Salesmen (and saleswomen) have received a bad reputation over the years. I don’t believe this reputation is accurate, and there are a lot of good salespeople out there. That being said, here are some signs that you’re being sold a bill of goods, and you should probably stay away from this salesman.
They speak in absolutes; their way is the only way
One of the first things you will notice is that these gurus speak in absolutes all the time.
For example, if a real estate investor believes that there is absolutely NO way you can be successful investing in the stock market, and does not diversify at all…red flag.
There are so many different ways to build wealth, and every (normal) wealthy person I know understands this.
They may invest mainly in one asset class, but should at least acknowledge there are other ways to achieve success.
I, for one, am primarily invested in real estate. Nonetheless, I still have a little money that I gamble within the stock market, as well as over a year’s salary invested in my Thrift Savings Plan, and some small investments in private businesses.
Ultimately, I’m all for specializing in a certain investment strategy. The moment somebody starts telling you—especially if it is unsolicited advice—that you shouldn’t invest in anything else, it is a red flag.
This is especially true if they suggest cashing out your retirement account, or using your credit card to take on excessive amounts of debt, investing with them, or in their strategy.
They focus on fear, and if you do not do it their way you’ll fail
“Fear-mongering” is a term that has become more and more mainstream over the last few years, and for good reason.
There are a lot of people who use it as a tactic to advance their position on things.
For example, if you weren’t scared of being overweight or unhealthy, why would you workout?
If you weren’t scared of going broke, why would you save money instead of enjoying every penny of it?
Fear is an extremely powerful motive.
That being said, you need to be able to spot this fear-mongering tactic objectively and see it for what it is.
If the main point of this person's argument is that you will fail without them, it may be worth looking elsewhere for advice.
They won’t talk about commission structure publicly
This is a big one for me.
You need to know how the person that is selling you gets compensated.
Real estate agents are out in the open with their commission structure, and that is a great practice. Everyone knows that they receive a commission (generally3% of the sales price) when they find a buyer for a home, or sell a listing.
There are strict rules about what can and cannot be done with commissions in the real estate world.
A less regulated, and more murky, market is the insurance industry. I often see insurance salesmen pushing whole life insurance as the absolute best solution for everyone.
While there is certainly a time and a place for whole life insurance, and there are some really interesting strategies you can use with whole life to help you build wealth, it should not be blanket advice.
I haven’t met an insurance salesman yet who would openly discuss their commission structure with me.
Most of them don’t even want to mention how much more money they receive from selling you a whole life policy, than a term life policy.
This isn’t meant to be a jab at the insurance industry, there are many examples of places that are very secretive about how they get paid.
The reason you want to know this is to know how they are incentivized to sell.
Are they incentivized for your best interest, or to push a specific product on you?
Understanding the motivation behind what they are recommending to you, and seeing it objectively, is a great way to ensure you make the right decision.
They try to take conversations offline
One of the fastest ways to raise a red flag online is by sending unsolicited messages to me.
This is so indicative of spam, that I have keywords on my Facebook group so that I will see when somebody says they just messaged when unsolicited.
If you are privately messaged by somebody without asking them to message you, it is a good sign they are selling a bill of goods.
If they were genuinely trying to give you valuable advice, they wouldn’t be afraid to comment on the post publicly.
My favorite is when I see somebody join my Facebook group and post an introduction to themselves stating where they live, and what real estate they own, or what their goals are.
Then somebody will comment “pm sent”, or “I just messaged you”, or just comment about how great a real estate agent/lender they are, when the person never even mentioned that they needed to find a real estate agent.
I see this spammy method of messaging people to solicit business all the time, and it drives me nuts.
Check this out, the people who are messaging you directly, or pitching their business on posts that aren’t soliciting it, are not the best in the business.
If they were truly good at their job, they wouldn’t need to solicit business by spamming people.
They show gross numbers when talking about success (drop shipping, Airbnb, etc.)
A surefire sign that something is amiss, is when you only see gross numbers.
I have seen this all over the place when people sell courses on drop-shipping, Short-term rentals (Airbnb), and most recently Amazon automation stores.
You will often see this in the form of “why should you listen to me? Because over the last few years I have made $X,XXX,XXX doing this” and then they pan over to their screen, which shows gross revenue.
They don’t mention how much of that money went to expenses, or what realistic expectations are, simply, how much money they have generated…before expenses.
This is another trick that is easy to miss if you’re not savvy with their method of generating income.
Maybe it is just me, but talking about money, money, and more money, isn’t the way to sell me on something.
Also, you should always be skeptical when somebody negates mentioning the downsides or expenses associated with the upsides or income.
Anything that requires you to wire them funds
Don’t ever wire funds to anybody.
If you want more information on this, check out the article I wrote about common scams.
The Bottom Line about Crappy Salesman to Stay Clear of…
Another interesting thing that I have seen before, is having people pay for your product, in order to earn the opportunity to be in your spotlight.
I suppose this is no different than paying for a certificate, but I think it is cheesy to have somebody pay for your product, and then spend 30-days promoting your group/product, in order to be recognized as having achieved something.
Anyway look, there are a lot of Gurus out there.
Nobody will look out for your interests more than you will.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying courses, coaching, mentorship, masterminds, etc. In fact, I highly recommend these things.
Just make sure you aren’t falling prey to some bullshit guru!
If you want to learn more about how to debunk Guru’s check out my buddy Spencer Cornelia’s YouTube channel where he hosts a series called “Authentic or Charlatan”, or Coffeezilla, another YouTuber who exposes so-called “Guru’s”