Was I ripping him off?

He told me I was a thief—after a coaching call no less. Tom said that based on his first coaching call, he had figured out how I was trying to rip him off. To him, I was a fraud.

I took it personally. It bothered me for weeks, and it cost me a lot of money before I figured out what was happening.

Most of my coaching calls are with advanced info-marketers, working with them to establish business systems or reviewing financial statements for opportunities to increase the amount of profit they get to keep from the revenue they generate. But I also have a fair number of calls with beginning info-marketers. I feel like it’s my duty to give back. Even though there are books and products on info-marketing that didn’t exist when I was trying to figure out this business, I see it as a duty to accept new info-marketers who reach out to me to help them get started.

Tom had read the second edition of the Official Get Rich Guide to Information Marketing and loved it. So he set up a coaching call with me for help turning his expertise into an info-business. Tom was a single dad and a private investigator in Michigan. In addition to his work as an officer, he had set up a private investigation firm with a unique marketing system to generate customers. He told me his revenue numbers, and I asked him, “Are those numbers something other private investigation firm owners would be impressed with? Would someone in neighboring states look at your results and say to himself ‘Wow, I want to figure out what he’s doing’”?

At that, my coaching client told me, “No.” Since Tom’s revenue still had some room for improvement, we outlined a plan of action that included several additional marketing techniques to boost his revenue and profit in his private investigation firm. We wanted to create a business others would envy. We combined the marketing plan with a timetable of action steps, plus we outlined how Tom would launch an info-business when it came time to do that. I thought it was important for him to see there was light at the end of the tunnel. I wanted him to know that while he’d be working hard to keep up with the new clients his marketing would be generating, there would come a time when he could be generating some “work once, get paid many times” money from an info-marketing business.

During our call, Tom seemed pretty impressed. But then he called back and spoke my associate, Suzanne. He gave her an earful about how awful I was and how he had discovered I was a fraud.

I got all this information secondhand, but from what I understand, Tom was disappointed that I had suggested he invest time in his current private investigation firm. Since I was an info-marketing coach, Tom thought I should have discussed only info-marketing. By giving him strategies for his private investigation firm, Tom said I had used bait and switch. I had gotten him excited about info-marketing but then worked with him on his current business.

This really impacted me. Even though I had delivered everything I had promised, I gave Tom a refund of his coaching fee as well as everything else he’d ever paid me. I also put him on my “Do Not Contact” list so he can’t buy anything else. But still, I took this personally and thought about this call for several days afterward.

I believe in demonstrating results above all else. It’s fine for you or me to have a theory about a marketing system that could work for a type of business to generate a great income. It’s another thing entirely to build it, test it and prove that it works. It’s my opinion that we should sell only what’s been proven to work. That’s my differentiator in what I write and teach, and it’s what I encourage my coaching clients to do. This guy had a marketing system, but he hadn’t proven that it generated a remarkable amount of money. I wasn’t going to suggest to Tom that he invest the time and money to present his idea to the market until he had proven it would work.

The next day I had a speaking engagement out of town. During the trip I reviewed my coaching call with Tom several times and argued back and forth with myself about how I had handled it. Could I have done something different to reach this person? While I don’t like being called a fraud, it upset me more that, as a coach, I hadn’t identified Tom’s objection during the call and addressed it with him.

Regarding my speaking engagement, I had disappointing results. My sales were lower than they should have been, so this only compounded my overall frustration.

Then it occurred to me. I was letting this guy drag me down to his level. The whole day I had focused on one failure. Maybe it was my fault or maybe this was just a negative person who wasn’t ready for coaching. Either way, by dwelling on it, I gave it power to do damage inside of me. Like a virus, it silently infected my thinking and my presentation.

In our coaching programs and in our lives, we’ll often encounter negative people. The more work you do, the more people will criticize you. Some of them will be strangers, others will be people you thought were friends and some will be former clients.

If you focus on the criticism, it will make you weak and tentative. Instead, focus on the positive results you generate.

That’s what I started doing. Before I left for my trip home, I opened my calendar and wrote down the names of my other coaching calls that week. During my flight, I thought about each of those calls, the results those clients have generated working with me and the opportunities those clients have had. I focused on dozens of great results and breakthroughs I’d helped to create rather than on the one critic. By the way, I used the name Tom throughout but that’s not his real name to protect his confidentiality.

Each day you are producing great results for people. You are helping them solve their problems and create breakthroughs in their lives. The moment you feel criticism impacting you, snap out of it. Invest some time thinking about the successes you are generating and the people you are helping. Focusing on your successes and your breakthroughs will keep you growing and achieving.

I appreciate you. I am so blessed to have such good friends, members and clients. It’s been a great year so far for all of my clients and I want to say, thank you for the opportunity to serve. I hope you have a great Thanksgiving holiday.

What do you think? Have you had people criticize you? What do you do to get past it? Do you disagree and have a better way? Scroll down to the bottom of the page to leave me a comment. I read every comment and reply when appropriate.


About Robert Skrob

The problem with subscription membership programs is that members quit, I fix that problem. For more than 20-years I have specialized in direct response marketing for member recruitment, retention and ascension in diverse subscription members environments including non-profit associations, for-profit publishers/coaching, subscriptions and SAAS companies. For an evaluation of your current churn rate and how I can improve it, contact me here. I discover there are often two or three quick wins you can implement within a week to lower churn immediately, let’s talk about your quick wins.
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16 Comments on “Was I ripping him off?”

  1. Robert,

    First, your assessment of the situation and your response is perfectly on point. You’re responsible TO your clients, not FOR them. So many times we’ve helped our consulting and project clients create amazing results, but there are those few the refuse to take action, thus they get poor results and look for someone to blame. Now if I start working with a client and it’s not a good fit we’ll certainly provide refunds and follow the same course of action that you took with “Tom”… For my 90 consulting program I added this clause to all of my agreements: TERMS: Non-Refundable Consulting Program: You assume 100% Responsibility for Your Actions, Success, and Decisions. Entering into this consulting program is entirely based on this covenant that you have acknowledged that you accept 100% responsibility for your actions (or lack of actions), your success, and your decisions.

  2. How “Tom” could fully intended to promote an unproven system but somehow you’re the fraud is hilarious.

    Sometimes being overly generous can come back in weird unforeseen ways. You’re right in saying we shouldn’t take such things to heart. Staying teachable and humble is important, but one bad interaction does not a shyster make.

  3. Robert,

    I love Zig Ziglar’s quote… “Failure is an event, not a person.” It puts things in perspective.

    We all have had clients with unreasonable expectations. You did the right things… Giving the refund (conmen don’t give refunds) and clearing him out of your life.

    As a detective, he probably spent all his life around people trying to deceive him. Maybe he was just not used to someone telling it straight. The only thing unfortunate is this guy is probably going to have to learn the hard way that the advice you gave him is correct. Wish him well and move on is about all you can do.

  4. Robert! You need a Jar of Awesome. I recently learned about this on a podcast. Basically you get any kind of container and write down every awesome thing that happens on a little slip of paper (business or otherwise). A jar was suggested because it’s transparent and the person had decorated it with glitter and other fun art supplies. So, when things like this happen–and they will–you look at your Jar of Awesome and see all the wonderful things you have going on. In your case, you could add to your jar every time someone thanks you for helping transform their business–and their life.

    I’m so glad you shared this because people like me think people like you don’t have these experiences. We think, “Oh, he’s very successful and has it all figured out.” The reality is that you’ve just had tons more of these experiences than people who don’t put themselves “out there” professionally. It’s always a risk and it’s scary. But think of all the people who would have missed out on the tremendous value you’ve provided if you let these experiences stop you or even slow you down.

    I plan to make my own Jar of Awesome soon, with my 7-year old nephews and maybe even my 75-year old mom. At any age, we all need to be reminded of all the awesome things in our lives. Because “Tom” is everywhere, and we’ll all eventually run into him–or worse!

    And thank you for all that you do! I always read your emails and they are always valuable!

  5. “One Tin Soldier rode away.” Perhaps having learned; but not your problem.

    You are right to disqualify the soldier from further participation until learning occurs and is demonstrated by ACTION.

    But, Robert, I quit IMA after 3 months, because YOU did not reply and/or your sites were one-way (not responsive).

    -David Holliday

    So, ACTION on your part, here!

    and, copy me, I want you to excel.

    1. David, I’m sorry to hear about this. When I saw your comment I asked Denise to scour our records. She looked through each email we received. We don’t see an outstanding messages. I invest a lot of time emailing members in response to their questions. I appreciate the opportunity to help. Thank you for alerting me to this. And, again, I apologize you didn’t get a response from me.

  6. Great approach to a difficult client. I do not think you could have anticipated the objection during the call. It appears the client thought about the dialogue and then responded emotionally.

    1. Kind of you to ask about coaching. Thank you.

      Most of my current coaching and consulting clients today are focused on membership programs. I help them build programs that engage, ascend and retain members. If you’d like more information or would like to connect, please send me an email rs (at) associationmarketing.com.

      Great hearing form you.

      Best wishes.

  7. The only thing I could see that you could have done to possibly prevent his response was to explain your rationale clearly, i.e. that he needed remarkable results in his business before he would have a credible platform for his info product.

    However, you may have done exactly that. Since I wasn’t on the call, I don’t know. And your reasoning was perfectly clear to me reading this post.

    Some folks are impossible to please. Or he had buyer’s remorse and jumped on any reason he could to wrangle a refund. Who knows. I’m glad you didn’t let him keep you down.

  8. Awesome Rob,
    I teach innerPeace / Awakening and the “soft stuff” of peace and happiness. The desire to assist another does not mean they can be helped, even when they say they want that. Your article helps me see that at another level, and I think you got to the right conclusion. If a person is not willing to action what you have proven works then it is 100% their own doing.
    I know that this rare thing called “Awakening” is actually quite simple, but certain actions and choices need to be acted upon (that is the hard part that one can only do for oneSelf). If these are not done then the person is guaranteed failure. This means they didn’t trust the advice and act on it til they saw concrete results for themselves – just like you offered.

  9. Dear Rob,

    If one negative person (or few numbers available in your clime) can do such blow to a great expert like you, come to think of terrific harm this must be causing a starter like me; steeped among people that hardly manifest positive attitudes! Anyway I am not complaining, I love my people all the same. My mind is simply made up like you rightly did too.

    My point is just that I feel with you because, I daily see this. ( fun Intended: I think I qualify to deliver lectures in your area on working with peace of Mind among Negative People.).

    Sir, just move on with your good work and it is well with your heart. God bless!!

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