Unethical Offline Prospecting?

by sunshne721 28 replies
Hello everyone,

I recently purchased an offline marketing course from a pretty well-known marketer. His training basically goes through how to provide web design and landing page services to local business owners. The course also shows you how to prospect for potential clients in a way that he claims will guarantee results! It involves typing a keyword in Google, making a list of only the business owners that have ads within the search results, going to their website and filling out their form pretending to be a potential customer who's interested in their services. If and when you get a reply back, you would then pitch them your services.

Now I don't know about you guys, but this doesn't seem like an ethical way to prospect. Pretending to be someone who's interested in buying their services is just wrong in my book. It almost seems like you're wasting their time which they could use to help REAL customers. I tried this method with only a few businesses and I only received one reply telling me to never contact them again. I won't be using this anymore, I feel like a slimey salesman.

What are your thoughts? Are there better ways to get the business owner's attention without pretending to be someone you're not?
#offline marketing #offline #prospecting #unethical
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    I tried this method with only a few businesses and I only received one reply telling me to never contact them again. I won't be using this anymore,
    Had to chuckle a bit - did it become 'unethical' when it didn't work?

    I think of ideas like this as 'parasite marketing". Why would a business want to deal with someone who begins by abusing a function of that business?

    Of course there are better ways - cold calling and ads would be a start. Visiting the business - networking with local business groups, etc. I'm not an offline marketing expert but common sense would tell me to listen to a better "teacher".
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  • Profile picture of the author dburk
    Hi sunshne721,

    That was an incredible bad idea.

    I suggest that you ditch the marketing course and add that " well-known marketer" to your email block list. Don't let fools and idiots become your role model.
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  • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
    Originally Posted by sunshne721 View Post

    Hello everyone,

    I recently purchased an offline marketing course from a pretty well-known marketer. His training basically goes through how to provide web design and landing page services to local business owners. The course also shows you how to prospect for potential clients in a way that he claims will guarantee results! It involves typing a keyword in Google, making a list of only the business owners that have ads within the search results, going to their website and filling out their form pretending to be a potential customer who's interested in their services. If and when you get a reply back, you would then pitch them your services.

    Now I don't know about you guys, but this doesn't seem like an ethical way to prospect. Pretending to be someone who's interested in buying their services is just wrong in my book. It almost seems like you're wasting their time which they could use to help REAL customers. I tried this method with only a few businesses and I only received one reply telling me to never contact them again. I won't be using this anymore, I feel like a slimey salesman.

    What are your thoughts? Are there better ways to get the business owner's attention without pretending to be someone you're not?
    It isn't that it's unethical, it's that it's a terrible way to prospect.
    I own a business with websites. If someone acts like a customer, at the beginning, to then switch to a sales presentation....I immediately say "No".

    The "Let's anger the prospect then try to sell them" approach is silly.
    And this is the exact type of technique that continues to get repeated in sales books, and in courses...by people that have never used it, and do not know how to prospect to sell the thing they are training you to sell.

    I can promise you, the author of this course never even tried this approach once. It's the kind of thing that sounds inventive, but would fall flat on it's face if anyone ever tried it in real life.

    I don't know how to say this without just coming out and saying it.

    I wrote a book on Sales Prospecting, and one on Selling Advertising (which is what you are doing).

    But the single best way I know to get the low hanging fruit in that business is to contact the people who are spending money on print ads already. If you have any local coupon books or a local newspaper, just see who's paying for print advertising. These people are buyers. They buy advertising from ad reps. And what you are selling is essentially advertising. Just call them and tell them you saw their ads and you have an idea that will make their advertising pay better. Then ask for the appointment.

    I promise you, whoever sold you that course, never sold anything in their life, using the method you describe.

    The "Pretend to be a prospect first..." idea is so inept that the fact that it may be considered "unethical" is almost immaterial.

    .
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    • Profile picture of the author SARubin
      Hi sunshne721,

      I have to assume this "well known marketer" is well known for marketing his own questionable courses, to UN-suspecting people?

      Sorry to hear you got caught up in his scam. If it's any consolation... at least you can consider this as the price of education? You've now been educated to be wary of "snake oil" salesmen.

      Listen to what Claude is saying... he knows what he's talking about.


      Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

      I wrote a book on Sales Prospecting, and one on Selling Advertising

      .
      Hi Claude,

      Speaking of your books... Don't know if you remember a couple weeks ago, when I said I bought one of them on Amazon? Thanks to ADHD, it's been sitting on my desk for the past couple weeks. Just started reading "Selling Local Advertising" this morning. So far, it's a good read.

      All the best,
      SAR
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  • Profile picture of the author wifiboos
    A valuable lesson learned, always check, the value and authority of people flogging you something. Do some research and don't trust anybody without some real life references and backup. Shady marketing gives everybody a black mark
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  • Profile picture of the author Ron Lafuddy
    This is a prime example of a "con-man technique" typically promoted by someone who doesn't know
    how to sell. Someone who doesn't know how to sell, can't teach you how to sell, either.

    What they usually do is promote "one-size-fits-all" tricks and gimmicks, as a way to avoid the sales process.

    As you've discovered, tricks and gimmicks don't work in the real world.

    At some point, maybe you'll decide to stop wasting your time and money, and learn some real selling skills.

    When you do a world of opportunities will open for you.

    Ron

    PS I wrote my post before I saw Claude's. Go back and read his again.
    He's so "right on!" it made my teeth hurt...and that ain't easy.

    PPS I've read Claude's book on selling advertising. If you had spent your money on Claude's book, I believe we would be talking about how well your completed project went and how much value you received from Claude's book. Think about it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Low Capital
    An extremely powerful way of connecting to potential leads, is simply by ordering a pizza to their address with a note on top / or inside. This of course, is only good for businesses that are perfect and seem like they would fit your services well! Even if you spent $100 on 10 pizza's, you'd only need to get one client paying you $100's or even $1000's monthly..
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  • Profile picture of the author Allan Lee Grossman
    It's not as unethical as it is just plain stupid.
    The thing I do is grab Verizon yellow pages and see whose advertising. You know these guys are spending money on ads. Approach them.
    I'm more concerned that you didn't give us the guys name. I personally like to know who to stay away from.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    you didn't give us the guys name
    That is not allowed on the forum.
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  • Profile picture of the author cjsparacino123
    just talk to them, get an email or something and talk to them
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  • Profile picture of the author SalesGod
    Nothing wrong with reaching out to a company through there online forum but if your doing it and "pretending " to be a customer thats completely idiotic and you killed your sales process before it even started. I contact companies through there website all the time but I don't pretend to be a customer I just write something compelling that gets them to respond and then I get there number and call them to close them.

    What you should be doing is cold calling these people instead of hoping and praying for them to respond to you online. Get a good script, pick up the phone and call.
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  • Profile picture of the author baronetta
    Definitely not a good idea to base your legitimate business on such scammy business tactics. I never do business with any company that employs such tactics, and I've seen a boatload of slimy approaches over the years.

    And, if you did manage to catch a new customer using those types of tactics, they would more than likely end up being nightmare clients who would have no hesitation in screwing you over! Remember, like attracts like!
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  • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
    Originally Posted by sunshne721 View Post

    Hello everyone,

    I recently purchased an offline marketing course from a pretty well-known marketer. His training basically goes through how to provide web design and landing page services to local business owners. The course also shows you how to prospect for potential clients in a way that he claims will guarantee results! It involves typing a keyword in Google, making a list of only the business owners that have ads within the search results, going to their website and filling out their form pretending to be a potential customer who's interested in their services. If and when you get a reply back, you would then pitch them your services.
    Are you sure the technique isn't to use the "Contact us" form to simply prospect..as you would send them an e-mail? I've seen this in a few books and it's not a bad technique...as long as you are up front with them.

    Using their "Contact us form" just means that your e-mail won't end up in the spam filter. And contacting them isn't the same as pretending you are a potential buyer...leading them on.
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  • Profile picture of the author umc
    It probably does actually say to pretend to be a customer. I've seen it advocated in some WSOs myself, maybe even on a thread or two on here. It's a terrible idea. Why would anyone do business with someone that starts the relationship off with a manipulative misrepresentation? It's just awful business. Honestly, I've seen so many shady things in WSOs over the years. Not much surprises me anymore.
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    • Profile picture of the author Ron Lafuddy
      Originally Posted by umc View Post

      It probably does actually say to pretend to be a customer. I've seen it advocated in some WSOs myself, maybe even on a thread or two on here. It's a terrible idea. Why would anyone do business with someone that starts the relationship off with a manipulative misrepresentation? It's just awful business. Honestly, I've seen so many shady things in WSOs over the years. Not much surprises me anymore.
      They won't.

      It's a shame really, because in the print ad world, most buyers of print advertising will buy from you also - IF - your product makes sense and gives them another way to reach their target market.

      For that reason, it's possible to close one in three (in-person) presentations.

      If you are properly set up, you can do almost as well over the phone.

      Someone who is broke, can go from $0 to $10,000+ per month in contracted income in less than 45 days.

      Disclaimer: I don't sell anything here, so don't ask. I take my own advice which is why I don't need to hustle anything here..
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  • Profile picture of the author savidge4
    Lets break this down a bit... for the most part, the strategy is not all that bad

    Originally Posted by sunshne721 View Post

    I recently purchased an offline marketing course from a pretty well-known marketer. His training basically goes through how to provide web design and landing page services to local business owners. The course also shows you how to prospect for potential clients in a way that he claims will guarantee results! It involves typing a keyword in Google, making a list of only the business owners that have ads
    Right off the bat... identifying those that are actually spending. This is something that is brought up here time and again.. an overall good strategy.

    Originally Posted by sunshne721 View Post

    within the search results, going to their website and filling out their form pretending to be a potential customer who's interested in their services.
    As already noted in the responses above.. here is where the strategy goes south... there is more here than meets the eye. I would without question fill out the form tho - read on to understand why.

    Originally Posted by sunshne721 View Post

    If and when you get a reply back, you would then pitch them your services.
    Here is where things get interesting. I am all about success in the work that I do. One of the most important aspects of any campaign working is for the client to understand the work that is needed once a process is set into place. IF you get a response you have a client that understands this... I would then approach them via phone, walk in whatever, never to mention I used their form for further details. You know they are spending money.. and you know they are following through with their leads... both are good indicaters!

    But what about the others.. the ones that do not respond? To be honest.. these are the ones that I would target. They have shown that they will invest.. that's good, but they are not following through... So you approach them as such... As a test, I filled out your online form.. you did not respond.. I can design a funnel that turns that request, into a phone call for your services... no online work would be needed on your end.. the potential customer would be educated and ready to purchase when they do contact you directly.. is this something you would be interested in?

    Originally Posted by sunshne721 View Post

    Now I don't know about you guys, but this doesn't seem like an ethical way to prospect. Pretending to be someone who's interested in buying their services is just wrong in my book. It almost seems like you're wasting their time which they could use to help REAL customers. I tried this method with only a few businesses and I only received one reply telling me to never contact them again. I won't be using this anymore, I feel like a slimey salesman.
    I see nothing unethical at all.. what is "slimey" here is the approach. The rest of the process is very much common to some extent - replying back to the request is where it gets shady.

    But the key factor is the fact you mention you tried with a "few" business' and only got one response. Those other business' that need the most help.
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  • Profile picture of the author AshleyBolivar
    That's a garbage way of trying to land a client. Move on from that process.
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  • Profile picture of the author Tesslady
    Even though I have a choice to do this, I wouldn't. If I were in the situation of the business owner, I would be pissed! Come on, I was hoping for a client! LOL

    Anyway, there are even better ways to do it. Has anybody ever heard of cold calling? You should try that
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  • Profile picture of the author eccj
    The unethical thing is the guy selling this crap for money.

    I've had people do this to me before and it sucks. It's one reason not to have a contact form.

    I've also had people leave me messages on my cell phone pretending to be prospects and then start pitching me. Finally one company I set an appointment with and no showed just to get my point across.

    The other thing I don't like about it is they are sending money to Google each time you click an ad. It's costing them money for you to sell them. Now that sucks!

    I wouldn't want to be treated like that. I think it falls outside of the "cost of doing business" equation.
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  • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
    i own a retail store.
    A similar thing is when a rep stops by the store and pretends to be interested in buying something, just because they don't know how to start a sales approach.

    They come in with a clip board and dressed nicely. But eventually, I ask "what's this?" and point to the clip board.

    Another thing that humans do is...after I talk to them for a minute about their deal...they walk around the store...looking at vacuum cleaners saying things like "Oh, this is a nice one" and "Wow. this one is reasonably priced". They think that by making a a show of acting like thy are interested in buying something...that I'll be more likely to buy from them.

    It's just a mild irritation, and a waste of time.

    One day an old man came in the store and bought something for $2. He made a big deal out of the fact that he saw an ad on the local grocery store receipt, and that's what caused him to come in.
    I knew what to expect. Of course, the next day his daughter (who sells the ads on the grocery store receipts) called to ask if I get any response from the last ad. (she was selling the next ad).

    I said "No. Nobody has come in off the ad" (knowing she sent her dad in)
    She said "Nobody at all? Nobody mentioned the ad?"
    Me "No. nobody".

    Truthfully the ad was a bust (except for her dad) but I decided right the that I'd never buy from her again.
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    • Profile picture of the author Oziboomer
      Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

      i own a retail store.
      A similar thing is when a rep stops by the store and pretends to be interested in buying something, just because they don't know how to start a sales approach.
      Similar but different.

      I had a guy come in and see me who had broken the glass in one of his picture frames.

      He'd recently relocated from interstate because of his job

      We fixed the frame up and when he picked it up we got talking about some of the other framing things we do. He told me he collected animation cels.

      Low and behold a couple of weeks later he bought in a cel for framing which we did.

      Over the following few months he visited and had several pieces framed and each time I got to know him better. Got to know is wife was having difficult getting full time work and she was still upset she'd given up he high paying job to follow him to this new home.

      Anyway...eventually having done business for maybe 5 months I asked him what he did.

      He said he was the State manager for ReachLocal and he was up here setting up a sales team.

      A week later we were signed up with them managing our adwords account.

      If he had approached me cold and tried to sell me on something that was going to kill yellow pages I don't think I'd have given him much time nor signed up.

      Ironically about a year later my old Yellow Pages rep who had started working for Reach got assigned my account.

      We then expanded into using Livechat and something new called remarketing.

      Over the time I was still running some other adwords account for a different business I owned and as part of that I did a few training courses and also joined Mike Rhodes forum.

      You can imagine what the old Yellow Pages rep, who'd probably got close to $20K a year in ad spend during the time I advertised with yellow pages, felt when I cancelled out of Reach and started to manage all our campaigns in house.

      Claude, the observation you make of the rep paying lip service to your products seems to be a common thing all the reps tend to do.

      Where do you think they learned that trait from?

      Best regards,

      Ozi
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      • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
        Originally Posted by Oziboomer View Post

        Similar but different.

        I had a guy come in and see me who had broken the glass in one of his picture frames.

        He'd recently relocated from interstate because of his job

        We fixed the frame up and when he picked it up we got talking about some of the other framing things we do. He told me he collected animation cels.

        Low and behold a couple of weeks later he bought in a cel for framing which we did.

        Over the following few months he visited and had several pieces framed and each time I got to know him better. Got to know is wife was having difficult getting full time work and she was still upset she'd given up he high paying job to follow him to this new home.

        Anyway...eventually having done business for maybe 5 months I asked him what he did.

        He said he was the State manager for ReachLocal and he was up here setting up a sales team.

        A week later we were signed up with them managing our adwords account.

        If he had approached me cold and tried to sell me on something that was going to kill yellow pages I don't think I'd have given him much time nor signed up.

        Ironically about a year later my old Yellow Pages rep who had started working for Reach got assigned my account.

        We then expanded into using Livechat and something new called remarketing.

        Over the time I was still running some other adwords account for a different business I owned and as part of that I did a few training courses and also joined Mike Rhodes forum.

        You can imagine what the old Yellow Pages rep, who'd probably got close to $20K a year in ad spend during the time I advertised with yellow pages, felt when I cancelled out of Reach and started to manage all our campaigns in house.

        Claude, the observation you make of the rep paying lip service to your products seems to be a common thing all the reps tend to do.

        Where do you think they learned that trait from?

        Best regards,

        Ozi

        I don't know. But I know I did it myself a few times when I was 21 or 22 ...selling life insurance. I just didn't know how to start the sales conversation.
        A related story.

        About ten years ago, a woman came into our store and gave us a giant grapefruit...and told us that she was a lawyer. The same thing next year, and the next. One day she came in with a grapefruit and I said "Do you do wills?" And now she's our lawyer.

        It's called "Farming" and it works.

        An unrelated story. I had a friend that sold life insurance. He invited my wife and me to his home for dinner, and after dinner gave us a tour of his home. It was a historical home (I don't remember how).

        He told me that this was his sole way of prospecting for life insurance clients. A few times a week, he would invite a couple he met for dinner at his home...and he said that nearly 100% bought life insurance from him.

        His rule was that he never brought it up. He may have left openings for them to bring it up..but he never did. He didn't have customers. He had friends that were clients.

        He was very comfortable with how he prospected, and he was a good producer.
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        • Profile picture of the author Ron C Farrow
          Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

          I don't know. But I know I did it myself a few times when I was 21 or 22 ...selling life insurance. I just didn't know how to start the sales conversation.
          A related story.

          About ten years ago, a woman came into our store and gave us a giant grapefruit...and told us that she was a lawyer. The same thing next year, and the next. One day she came in with a grapefruit an I said "Do you do wills?" And now she's our lawyer.

          It's called "Farming" and it works.

          An unrelated story. I had a friend tat sold life insurance. He invited my wife and me to his home for dinner, and after dinner gave us a tour of his home. It was a historical home (I don't remember how).

          He told me that this was his sole way of prospecting for life insurance clients. A few times a week, he would invite a couple he met for dinner at his home...and he said that nearly 100% bought life insurance from him.

          His rule was that he never brought it up. He may have left openings for them to bring it up..but he never did. He didn't have customers. He had friends that were clients.

          He was very comfortable with how he prospected, and he was a good producer.
          Love the "friends for clients" line. I made a decent offline living for 30 years doing just that.
          Perhaps not quite such a soft sell, mine was a B to B type business but never hard sold or tried to "game" anyone.

          My best friend was a cold call in 1989.
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        • Profile picture of the author Ron C Farrow
          Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

          I don't know. But I know I did it myself a few times when I was 21 or 22 ...selling life insurance. I just didn't know how to start the sales conversation.
          A related story.

          About ten years ago, a woman came into our store and gave us a giant grapefruit...and told us that she was a lawyer. The same thing next year, and the next. One day she came in with a grapefruit an I said "Do you do wills?" And now she's our lawyer.

          It's called "Farming" and it works.

          An unrelated story. I had a friend tat sold life insurance. He invited my wife and me to his home for dinner, and after dinner gave us a tour of his home. It was a historical home (I don't remember how).

          He told me that this was his sole way of prospecting for life insurance clients. A few times a week, he would invite a couple he met for dinner at his home...and he said that nearly 100% bought life insurance from him.

          His rule was that he never brought it up. He may have left openings for them to bring it up..but he never did. He didn't have customers. He had friends that were clients.

          He was very comfortable with how he prospected, and he was a good producer.
          Love the "friends for clients" line. I made a decent offline living for 30 years doing just that.
          Perhaps not quite such a soft sell, mine was a B to B type business but never hard sold or tried to "game" anyone.

          My best friend was a cold call in 1981.
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  • Profile picture of the author superbling
    A far better way would be to look at their website and see if there is a little something you can do for free, like add a Facebook like box for example.
    You could then contact them, saying you have noticed the problem, here's a solution (you could point them to your youtube video telling them how to do it themselves) lets hope we can do business in the future.
    Then market your other services. You have already established a good relationship with out scamming anyone
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    • Profile picture of the author Oziboomer
      Originally Posted by superbling View Post

      A far better way would be to look at their website and see if there is a little something you can do for free, like add a Facebook like box for example.
      You could then contact them, saying you have noticed the problem, here's a solution (you could point them to your youtube video telling them how to do it themselves) lets hope we can do business in the future.
      Then market your other services. You have already established a good relationship with out scamming anyone
      Might just be better to actually help the prospect and deliver an outcome rather than sending them off to a DIY solution.

      When it comes to websites or anything you want to do for a business there is one thing that needs to be established first and that is trust

      Anything that involves passwords or accessing servers or anything web related needs a level of professionalism and trust building before you try to help the prospect or customer.

      Think about any offer you've been made.

      I get calls everyday about a wide variety of solutions for business - cheaper energy, better merchant fees, advertising, website SEO etc etc.

      98.9% of those calls do nothing to help me trust the caller.

      Establishing a relationship comes before you getting any access to modify a website not after.

      Best regards,

      Ozi
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  • Profile picture of the author brookeharper08
    This is one terrible marketing course. It's so wrong in so many levels I mean I just can't believe that some people make money out of offering these type of "courses", which are utter non-sense.

    You may want to reevaluate your subscription with this "well-known" marketer or better yet, sever all ties.
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