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Has This Ever Happened To You?

Earlier this year, I did something against my better judgment that I’ve promised myself I’ll never do again.

As you probably know, in January I held my famous “Sales Breakthrough” live intensive seminar in Los Angeles attended by a sold out crowd.

Whenever I announce a high-impact training like this, we typically get calls into our office from sales executives from large companies asking if they can send one of their people to “check us out” to see if it’s a program they want to bring in-house.

And when they mean “check us out”, they mean coming for free, no charge, zero investment.

Their thinking goes like this: “Hey, we’re a big company and if you let us attend for free, we shouldn’t have to pay anything – of course we can afford it – but a promise to consider hiring you, is enough clout to let us in at no charge.”

Earlier in my career, when I was constantly in search of my next “big” client, it was easy to be seduced by the proposition of landing a big company with a well-known brand.

The power of their big brand next to mine, the lucrative agreement, seeing incredible results…it’s what dreams are made of!

Interestingly, all of our events have been a huge success, but the corporate representatives who attended for “free”, in most cases, would never call us back.

Either I or my team would be forced into a position to have to chase them for feedback.

My stomach churns thinking of those days.

You know how it feels when you experience a “bait and switch” tactic from someone trying to sell you something?

That’s exactly how it felt when they wouldn’t return my calls.

After a series of these experiences, I told myself “Never again Ari. If anyone, no matter how big of a company they represent, wants to attend our Sales Breakthrough events, they will have to invest like everyone else”.

All of the entrepreneurs, business owners and sales people who attend every year happily invest out of their own pocket to come, so why shouldn’t the large companies purchase a ticket as well (they certainly can afford it!).

(This is one of reasons why I’m re-focusing more of my attention back to small business owners and sales people…it’s their own money that’s at stake, not someone else’s – results and breakthroughs come from those who have “skin in the game”.)

Anyways, this past January, a few weeks before I was to fly from Sydney to Los Angeles for our Sales Breakthrough event, a sales executive from a large company (over $500m in revenues), called in and, yes you guessed it, asked if he can send some people for free to “check us out”.

My team member who took the call, asked me if we could do that since they were a “big” company and they seem really “eager” and “ready” to consider engaging our company to train their national sales team.

In a moment of weakness, (please slap me if I ever do this again), I said “yes” to this request.

Then the next day, the head of sales for the company calls in letting us know how much he loves what we are teaching and asked if we can send him some of our products to “sample”, since he can’t attend the event.

He also said he is “looking forward to doing business with us.”

I told my staff member to let him know we rarely allow this because in the past we’ve had companies take advantage of our generosity.

He strongly insisted he had every intention of creating a partnership together.

Still in a moment of fleeting weakness, I approved sending him some of our programs (you can slap me twice for that one).

Anyways, I really didn’t think much of it since I was focusing on just creating an amazing event.

After a great experience for both me and the attendees in Los Angeles, I headed back home to Sydney.

A few days later I asked my staff if we heard from that company.

Not a word.

By the way, the representative from the company approached me during one of the breaks in the seminar and lavish praised on me and our Unlock The Game trust-based selling approach.

He seemed truthful and authentic.

I asked my staff member who took their requests to attend for free and have our products shipped to them for “review”, to call them back for feedback.

Guess what, no word from them for the last five months…and I expect no word from them EVER.

Why couldn’t they have been honest and sincere with me and my team from the beginning?

Why did they have to “throw their weight around” so they could get what they want?

Why did they make promises they never intended to keep (a promise to talk afterwards, not to necessarily commit to anything)?

Those are the soul searching questions those select corporate types will never have to answer, because not many have the guts to call them on their tactics.

I’m certainly not going to spend an ounce more of my energy trying play the role of “David vs. Goliath”, but I can tell you this much, if you work for a big company and expect a “free ride”, when others are paying their way, you might as well look elsewhere…there are no more free rides here.

Lessons to keep close by: Hold your ground, stay centered, let those who want to take advantage of you pass by, making room for those who are truthful about their intentions.

Your feedback is welcomed below…has an experience like this ever happened to you before?

To your success,

Ari Galper

Ari Galper

Ari Galper is the world’s number one authority on trust-based selling and is the most sought-after sales conversion expert for Business Owners. His newest book, “Unlock The Sales Game”, has become an instant best-seller worldwide. Ari has been featured in CEO Magazine, Forbes, INC Magazine and the Australian Financial Review. He is considered a contrarian in the sales industry and in his book, everything you learned about selling will be turned upside down. No more chasing, no pressure, no closing.

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43 Comments

  1. Malik Shaik Mydin

    Hi Ari,
    I’ve been listening and reading to the reviews in your column . Seems like we are all having similar problems no matter where we are within this wonderful sales world. People just want everything for “FREE” but the moment they feel they have to get some money out from their wallet………its simply……………… GOODBYE……….. I intend to get your CDs’ and hope it works as mentioned. Really need some help……..
    Thks Ari.

    Malaysia

  2. Richard

    Hi Ari,
    I have also learned that the hard…and expensive way. Now I know that people only value what they buy, not what they received for free.

    West Barnstable,MA.

  3. Patrick Currie

    I have been asked many times for a free or drastically reduced cost. My answer has always been; “Sure,and let me get some of your product/service for free too while we’re at it!” I don’t sugar coat it or say it diplomatically. And you know what? They invariably look shocked for about 10 seconds until what they’ve just asked for hits them. It gives me a real laugh when the smile comes to their face as they realize the stupidity of their request.

    Sydney

  4. Olga Brouckova

    You are an amazing storyteller, Ari, and thank you for teaching the way of selling that makes sense.

    It seems that the overabundance of freebies has an unpleasant side effect–we expect great value to be served to us for free, although we have no problem paying up for something that has little or just momentary value in the great scheme of things.

    Large firms are notorious for an “Employee Mentality. Their executives are prone to hiding behind their corporate hierarchy, justifying giving nothing in exchange for great value (except for lesser value, which they seem to be OK to pay for), and NOT feeling your pain. They are unable or unwilling to grasp the world beyond their small (but hugely inflated) piece of the pie.

    The large firm executives that you’ve described badly need the maturing and humbling experience of a small business owner or an entrepreneur! It would help them switch to an “Owner Mentality,” which fosters accountability and respect, in no time.

    Toronto, Canada

  5. Tanya Harris

    Ari, yes, yes, yes, I fell into this trap when I very first setup my training business, however a meeting I had with IBM told me to ‘never offer services for free’ so that was nice to hear, after someone in their organisation had asked for free service. Here is a question, do you think its the individual and their inflated ego pumped up by the company they work for, or is it the company? One thing is for sure, your chance of closing business by providing free service dramatically decreases as human nature does not see the value in something that you have not had to work or pay for.

    Sydney, Australia

  6. Jason L London

    Hi Ari we did a chat the other night and I said I would buy your programme.

    I got the starter pack and really like the ideas. I have read a few books on being a trusted advisor but they are not as practical as yours. I just need to fit it into my work sales culture as the employer scripts all telesales staff on the “salesy” opening regardless of skill and experience.

    Sales people always want margin and commission, and we know you are the same. It’s just you give a little more. Anyway, I try to use the 80/20 rule and just focus on progressing people with money and don’t stall or try to re-negotiate all the time which eats up my time. Best to let another company take these low profit customers on who negotiate over pennies for days on end.

    UK

  7. Secret, World

    I am sorry. I am one of the people that did this to you Ari. Believe it or not I am a major fan of yours. Our company knew exactly what it was doing. I feel in the article you were talking specifically about me.

    Know this: your stuff is awe-some, paradoxically I would “Do it again” to you just because your stuff is the best! Thank you. You’ve changed my life.

  8. Michael Petit

    Some years ago I came across a wonderful wonderful set of characteristics that differentiated mature organisations from growing organisations. I believe they have direct relevance to your experience and hope you find them entertaining:

    In growing organisations (IGO) – the organisation exists to create value. In mature organisations (IMO) – political games govern decision making. IGO – management drives the momentum of the organisation. IMO – management rides the inertia. IGO – people are kept for their contribution to the organisation despite their personalities. IMO – people are kept for their personalities despite their lack of contribution. IGO – personal success comes from taking risks. IMO – personal success comes from avoiding risk. IGO – function is emphasised over form. IMO – form is emphasised over function. IGO – problems are seen as opportunities. IMO – opportunities are seen as problems. IGO – everything is permitted unless forbidden. IMO – everything is forbidden.

    To your continued and growing success. Best. Michael

    Ph.D, Melbourne, Australia

  9. Rex Fraser

    Ari, you are a good man to the core. I appreciate your willingness to be candid and the humility you have to let everyone of your subscribers know that you are not perfect and can make mistakes like the rest of us. I just shows you are a genuine person. That is what I like about you. (I always got the impression you were, this just confirmed it.)

    Utah

  10. Robbie

    Hi Ari,

    I just checked in to read your blog and saw your new post. As always, wise words, and a great reminder to us all. As you know I travelled from the UK for the event which was superb and worth every one of the 12000 miles round trip. I’ve been working my way through the programme and I’m looking forward to our call at the end of April.
    Warmest Regards, Robbie

    London UK

  11. Ann

    Ah Ari, I have even had a senior manager (and someone I know outside of work) suggest that I go in and give ‘free’ coaching for six months in their (very well-known) company, to demonstrate what I could do for them. As if they would have worked for free themselves!!

    Hants, UK

  12. CK Wilde

    Absolutely right, Ari! When I was head of Marketing for a small software developer, we often got this request. So we created a free trial application for users to sample our software.

    We always suggested that companies try the free trial first. Most were happy with that. The few that did call back had to provide us with information about the use they intended, who the decision makers were, etc.

    The few companies that did ask for the full software to try after testing the free application converted to sales about 30% of the time.

    Most every company can create some kind of a “free trial” (white papers, videos, ebooks) to handle this kind of request.

    Mountain View, CA

  13. Deborah Rose

    Calgary, AB Canada
    Hi Ari,

    All of us are commodities that selfish people try to use. And they will take everything you give them. All of us have to say, “Thanks but No Thanks” without fear of rejection, loss of income, face, security. When we truly change how we feel about ourselves, the world changes to reflect that image. I personally want to congratulate you for taking the high road with yourself. I bet you dimes to donuts you never get another call like that!

  14. Adrian

    Thanks Ari! Really appreciate u saying that! Those who don’t pay for their own learning will never progress much in their life- much less their sales career.

    I’ve had clients wanting ‘free consultation’ for their ‘learning festival’. They take advantage of service providers who want exposure to a big name!

    I am never gonna fall into that trap again!

    Right on Ari!

    Singapore

  15. Terry S. Smith

    People in low states, GREED should be avoided.

    I have wined and dined “Million Dollar” buyer’s in Scottsdale Arizona and spent hundreds of dollars only to have them disappear, and never buy a million dollar (+) home, or return any of my phone calls.

    U.S.A.

  16. Dave Pipitone

    “Lessons to keep close by: Hold your ground, stay centered, let those who want to take advantage of you pass by, making room for those who are truthful about their intentions.”

    Thanks for sharing these valuable lessons, Ari! I know how easy it is for me to want to help others; doing that for free isn’t always the best way to help them.

    Streamwood, IL

  17. Jennifer

    This is the very reason I almost completely “lost” my business. I own a small custom cake and confection business. Well, it seems everyone and thier dog wants “samples,”but so many never have any intention of buying. Im not saying this is always the case, but it tends to actually be other vendors wanting you to “donate” huge amounts of “samples” for an even. They rant and rqve about how it’s the best they’ve evdr had and then “poof,”you NEVER hear from them about a referral…NOTHING!

    I was actually a part of this event studio for a year and would constantly bring samples of cakes an chocolate for the brides that woukd come through. It was my time, energy and drive time for literally nothing?! I found out through the grapevine that all the people working there woud snack on my samples all week (meaning very few potential clients ever tasted my confections), and then above all else, the owner said she wanted to “give me some business back” for doing biz with her during that year and wanted to kniw how much I would charge for some cupcakes, cake pops, cookies, etc. I quoted her around 35% off what I normally would have charged and she comes back telling me she decided to just go to the grocery store since it was “cheaper!”

    I’m thinking to myself, “You don’t want to pay me 50 bucks after I’ve paid you several thousands of dollars???” Needless to say when my agreement was up I was outta there! Seriously, some people are just clueless!!!

    Denver

  18. Derek Wisniewski

    Ari,
    As always being humble and honest. You can’t win them all! I always try to encourage some sort of commitment or work on their part to gauge how critical it is to implement our solution once I’ve figured out they are a true ‘fit’. In your case, here’s something I might suggest. For every attendee from that company that wanted to attend, charge them the price of admission. Should they attend..refund their admission. Should they want to ‘sample’ your material, send them only some of it..enough to get a sense of it and charge them a nominal fee. So at least they feel a sense of commitment. Should they sign on board-apply the nominal cost as a credit towards their program. Would love to see a group program for those that are advanced in UTG and want to practise with their other elite members their mindset everyday! We need you back Ari!

    Toronto, ON

  19. Ed Turner

    Yep Ari happened all to often…I think a wise guy once said to me…always negoiate from a position of low need….make the buggers pay, always!

    Mudgee NSW, Australia

  20. Matt

    This story reminds me a lot of situations I encounter every day. Owners of multi-location businesses think they should get some super discount on my service. When I’ve catered to their request and give them a proposal with a great discount, I rarely hear back from them or sign their business. I’ve recently been giving them the same prices that I give everyone else and “standing my ground.” I win some. I lose some.

    Little Rock,AR

  21. Paul Pate

    Like Dan Kennedy has said, and others, “their must be ‘skin in the game’.” I continue to believe your product is the future in selling, even the future for mankind. We must have integrity in our contacts, contracts, and relationships…must have. Clearly their was a dearth of integrity in the words and actions of this corporate type. You call people to this path of truth telling…the only path to freedom.

    San Diego

  22. Betsy

    It has happened to me and I’m reminded of a quote form my late Father., actually a few quotes…one being ‘no one can take advantage of you without your permission’. We all have a subconscious hope that this time it will be different, when in our hearts, we know that probably will not be the case. This incident will just make you stronger. It has made me stronger, more direct and able to stand my ground as a single woman business owner. Heads up, keep going. Karma will take care of the cheater!

    USA

  23. Ricky

    Sorry that this happened to you Ari.

    I’ve had things like that happen to me all the time which has taught me to never give anything in business away for free. Charging money separates the serious from the time wasters.

    Richmond, VA

  24. Stewart Alexander

    I know exactly what you mean Ari…

    I had a well known SMS marketing company here in the UK show (what looked like) genuine interest at the time formy Mobile Websites services.

    Work with our web guys and show them how you build your mobile sites. We have hundreds of SMS clients, we can work together where you provide mobile sites for them. Here’s out best web guy. if he like what you do, there’s an opportunity for us to work together.

    Weeks later, nothing, no feedback, no returning my calls and to top it all off, they created their own mobile site builder which creates sites based on the code I showed them.

    So yeah, lessons learned and never to be repeated.

    Thx for sharing your story Ari.

    Warmest regards,

    Stewart

    Huddersfield. UK

  25. Kennard Brown

    Hello Ari:

    This has happened to me several times in my 21 years of business ownership experience. I also have learned the “hard way” that people will try to get “something for nothing.” I agree we all have to be very careful to analyze every potential client. If they are not willing to pay for valuable information, a service or product, then it is not worth pursuing them.

    Reynoldsburg, Ohio

  26. Donna Woolam

    A terrific article. So many times I’ve make this mistake ‘for the sake of the sale’ and of course never received a return. Then, the voice of wisdom from long ago says, ‘if it costs you nothing – it means nothing.’

    Midland TX

  27. Nick Smith

    Truth be known some of those large corporations probably renamed your ideas a bit and are using them right now as their own. We small business owners are glad to have you and know the original is much better than any rehashed copy could ever be.

    Oklahoma City, OK

  28. Graham

    Many large companies that I have dealt with are slow payers for services rendered. I have also been involved in partnership negotiations with some large companies that have tried to bully me into accepting draconian contractural arrangements. Many large companiess I have dealt with are arrogant in their dealings with small business owners because their CEO’s are allowed to get away with such tactics.

  29. Erik

    It’s always the way isn’t it Ari when we allow ourselves to think that we are are the little guy and need someone more than they need us; and consequently allow ourselves to do something that we would never ask anyone to do as the price of doing business with us?

    Though it is little consolation, you ain’t alone mon ami! I dare say there probably isn’t a one of us among your devoted followers who hasn’t done it – at least once. But, sometimes the only way to learn is by experiencing the way it shouldn’t be done and out of said experience “reverse engineer” yourself into understanding the right way – so, nothing is lost actually.

    The moral of the story is – and the way to look at it I feel from a “we must take responsibility for what we do” attitude is this, and please forgive me if I put this a little less than delicately, but as Gen. Patton used to say, “When I want them (his soldiers) to remember something I give it to ’em dirty.”

    IF we WILL ALLOW ourselves to be someone else’s bitch, we should not be surprised to wake up in the morning and find we have been screwed, should we?

    Keep up your great work, because we inquiring minds want to know!
    Take care,
    Erik

    New York

  30. Mendy Kolodny

    I had some clients that ask you to come down and show them illustrations and then never end up buying.

    Brooklyn,n.y.

  31. Len Baxter

    Thanks for the article. Having run into this a few times (and accepting that some potential clients need lots of follow-up contacts), here is an opportunity to get some of their ‘skin-in-the-game’.

    Offer them the same deal everyone else gets but to sweeten the pot, if a strategic relationship does develop within 90 days of the training, you will deduct their tuition from the future agreement at the rate of 10% over the next year until they have recouped their investment.

    If they really believed that there was a benefit when returning from the training, and spent $1.000 on training, their orders (up to $10,000 over the next year) would only cost them $9,000. By then, they would also have concrete numbers about the REAL WORTH of the training and become die-hard clients.

    Good job and keep being the champion, Len

    Ridgeville, Ontario, Canada

  32. Jack Briner

    Building trust has always been our company’s focus. Your methods are the foundation of our successful sales efforts. Great to hear you’ll be re-focusing on small business owners and sales people!

    Lancaster, PA

  33. Ubtavious Washington

    Thanks for the heads up Ari. I hope to some day fill up audiences like you and now I know how to react to the situation.

    Waldorf, MD

  34. Brett C

    I have had a few experiences like this, where people have promised something in exchange for work completed. For me it a big lesson learned. I think your approach of openess and honest is ultimately the best approach. This person/company have just lost the benefit of your advice.

    UK

  35. Bob Whyte

    Ari: I had registered for the January event but had an unexpected family situation that intervened and had to cancel. I’m still looking forward to attending a Sales Breakthrough event when you get to the US next, but yes, I have had a similar experience earlier in my career when I was selling Sales Training. I’m convinced they never had any intention of becoming a client. I think they used my material to develop their own program. Nothing for FREE! I would gladly pay out-of-pocket again for an Ari event.

    United States

  36. Kim Martin

    Absolutely 100% agree with you. That flavour in the fitness industry are the the ones that what to”check out” your fitness centre” “because they’re thinking of joining” my retort?
    Hey no problems at all,your welcome,its $15 for a casual visit,join and it gets refunded to you.
    Game set and match! LOL..

    NSW

  37. Gavin Presman

    Ari,

    I have had a few similar experience, where I momentarily forgot that some large corporates have lost, or never had, authentic values to follow.

    I am proud to serve a few in the UK though who do have values they stand by, and principles of authenticity they also live by. Its hard for me to stop doing business with those who dont, but we have stopped targeting them and we now focus on finding partners who match our values.

    Thanks for your stories, look forward to meeting up one day.

    My view is you should personally write to the Sales Director who let you down and may stole your IP and content, and if you fail to get a response, name and shame them here.

    I am not sure they deserve corporate anonymity.

    London, UK

  38. Mark

    Hey Ari,
    Mark here from SEO Advantage mate…

    Many of us appreciate what you just took the time to write as it has happened to us too. A similar thing happened to me on Tuesday this week where a client of mine was upset with me because I stopped all SEO work last month due to him not paying his fees. I emailed 3 times and called twice and had no reply. Finally I sent him a letter letting him know all work ceased last month due to a lack of payment. Low and behold I get a call. He complained and give me a complete ear full…Helloooo.

    Ari, the two times I invested in you is what I consider to be two of my best investments ever and what I learned from you is still producing “real measurable results” today.

    You probably don’t realise this but the highlight in working with you is not just that you gave me more than I expected or paid for, it was that I could see you actually cared about my success and that’s bloody rare mate.

    Thanks for being the man that you are and making this world a much better place for those of us who truly appreciate you for what you do.

    Always indebted to you mate,

    Mark B
    Down at Sunny Cronulla Beach 🙂

    Sydney Australia

  39. Edgar Kully

    We always find something that forces the prospective client to have some “skin in the game” when requests like this are made. This includes something such as investing in transportation costs, or a small, dicounted invioce that will also be credited wiht future work. Key is, we state it is a policy of ours that is set to be win-win. Only the slimeballs refuse.

    Kirkland, WA

  40. Grant Richardson

    Never a truer word Ari

    Its all about trust and value as well as integrity and clearly these people have very little of these attributes

    Eventually they will lose out

    If you don’t value yourself and the services you offer you are batting from behind .

    Thank you for your insights and knowledge over the years . I am grateful for the insight you provide

    Sydney Australia

  41. Daniel Yodaiken

    I have had similar issues now what I do in that situation is say they have to pay but if they take us on I will refund the fee.

    York – UK

  42. Ryan Dickinson

    I could do with some help in that area, it seems to happen on a regular basis. speak to someone who gives the impression they are big then deliver nothing.

    Do i need to be ruthless & cut the dead weight?

    Glasgow

  43. Jason Mueller

    Right on Ari! So glad you are back focussing on business owners and sales people….we missed ya!

    Dallas, TX

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