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,