INTERVIEW

Kristen Gonzalez, 200k VIP Brand Promoter, Le-Vel

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Kristen’s interview was among my favorites; I was referred to her as a “true salesperson,” so was surprised to learn she was naturally quite shy before her current buoyant personality revealed itself. Kristen was one of the most passionate interviewees about the product she sells, which is very evident in the text of this interview.

Indeed, Kristen’s interview and her passion led to me trying, then buying, the Thrive Vitamin system. They say the best salespeople are easily sold by other great salespeople, so I hope that’s what happened here.

Please note the references to travel were pre-COVID.

You can read Kirsten’s full biography here

Jamie: Kristen, what have you found most fulfilling about your career thus far?

Kristen: First off, I love that I can help people because my career is in health and wellness. I love that I can help people live to their fullest every single day, physically, and mentally. I help them fill in nutritional gaps which I get so many messages of people thanking me for telling them about what we do; about how things that have changed in their lives as far as their health. It’s very, very rewarding to get those messages, and then personally, I love just living life on my own terms.

I’m my own boss, I don’t have to ask for time away I don’t have to answer to anybody, because I’ve been a teacher before this, and as much as I loved being a teacher and being with the kiddos, when I asked for time off, I got told “no” sometimes and that motivated me to get back to something that I love doing. I was helping people and I was living my own life, my own options. I have a one-year-old son, so I love that I can be home with him, and creating those memories with him. If we want to go to the zoo, we can go to the zoo; if we want to go to Florida and visit my family, if we want to go wherever, and I don’t have to ask somebody if it’s okay. Financially, I’m in an industry where we’ve got residual income and it comes in every single Tuesday; I know that it’s still going to be there. It’s very rewarding and fulfilling that I can live life the way I want to.

Jamie: What’s the best thing about being in sales?

Kristen: It’s finding people who have a need and filling those needs. Some needs, they might not even know that they have so bringing awareness to it, and then just helping them live a better quality of life because you’re feeling their needs, but that’s through maybe selling a product or service or maybe you’re coaching yourself, whatever it might be, you’re just helping other people fulfill some of the needs that they have.

Jamie: Why did you originally go into sales?

Kristen: It was back in college when I heard about an internship. I was a communications major, but I was actually very, very shy. I hated to order pizza because I didn’t want to talk to people on the phone. I hated being in McDonald’s; going up and ordering my meal. So what better way to get over that fear than go knock on doors, in a state you don’t know, where you’re going to live with people that you don’t know, really going outside your comfort zone, and then learning how to handle people – all different types of people? That’s why I went into sales, and – I’ll be really honest – I got to a point where I actually started hating sales.

I just didn’t like talking to people. I knew I needed to do something to get over that fear, because in life, I was going to have to deal with people no matter what I did, and I’d have to speak to different types of people.

I hated rejection. I don’t like being told “no.” I knocked on doors for four summers, and then recruited people while in school. That was fun. I enjoyed it. But then I got to a point where my heart got to a place where I didn’t feel like I was helping people and my mindset wasn’t right. It wasn’t there. Then I went into teaching and I did that for about three years and then I realized, that I didn’t want to do that either – we all go through journeys in life. While I was teaching, this opportunity that I’m in now came to me but initially, I was very reluctant. I told my friend that I did not want to go into network marketing, I didn’t want to sell things and be about the numbers game; I didn’t. I didn’t want to do meetings or calls or parties or any of that stuff and she said, “That’s okay. You don’t have to.”

I just fell in love with the products. I knew if the products were helping me, then I’ve got to help some other people too. So, even though it’s “sales,” it doesn’t feel like selling to me. I’m just sharing and being a messenger of what’s available that people might not know about. Technically it’s sales because it’s a product that I’m selling they’re paying for, and I’m kind of just the middle person, but it’s very fulfilling and my mind and my heart are in the right place. It doesn’t feel like I’m selling something, I’m just sharing it with them.

Jamie: How important is having conviction in what you’re selling?

Kristen: What I do, it’s a health and wellness system. First thing when you wake up, you take capsules, then you drink a lifestyle mix, and then you put on this little sticker that’s coated with nutrients. I thought it was a joke, but I was like, “Okay, let’s give it a shot.”

I was so tired. I wasn’t happy with the way I looked. Mentally. I just was kind of lazy. I knew when I was selling those books, I was motivated and I was driven and all that and so I wanted to get to that point with these products, with these premium grade vitamins. I thought it was going to help me and it did. It was easy. It was something I could do. I personally started noticing changes in me. I was happier, I was motivated, I was losing weight, I was focused, and I just thought I was being the best version of myself.

Since I knew what it was doing it for me, my fiancé, at that time, he started taking them too. He was noticing changes, and his focus was better. He was having better workouts. I saw first-hand multiple people who were using the products we’re working for. I knew that I was convinced because I knew what I was doing for me for people that I cared about around me. I just wanted to tell other people about them because I knew it’s going to work for them too.

Jamie: In Thrive or the Le-vel organization, is everyone in sales? 

Kristen: Yes. I’ve actually got about six thousand promoters under me and we’ve got about forty thousand customers. It’s all happened really quickly, in just the last four years. Some of my team, what they want is to go to the promoter side; I think they want a better life for them and their family.

They want freedom. They want to be able to live life on their terms. They want to be able to not have a glass ceiling, whereas maybe in some of the other careers, you get capped out at a salary. In sales, the sky’s the limit, and you determine what your income is. If you are a hard worker, and you believe in what you’re doing, and you’ve got the drive and motivation, you’re going to reap the rewards and the benefits. 

Seeing how they can better their family from having that vision and finding the motivation to make it happen, it’s great. I don’t think you always have to be a people person to go into sales like people often think. Because I wasn’t a people person before I started selling books, but I knew I needed to get better with dealing with people, and I threw myself to the wolves. I knew I was a hard worker. I remember my parents telling me that this summer I would work at Universal Studios, a theme park in Orlando, Florida. I would make seven dollars an hour and that was pretty good; not too bad. I remember my mom saying, “Kristen, you come home for the summer and just go work at Universal, you’re going to make seven dollars an hour.” When I said I was going to go sell books, my Dad was like, “You don’t know what you’re going to make? What if you don’t make anything?” and I’m like, “Yeah, but what if I make $30,000? That’s not going to happen at Universal at just seven dollars an hour, I’m worth more than seven dollars an hour. I’m going to prove it.” That was my motivation with the sceptics, and I had to convince even my parents.

Jamie: Would you recommend that any personality type or type of person goes into to network marketing sales?

Kristen: I think you’ve got to find the right products and company for you personally. I think you’ve got to find what is you and so you don’t feel hesitant when you’re talking to people, because I’ve done things like where I felt icky.

But now, I’d rather message someone about Thrive. I’d rather call somebody and tell them what it was doing for me and what it could possibly do for them like it was my soul was on fire. I just wanted to tell every single person about it and my passion was so sky-high that I wanted to spend every minute doing “sales.” 

When I started with Le-Vel, almost four years ago, I wanted to put any extra minute I had into it. I was a full-time teacher. I was a cheerleading coach. I taught Sunday school. We were trying to buy a house. I just moved to Texas from Florida, and I was trying to make friends. So much was going on around me.

While working full time as a teacher and everything else, I was able to replace my teaching salary within eight months of starting my network marketing company, because I was just so excited about it and then, once I left, going full time into it, we had hit the second-highest rank in the company the month after I quit teaching, and then we had the top rank in the company just eighteen months from starting. Our team was on fire and hitting the top rank in the company in eighteen months is really rare. I think from what I’ve seen with other people that go network marketing, I think it’s your excitement, your passion, your belief, and being a cheerleader and rooting for everybody else that’s got that vision with you – just linking arms and running full force.

Jamie: In terms of the people you’ve seen succeed in Thrive and in network marketing, have you seen any advantages in terms of age, gender, physical appearance, or similar?

Kristen: Oh, my gosh, no way. Not for us, at least, we’ve got men, we’ve got women, we’ve got people who are twenty years old, who are at the top-ranking the company, we’ve got people in their seventies who succeed in our company.

I couldn’t classify one type of person that “makes it” – it’s just somebody with the drive, the determination, and the grit, the passion and the perseverance; the passion for what they do, and the perseverance to make it happen. People in general give up on themselves too easily. Whether that is in network marketing – especially in network marketing – but some other sales careers where they get “no’s,” they get rejected, they come across problems because they don’t know how to solve and they just they throw in the towel and give up on themselves way too quickly, where they’re probably right on the brink of success and if they had just stuck it out a little bit longer; they’d be excelling.

Jamie: Are there additional sales skills needed to be a good network marketer, above normal sales skills?

Kristen: Coachability, following in the footsteps of other people who have done it. I think sometimes you could try and do it your own way. But if people have already figured out a way that it works, why would you not just do what they do? It’s just like in sports. Yeah, being coachable and following the leader, and doing what they do is just what I teach my team. We have a sales funnel, and that’s just what we follow. It’s been proven and it works. So just follow those things over and over with consistency. Being consistent is another thing too, that’s why I think that some skills that people should have are consistency and coachability. 

Jamie: What are the biggest challenges for winning business in network marketing?

Kristen: People are just sceptical of the industry. They think it’s a scam. And unfortunately, I guess network marketing in the past has had some negatives. Things happened – either the companies weren’t ethical or maybe the products weren’t that great. So, the current companies that are doing it, people think it’s a scam, a pyramid scheme, blah, blah, blah. As for pyramid schemes, I mean, my last career was a pyramid scheme, I wasn’t going to make more than what the principal was making, then if I became principal, the superintendent made more than her, so I feel you actually have more flexibility in network marketing than other careers.

People are closed-minded too. I think a lot people are just that. You think about life the way you’re been brought up in life, right? I call it a factory, because you go to school – and I was an educator – you go to school and you’re taught to answer the questions, learn just the things that are on the syllabus, but no one ever teaches you to be an entrepreneur.

No one ever teaches you to start your own business or to think differently. They just work you through this system, and then after you come out, you have a nine-to-five job, you hate Monday, you’re making it through Hump day and you’re looking for the weekends. No one really teaches us to challenge that mindset.

People don’t believe that network marketing works and they’ve probably seen a lot of people fail in it because those people give up on themselves or they’re not consistent with it or they’re not coachable, and maybe their mindset is just that you need to trade time for money.

You go to a job, you get paid, you come home and it might be hard to change that mindset. When you have the right products and the right company, people are seeing success from it. We’ve made close to two hundred millionaires in this company and it’s only been around for six years. I alone have ninety people on my team that are getting their cars paid forward as an auto bonus, which I know that in some companies, only a select few get that. It’s possible for the success to happen if you believe and have an open mind that it’s going to happen.

Jamie: Would you recommend network marketing to any salesperson?

Kristen: Heck, yeah. Like I said, you got to find the right company that’s going to really help with achieving your goals. Just really look-out for what they have to offer, the products and the stories, and what the products are doing for people, because I’ve been in some companies where it is a little bit more challenging. What you put into it; that’s what are you going to get out of it, obviously.

For me, it’s a good time, I’ve enjoyed it, I love my team, I love using social media and learning how to post. I love being an inspiration and knowing I can help somebody. I think in network marketing, you have an ability to impact so many people. There are forty thousand customers, and six thousand promoters on my team. I would’ve never known all these people if it wasn’t for me telling a few people, who tell a few people, and now I’ve had some of my best friends from this company that I would have never met if it wasn’t for them. So I’m always like, “Yeah, go for it” – find the right company and stick to it.

Jamie: What level of compensation you might expect to get in network marketing from the outset and then going forward? Is there any fixed component to it or is it all variable compensation?

Kristen: Each company does it differently. Some call it the uni-level where you sign up as many people under you and help them sign up people under them. That’s how we work, we’re a uni-level, where I just bring on a bunch of my personal promoters. In their first two weeks, they can earn over $1,200 with a fast track bonus. A lot of companies have fast track bonuses, and then our company also allows you to earn free products. With just two referrals, you get your products for free. You don’t have to pay for yours each month, and then they have an iPad bonus of $399 in the first thirty days, and then only the second rank in the company is our auto-bonus. They believe in rewarding the people from the bottom for starting the fastest. Let’s get earning some extra cash flow right away, seeing success, and wanting to keep going, by helping them earn it for free right away.

They do $300 per month for whatever car you drive or $800 per month for Lexus, Cadillac, BMW, Mercedes, Tesla, and Audi. $800 for my Escalade is pretty nice. I can’t complain. Some companies will do trips as well. Ours offers three trips a year. Three vacations a year for you as a guest and I’ve been all over the world: Mexico, Canada, Dominican Republic, throughout the United States, hopefully, and Europe soon; it’s in the works.

The structure is that you get paid on a few levels at first. But as you move up in the ranks you get paid on more levels down. Ultimately, when you hit the pinnacle, the top rank in the company, that’s when everything doubles, percentage-wise.

Personally, being top rank in the company, some months, I have made more in a month in this company than what I made as a teacher in a year. Last year in 2018, after taxes, it was eleven times more than what I made in a year as a teacher. When people ask, “Can you make money in network marketing?” I’m like, “Heck, yes you can,” and it’s kind of fun. I tried not to be all about the business but for me it’s meant freedom, because for me living credit card to credit card, hands on the wheel calling my mom crying like, “Mom, does it get better financially? Am I ever going to have fun money? Can I ever travel? Because I feel like I’m just paying off credit cards right now, I’m barely making it for groceries.”

She’s like, “It’s going to get better.” So that’s what I’ve found with Le-Vel and Thrive. I was consistent with it; I gave it my all and here we are. It’s not just me. I have five people under me at the top rank in the company and some of them even make more money than me even though they’re below me. That’s what I love about this too. It doesn’t matter when you come in, it’s what you do with it. So many people have gone from barely making it or struggling moms or single moms, single mom who earns herself a $180,000 bonus which completely changes her life.

Going back to the factory mindset that we have in this society having traded time for money- we’re like, “No, you can have time and money.” I work from my phone from anywhere. I could be in Italy right now on a winery still working. That actually sounds like a really good trip, I need to plan that.

Jamie: Tell me about the sales training in network marketing – is there such a thing?

Kristen: That’s probably going to look a little different at our company too. But in general, for us at least, we have a kind of “step one do this, step two do this” and it’s a lot of information;  helping people that are potential “Thrivers” get more information – learning how to walk people through that sales funnel to help them ultimately get to a decision. For us, we don’t go to meetings and get trained. A lot of it is done over the Internet, and our entire company is cloud-based. We don’t have a headquarters, and everything is done via Skype, in the Cloud. Personally, I run a Zoom training every Monday for my team and we talk about approaching, introductions, and selling books. I went through the cycle of sales with them.

Most of my people are at-home moms who don’t even know what any of that means and it’s so cool to teach them closing and objection handling. I do that, and then we’ve got a network of leaders. The top-leader in the company, she’s an eight-figure earner. She does a lot of training, mainly just on Facebook. That’s what’s cool too, it’s pretty informal. I can be in yoga pants and just learn from my computer or anybody who has a smartphone – they can be trained, and they can learn and be successful in network marketing.

There are short videos, there’s a conference once a year which is coming up at the end of April and we have some of our top people in the company just training us on how to go through like a sales-type things or just what it takes to make it to the top and there’s a huge support system mainly done on social media. I feel like you have to be a self-learner. You’ve got to get plugged-in; you’ve got to get used to the job on the calls or on Zooms, and take an initiative to want to learn and do it. A lot of the times when my people are just getting started, we do three-way calls because I want that newest promoter to learn from me in a natural way. I’m like, “Hey, just connect me to the person you want to know more, merge us together, mute out and I’ll take over and start talking with them and you can learn along the way.”

It’s not like you have to sit down and study and learn all these things right away to be successful. You just do it on the go, but you have to get plugged-in and take initiative, like most careers and jobs. If I want to be a better teacher, I have to do some teaching outside of my classroom; follow some other teachers, or learn more about the education trends.

Jamie: Does network marketing need to be a full-time career, and how much better is it if it’s a full-time career?

Kristen: I think it can be a full-time or a part-time career but it can’t be some time. What I mean is you can do it full-time, you can do it part-time. But I think you can’t just decide how many tell some people about it today. Wishy-washy isn’t going to help you make the sale, right? It has to be consistent. But I worked up to the third rank in the company while I was working full-time and coaching and with all the other things going on.

One of my good friends, Amanda, she had the top rank in the company while she was an administrator working full-time in a school. It’s like you have a cup full of ice and some of that ice is what we have day to day in our lives, whether it’s our job and kid’s activities or church or whatever. Then you put in the water in the cup and it fills all the other empty spaces. That’s how you work network marketing into your life because you can do some here and there. But you have to be consistent with it. It can’t be a sometime thing. It’s either full-time or part-time, but not a sometime.

Jamie: How do you go about getting into the network marketing industry?

Kristen: Perhaps it’s everywhere now. Five hundred thousand people join network marketing a month. 

I think it’s our future. I mean it’s been around for a while but it’s shaping up and now there are better companies, better leaders and it’s desirable. People want to live their lives and also make money while living their life, especially millennials, but it could be anybody. An Instagram influencer is a form of network marketing. You’re probably seeing it all over the place anyway, and you just go find someone that is consistent with what they do and something that may be a product that you already love or you would stand by and then find someone that’s consistent with it.

Jamie: You mentioned five hundred thousand people joining network marketing a month. Is that from the USA specifically or globally?

Kristen: I think it’s globally. Le-vel set it out in one of their trainings. People are starting to change their mindset and being more open-minded to it and to saying yes. We just have to go find those people.

Jamie: What advice would you give to aspiring salespeople generally?

Kristen: It’s going to be an emotional roller coaster and you just have to make a commitment. You’re going to go through ups, and you’re going to go through downs. Over time, it’s going to keep moving up. So just commit and go all in.

Do what you need to do to be successful and go to the training, mentor, or interview top people who are where you want to be. Get plugged in with what they’ve got going on and find an accountability partner or a mentor who can help you during those downtimes.

I have some people that when I am going through something, I will call them por they call me and we help each other through and we encourage each other. Having a mentor or an accountability partner is, I think, one of the things that’s really helped me in the last four years. It might not just be one. I have multiple, and they’re my backbone sometimes.

Jamie: If you were starting your sales career again what would you do differently?

Kristen: In the beginning, I think when we get into these things, we have lots of fears. The fear of the unknown, the fear of failing, the fear of what other people think about you. I think that if I were to start over, I would try and just, as soon as possible, listen to some positive things first thing in the morning to just get some positive self-talk going. So that way, if I ever felt maybe one of those fears coming on, whether it would be sending a message to someone who I was afraid would say “no” to me or might say something negative. I think I would try and do some things first thing in the morning to overcome those fears as soon as possible. We need those positive things but it didn’t really click until later on that I needed to get up a little bit earlier and maybe watch a motivational video or get some good reading in or just have some self-time to reflect and focus on my goals with what I want to accomplish for that day, and just really put my mindset right before I actually get into all those crazy action items.

I also think that I would plan my day better. I’m not going to lie, I’m not very good with time management. I had a business coach, from Southwestern Consulting actually, and that was one thing we work on so much. It was time management and time blocking. In the beginning, I wish I would’ve just figured out my time a little bit better and really planned out what I have to get done first. What were the things that I have to do on a daily basis and then how can I work the other stuff in there as well? Planning out date nights or family time or church, whatever is important to you, put that on your calendar, and try to block it out. I would’ve worked with my calendar a little bit better sooner. 

So that’s an emotional thing and a technical thing. I would also try to block out all the noise around me and put some blinders on them. Because it affected me when people would say things like, “Oh, you’re back in sales” or “You’re going into network marketing, those things never work out,” or “Are you selling vitamins? I’m sure it’s just a placebo.” It’s just the noise around, even from your family. Sometimes my closest family, they’re like, “Oh, you’re going to go and be a millionaire?” and I’m like, “You know what? Yeah, I am.” Or someone in the family is telling me, “You’re leaving a good career in education and you’re going to do something else, and you don’t know whether it’s going to work out or not?” and I’m like, “Yeah. I’m going to take that risk.” Try to block out the noise early on, and not listen to the naysayers, and block some of the negativity that we all have around us.

James: Could you think of a specific time or tell a specific story of when you failed to make a sale but you really learned something from the experience?

Kristen: What we do now, it’s kind of like a first come first serve basis where, when you get someone’s email and you locked that into your database, a general rule that that person is yours to sell to, because there are multiple people that do what I do. With us, I remember talking to a lady at the grocery store. We are checking out at Walmart and she’s next to me in the line and I start talking to her about Thrive and I got her cellphone number so I can follow-up with her and then I actually forgot about her. It wasn’t somebody that I talked to on a regular basis or my friend. I kind of forgot about her and then she really popped back up in my mind. I’m like, “Oh my gosh. I need to reach back out to this girl.” When I did, she told me that she had already signed up with somebody else and she has received her product and she was excited to hit the first rank in the company. I was just kicking myself because I’m like, “Man, that could’ve been somebody that I could’ve worked with.” I could have developed a relationship with her, and helped her in different aspects. But I failed to follow-up in a timely manner and she got away. But that’s okay. I was happy that she was enjoying her Thrive.     

I even have family members that it happened with too. When you start, you’re second-guessing yourself and questioning and you’re like, “Oh my gosh. What am I doing wrong?” But then you realized, well it’s shame on me. I should’ve followed-up with these people better and developed a system to assist, pretty much of like following up with them in quick enough time and get them locked into your network. That was kind of an eye-opener. I learned that follow-up in a timely manner is very important because people want it like now. They don’t want to wait. 

James: Could you tell me about a time when you made a sale and that was a result of the skills, characteristics, and learnings that you got from your career?

Kristen: Okay, so I’m going to talk about my bank teller. I was at the bank and setting up a business account and she can see all the information. I was going to go buy my new Escalade, and she was like, “So what do you do?” I’m like, “You’ll never guess, I do network marketing,” and she was like, “Really? Like it actually worked that you’re so successful at it? I’ve never met anybody who is successful in network marketing.” And I’m like, “Yeah, well, I found the product that I really love and it’s helped me.”

I saw her drinking a coffee – drinking coffee in the afternoon! I was like, “Boom.” I’ve learned to capitalize on the moment. I’m like, I knew there was a need right there because I could tell that she was tired in the afternoon. So I just asked her if she had ever heard about Thrive and she hadn’t.I explained to her how it helped. I knew what her need was, so I filled that – it helps with energy, it helps with focus. I knew she was around people all day and crunching numbers. I told her a story of how it’s helped my husband in his career with numbers and people. I’m like, “I’m off coffee for almost four years and I feel the best I have in my life.” She was like, “Really? Okay, I need what you have.” I’m like, “Well, what’s your email? Let’s get you an account set-up right now.”

Then on the spot, I sat there and I signed her up and placed her order with her sitting at the bank. I was very proud at that moment because it was a cold conversation. You don’t really have a relationship with them so you have to build that trust right away. I knew the need and I feel that right away.

I just capitalized on that moment and the excitement. She was right at the buying point. Why would I let that go? I’m not going to wait to go back and follow-up with her later. I’m going to capitalize on that point.

I signed her up and yeah, she’s still Thriving and I still see her at the bank every once in a while. She has told two other people in the bank, and now they are her customers. You have to seize the moment. When the opportunity is there, you take advantage of it.  

[end] 

You can connect with Kristen on FACEBOOK or send her an EMAIL.

Visit her WEBSITE to find out about her exploits.

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