I got an email offer for a free consultation with someone in the publishing world whose alleged consulting rate is $1000 an hour. As I do have a book project percolating, I was curious as to what I could learn, even though I was completely confident it would not be worth $1000 unless it entailed a flat out offer to publish my book sight unseen!
Of course that’s not what it would’ve been. The free consultation would have involved some (possibly) useful advice as well as listening to a pitch for buying a program of some kind.
There is nothing wrong with that. I offer free breakthrough sessions and classes to introduce people to my work too. It’s an entirely reasonable way to make connections with those who might be interested in what a service provider has to offer. I hoped there would be a range of follow-up choices and was open-minded about possibilities.
First there was a form to fill out. Okay. There I learned there was also a “pre-consultation” call which was not with the publisher, but with his assistant, who was going to interview me to see if I truly “qualified” for the consultation with her boss.
Okay, still I was willing to jump one more hoop.
But the experience was highly unpleasant. The assistant started by wanting by knowing “how much money I was prepared to invest in myself” and whether I “truly believed in my own potential.” I was then told what I would have to have accomplished on my project within the next two weeks in order to “show my seriousness” and qualify for the free hour. I was not permitted to ask any questions while being told that this constituted offering me “the highest quality of service.” The follow-up email (from someone of whom I was going to be allowed to ask questions) never arrived.
About two weeks later I started getting cheerful voicemails from said assistant notifying me that, (what do you know!) I had been deemed “qualified” for a consultation. I ignored them, but they kept coming. (Was this the set-up all along? To make me feel grateful not to have been rejected and therefore ready to buy?)
Today I decided to answer the phone and simply say that I was no longer interested. I told the assistant I had experienced her on the previous call as rude and dismissive and, in addition, the promised follow-up email had not happened. I told her I had lost confidence in the company, because, either her boss knows how she speaks to potential customers and finds it acceptable, or he doesn’t bother to track that, and neither speaks well of him. Either way, I had lost interest.
She seemed entirely taken aback and apologized, which may well have been sincere. Nevertheless, the chance that I would want to work with this firm in any capacity was gone.
It’s a hard-sell world out there way too much of the time, and I’m not willing to participate in that on either end – either as provider or as client.
I will continue to stand for the world I want to live in by the choices I make.
I could have let these calls keep going to voicemail until they finally died out, but that’s not the world I want to live in either. I wanted the assistant to know what the impact of her approach had been, because there was at least some chance that might make a difference – for her! She and I had had a conflict she didn’t even know about. I could still take the initiative to address that, increasing by some unknowable amount the chance that she would treat another person differently.
It became obvious she wanted to keep me on the line with her apologies until I changed my mind. No thanks. I’d already extended myself to take the call and give her feedback I hoped might be of value. I told her I wished her well in her career and that I needed to get back to work.
That was the highest quality of service I could offer.
With You on the Path,