read that little book. I met you in London. You spoke at one of my events. I bought your book as did our team, Big Al Tells All I remember. I’m sure it’s there in a collection somewhere way back. It was so logical that we run after sometimes these prospects that are going to be superstars because they work for some big company and big city and they know one million people. We invest so much time and money in the wrong direction. We forget our next-door neighbor who we can walk next door and have a cup of coffee with. That made so much sense to me. It helped me to build my business.
I want to thank you for that on behalf of myself and my family because it helped us to understand the business in a simple way and duplicate it tens of thousands of times over the years. Was there an actual Big Al? Let’s talk about that and have some fun with it. Tell me about Big Al and tell the audience, more importantly, how that impacts them, not only with 2-on-1 sponsoring but also with that logic of how they prospect.
Big Al was a mean practical joke played on me by former friends. It’s an embarrassing story. It stuck but if you can remember, I came from Chicago. They hooked me up with Al Capone, the Big Al and whoever else there and it was embarrassing. Despite all the embarrassment, we learned that our job is to get people to make a decision. The company makes the products. They can ship the products. They have customer service, lawyers and all this stuff.
Our partnership with the company is pretty simple. They do everything. All we have to do is get people to say yes. I tell people, “We got the greatest deal in the world. The company has to do all this work with customer service, shipping and all this stuff. All we have to do is get people to say yes.” We’re in the yes decision business. People ask you, “What do you do for a living?” “I’m in the yes decision business.” That’s it. That’s the only thing we get paid for. The company doesn’t pay us for presentations or attraction marketing systems getting people to say yes.
Here’s the dilemma. We go to a party and people say, “What do you do for a living?” We say, “We get yes decisions.” The people say, “How do you do that?” We go, “I don’t know.” People are thinking, “You’re an idiot. You don’t even know how to do your job.” If you think about it, people don’t know how they make decisions. They think, “I don’t know how to make decisions. I’ll wait for lightning to strike, little voices talking in my ear or some hormonal flare-up or 15,000 reasons or 14,000 reasons against. How does the human mind make a decision?” They don’t have any idea.The way the brain works is it can't learn anything unless it can compare it to something that it already knows. Click To Tweet
In network marketing, we learn how it works and this is awesome. The company says, “All you have to do is get people to say yes. We know how it works and we get paid.” He says, “What a license to print money.” The Big Al system is going with your sponsor and getting in front of people. All we’re paid for is to talk to people. John, you and I notice how people come up with these gigantic autoresponder systems, funnels, chat boxes and all these things.
They spend a fortune on these systems, go through all these funnels and stuff to finally get somebody to talk to and don’t know what to say. I’m thinking, “If you got to spend all this attraction marketing stuff to get it to happen so you have somebody to talk to, can’t you spend $5 to buy coffee for the person next door and save all the middlemen? It would be a lot quicker.” They said, “They may not be as good as a prospect as some.” Those are miserable prospects I’m getting on my attraction marketing system so it’s the same. If we can learn to talk to people and some basic skills, we’re set for life. We’ll never be unemployed.
I remember reading that in the early ‘90s. I started with one company and then they had a problem with the FDA. I was in college when I started. You could imagine a company in the early ‘80s. I got out of network marketing and went into the life insurance business for a short time with Metropolitan Life. It was the same thing in that business. Every new agent had a cousin who was a sales manager at General Motors. They do 10,000 people, a group plan and retire to Tahiti.
The lady next door who had a new baby needed insurance for the baby and probably for herself and her husband. She was like, “I don’t want to talk to them. That’s a small commission.” It was the same logic. I don’t know why human beings are wired that way for the big deal, instead of going out and writing business, be it in insurance or network marketing. I love your thoughts on that. You understand how the brain works and those synapses that either lead to the super success like you’ve had or frustration like many people have. I love for you to talk about that a little bit.
You don’t have to be a neuroscience scientist. You can look at human nature and figure this out. I don’t encourage people to read neuroscience papers like I do because I’m a nerd. Look outside the door. One of the easiest things to notice is people are reactionary. They don’t think. They just react with no thinking involved. An example would be we walk down the street and say hi and a stranger will normally say hi back to us. It’s a simple reaction with no thought process.
We walk into a store. The sales clerk says, “Can I help you?” What do we normally say? “No. I’m just looking.” People don’t use their brains. That’s the reaction thing going on. We do tons of these. You smile at people. They smile back. People are reactionary. They don’t use their free will. They just react. Let me see. Everybody’s telling me no. I wonder who they’re reacting to? When that was pointed out to me, to start, I say, “This is embarrassing.” I was at the scene of the accident every time they said no.
When we started learning what was going on, it was pretty clear. There are so many balls in the air. We’re trying to figure out a compensation plan. The human mind is not even set up for Math. Math does not work in the brain but stories do. We’re trying to figure out all these things and missing the big picture. We’ve got to get people to say yes. You can say, “How do I get people to say yes?” Give them an option. “The option is the wonderful thing we offer or keep your miserable life the same.” No rejection. You stand back easy.
Say, “I’m going to gift you another option in your life. You can take it or keep your miserable life the same.” Depending on our experience, we can make our options sound pretty good compared to waking up by the alarm clock, commuting to work, having a boss who doesn’t care about you, no job security and having 100% of your income in one basket, which is being guarded by a dysfunctional boss. It doesn’t take much skill to make what we have looked a whole lot better than a job. All I have to do is give people that choice and then you’re not scared of closing. It seems natural.
Let’s segue a little bit and talk about what’s going on. Here we are in 2022. I don’t think we need to tell anybody what’s going on in the economy. They see it whether they live in Thailand, Dallas or Timbuktu. The world is in a lot of pain financially. I’ve asked this question to some other people, some friends of yours that have been on the show like Randy Gage, Larry Thompson, Dan McCormick and some of the guys that I’ve interviewed previously. I got to ask you this question and I’d love your viewpoint on this.
Let me set this up for you. We all know those people who had no interest in network marketing because they had a degree, a profession or even a trait. They’re like, “Network marketing is not for me. Those are pyramid schemes,” whatever their perception was of the great industry that we understand is so wonderful, powerful and freeing of people but they have that wrong perception.
All of a sudden, the little thing called COVID happened that changed the world and the economy. Here we are in 2022. Let’s say that it’s a hypothetical family I’m making up here but it’s a 25-year-old son. The son is a guy that went to school, got good grades, did what he was supposed to do, got a degree, went to college, spent a bunch of time and money, started his business career, doing whatever it was he was doing and all of a sudden, COVID happened.
Dad is a guy, 60-ish, was got to get into the end of the road thinking, “My 401(k) or set retirement plan is looking pretty good. I’m going to get Social Security.” He’s scoping out all the golf courses in his town, the fishing holes or whatever it is he’s into saying, “That’s what I’m going to be spending a balance of my life.” All of a sudden, we know what happened.
They say, “Tom Schreiter lives down the street from us. I wonder if we went and knocked on his door if he’d give us a few minutes of his time and shed some light on this network marketing industry and direct selling industry. We don’t understand it. When you’re not up on, you’re down on but we think we better take a look at it because of all the circumstances that exist in the economy. We’re open-minded. Let’s go talk to Tom and see what he has to say.” What would your guidance be to that dad and his son who would knock on your door?
The macroeconomic issues are way over my head. I don’t give it any thought. I let the economists argue over who’s going to be wrong next. I ignore all that. I have a very small bandwidth. To the 60-year-old father, he says, “It’s probably pretty late to save enough money and at 0.25% compound interest from the savings account to build up your residual income when you retire.”People make up their minds quickly. If we know this, we can get decisions quickly because we understand what's going on. Click To Tweet
“What are your choices?” “The choices are a residual income from network marketing.” “How long is it going to take you to get a $500 or $1,000 a month residual income?” He says, “It could take a year.” I say, “What’s your pension?” “$2,000.” “How long did that take?” Forty years.” “I got it.” “You could do this for a couple of years.”
“What about the 25-year-old?” I say, “You got some college bills there, huh?” He says, “Yes, besides inflation and everything, I still got to pay the college loan, which leaves me with negative cashflow every month.” I say, “Let’s build a part-time income for you. At least it will pay off your college loans. Would it be okay if your college loans are gone so you could have a part-time business to it or continue paying yourself? It’s not a hard choice.”
They say, “How do you do it?” I say, “Here’s where a little brain science would help. The way the brain works is it can’t learn anything unless it can compare it to something that it already knows. You tell it something brand new. The brain says, ‘What do I relate that to?’” The word analogy is a good word for us. You say, “This is like this. What does chocolate taste like?” You can’t tell people what chocolate tastes like unless you can compare it. “Licorice is better but more sugar.” You always have to compare it to something.
You can’t have a new idea make any sense. That’s why Math is hard for the human brain. There’s nothing to hang our hooks on. I said, “How am I going to tell them network marketing in a way that they can relate to what they do?” You tell them a little story because a story is a preferred way of learning by the human brain. You can say, “We go to a grocery store. I buy a diet Coke and 44 bars of Snickers. The clerk says, ‘That will be $100.’”
“You’re right behind me in line. You order a diet Coke and 44 bars of Snickers. The clerk says, ‘That will be $100 but we have a frequent shopper’s card.’ You say, ‘What’s that?’ He said, ‘You get points every time you buy. You’ll save up your points and go to Hawaii or pay off your college debt.’ That’s network marketing. You just repeat. The clerk says, ‘If you let other people know they can get a frequent shopper’s card when they buy Snickers and anything else they buy at the store, we’ll give you some extra points. You can go to Hawaii quicker or pay off your college debt quicker. That’s it. Recommend our store. Have him get this loyalty card.’”
“We both went to the same store. I’m out $100. You’re out $100 but you got a whole bunch of points. You’re going to go to Hawaii and I’m not. When you introduce it to some other people, you get a whole lot more points. It might even pay off your college debt, maybe buy your college and give you the grades you always wanted.” They say, “I can see that happening.” Network marketing is recommending and promoting what you like. That’s it. You give people a choice. It may work for them or not but we can’t prejudge people. We don’t have the right to withhold options from them. We should at least give them the option to say yes or no.
What a brilliant analogy. That’s what I love about listening to you and reading your stuff. It’s so logical. It speaks to where people live versus all of this high pollutant craziness. That’s a simple logical explanation of how our business works. Tom, let me ask you about these words of wisdom. You always say, “Short is better.” Give us some examples.
There’s a thing called TikTok, which holds people’s attention span for a second. We prejudge and we’re off to the next one and so on. That should start giving us a hint of how quickly the human mind makes decisions. Here’s why shorter is better. That’s how the human brain thinks. If you want to get technical, Microsoft did this big study that the human attention span is eight seconds. Goldfish is nine but goldfish don’t have social media so you can expect longer.
You’re like, “Microsoft has billions of dollars. What about me? I have this cool presentation that lasts an hour.” You’re so toast. People make up their minds quickly. If we know this, we can get decisions quickly because we understand what’s going on. When I do this, people say, “People have to know the name of the company, the compensation plan and the background of the founders. They have to compare that my scientists can beat up your scientists.” I’m like, “Really? That’s how humans do things?”
Let’s go an aisle four of the store we’re shopping. We see a box of cornflakes. What do we do? We’re looking at our cart and go, “A box of cornflakes. I wonder if they have a company website. Tell me about the founder. Are the cornflakes natural, international or supernatural? Can their scientists beat up your scientist?” That’s not how we think. We just make up our minds. I do a little demo for people because I get criticism all the time. They say, “People make decisions after the facts and presentation.”
Let’s try this. I’m going to say, “Can I take your children skydiving with me?” How quick was your decision? For most people, “You can’t take my babies.” Someone will say, “I’ll help push them out of the plane. They’re miserable.” The decision happened before the information and before you found out that I’m a certified skydiver. I’m successful 3 out of 4 times. We’re only going to jump 1 inch. The decision happened before.
What about when you go on YouTube? How long does it take you to decide if you want to continue watching this video or not, five seconds? Let’s imagine that you and I are doing a meeting. At the meeting, you say to the group, “When the meeting’s over, Big Al and I are going to the ice cream parlor for ice cream. Who wants to come with us?” Half the people raise their hand and half the people don’t. They’re thinking, “I’m lactose intolerant. I have a babysitter at home.” How quick was the decision?
They made the decision before they knew where the ice cream parlor was located, before they knew how many flavors, how many kilo calories, how much saturated fat, if you’re going to buy or if they had to pay for themselves. The decision will happen way before that. I can do 13 or 15 of these in a row. Finally, people will say, “Stop. I got it.”
When they do that, they can throw away the company video, the PowerPoint presentations and the macroeconomy and say, “It’s good and bad news.” The bad news is people make up their minds in the first fifteen seconds. The good news is we only have to be good for about fifteen seconds.” Once we know that, that’s how you get the duplication. If you can make that first fifteen seconds rock, you pretty well have it in tow. That’s the advice I give people.The bad news is people make up their minds in the first 15 seconds. The good news is we only have to be good for about 15 seconds. Click To Tweet
It’s amazing because I’ve never thought of it exactly like that. Whether it’s in my current company or the other four that I’ve built over the last several years and been intimately involved with, I see people sometimes who, by all rights, shouldn’t be successful. You know their background. They don’t speak well, maybe. They don’t have all that stuff that you would normally think of that successful guy or gal and they’re killing it. You look at the other guy or gal. They walk in. They got the Armani suit and jewelry. Every hair is in place and they look great.
Two months later, you can’t find them. Six months later, you can’t even remember who they were. You just remember that they crossed your path. What you said there made so much sense because it’s the people who decide, “I’m doing this. Get out of my way. I’ll figure it out,” versus the ones who say, “I need all of this justification that I then have to turn around and justify everyone else why they should be in their business who take care of their financial house and get their financial house in order.” What you said is brilliant.
We’re going to do two sessions because Tom is beyond a legend. He is a person who has influenced the generation of network marketers. There’s nobody you talk to in our industry that does not know and reference Big Al. They try to make it their own sometimes and pretend that they created something.
This is the guy that created, wrote about it and lived it. He built huge organizations and influenced companies and generations of distributors. Let’s talk about all of your past books because, in session two, we’re going to pick up and start talking about your new book. Let’s talk about the books, where they would get them and whatever else you want to share.
All the Big Al books we send to Amazon, Kobo or Apple Books. They take care of it. I tell people, “Go to Amazon. They have free shipping for a lot of people. They’re cheap on Amazon. The $2 that Amazon makes can help them stock up on toilet paper for the next pandemic.” We found that was the cheapest way to get the books to people. They’re all inexpensive.
I tell people, “It’s $12.95 for a book and on an eBook, it’s less than $5 or for $6. They’ll read it to you. How cool is that?” Learn. I write books about skills as far as the macroeconomic strategy overall, where the industry is leading and all this. I’m way over in my head. I never went there but if you like to know what to say and what to do to get people to say yes, what happens and the basic skills, that’s what I talk about. That’s why I’m a legend. Legend means old. That works.
I don’t know if you know Joe Garcia or not but he certainly knows you. He’s a top guy in his company up in Toronto, Canada. I’ve interviewed him a couple of times. Every time I’ll send him back on Facebook or whatever we correspond on, I say, “You’re a legend.” He’s like, “I’m not old enough old like all of you.” Tom, this has been a privilege and a pleasure.
We’re going to come back and do a second episode. You’re not going to want to miss it because Tom’s going to share some of his insights. All I can tell you is hang onto your hats because you’re going to learn if you haven’t learned a lot from this session. Hopefully, you have and you should. Hopefully, you’re dedicating these notes from Tom to your notebook so that you own them. They become your things to go out and influence your generations of the field and your business with.
- Tom Schreiter
- Big Al Tells All
- Randy Gage – Past Episode
- Larry Thompson – Past Episode
- Dan McCormick – Past Episode
- Amazon – Tom “Big Al” Schreiter
- Kobo – Tom “Big Al” Schreiter
- Apple Books – Tom “Big Al” Schreiter