Buy products, sell products, sponsor others. That is the Amway business in a nutshell. If you have bought and sold Amway products, you already possess the main skills needed to run an Amway business. If you have also sponsored downline, you probably have all the skills needed to build an Amway business. So the question is how much training and tools are needed? Is the investment in tools worth the price for what you get in return? In my informed opinion, I would have to resoundingly say "no".
For many IBOs, the tools are the reason why they are unable to profit. Voicemail for example, is an outdated tool that costs more than most IBO's bonuses. With the ability for IBOs to use email, twitter, or facebook, voicemail is an outdated and frankly, less efficient manner for an upline to communicate with their groups. Standing orders, while some training and advice may be helpful to IBOs, a weekly subcription quickly becomes an expense that an IBO can do without. My upline swore that tapes/cds were vital in sponsoring other, but I had never sponsored, or knew of other crossline who used a tape/cd to sponsor someone. As I said, if you already sold a product and sponsored downline, you probably already possess the skills needed to build an Amway business.
Functions, especially the ones that require airline travel are the most costly and gives the least return on investment. You leave your home and business to attend a function somewhere. You incur a lot of cost and while you are gone, your business is closed. For most IBOs, they will never recoup the expense of one of these functions, let alone having multiple functions througout the year. Also, the functions appear to be more of a social event than an actual business seminar. Sure, the bright lights and touching speeches may inspire you, but how does that translate into business growth? I never observed appreciable growth in my group or crossline as a result of a big function. Sure, there may be exceptions, but overall, the functions were just a drain on IBO resources.
It is my observation that when uplines talk about tools being "needed", they are saying it because upline needs you to buy tools. For many uplines, the tools business is their primary business with Amway being secondary. Some uplines earn far more from the tools sales than from Amway. For that reason, the tools sales are "needed". If you are new or seeking information, try asking upline or your sponsor, what tangible benefit can be received by attending a big function. My sponsor told me that he could not describe the event, that I simply "needed" to attend it in person and see for myself. After my first major function, I did not see what the big deal was. I had to use time off from work, incur some fairly large expenses for travel and it did not result in business growth.
So are tools needed? It is my opinion that some tools may be helpful to an IBO, but if the tools do not directly teach you to sell Amway products or result in you being able to sponsor downline, the tools purchases can be questionable as it won't help your bottom line. However, your continued tool purchases greatly benefits your upline diamond's bottom line. Beware.