The names have been changed in this article to protect the guilty ;)

A couple months back I was asked to speak at a conference in Los Angeles. I honestly had no idea what the conference was about for the most part, but I figured I’d accept a free trip down to Los Angeles to catch up with a friend of mine. I don’t remember the exact name of the conference but it was something to the extent of “Supercharge your business!” Once I arrived I quickly realized that I was not attending a legitimate conference but instead a live sales pitch.

I was placed on the only panel of the day to sit on stage and talk with what turned out to be a bunch of self-help gurus. As I always do, I took the opportunity to serve as part of the day’s entertainment, somewhat oblivious to what was going on around me. All the people who were on the panel with me had built personal brands for themselves, one of whom is probably in the top 5 largest self-help gurus in the world.

The others were people you never heard of before. They were known only among the people who regularly attend self-help conferences. After the panel I struck up a conversation with one of the other panelists, Melinda Hill, who said that she regularly consults entrepreneurs who were trying to figure out their next steps. She was already selling me. After a short conversation she said that she would follow-up after the conference.

A panel of sales people

The fellow panelists were glowing examples of material success. Many of them had over-priced outfits, a glowing personality, and a confident facade. They spoke of all the great people they knew and all the places they had travelled. Life was great! We were all placed on stage to simply demonstrate that you too can have the success that we each have experienced.

I don’t disagree with the message at all, however once I saw a number of hard sales pitches made on stage, and loads of back of the room sales taking place, I immediately started feeling uncomfortable. Despite the feeling, I decided to chalk up the trip to a great learning experience. I proceeded to the airport and hopped on a plane back to San Francisco.

The call

I was happy to be back in San Francisco and spent a day or two reflecting on the overall experience (something I’ll save for another post). At this point I figured I was in the clear, I wouldn’t have to deal with a lot of the “predatory deal seeking” people I had met at the event. Then my phone rang. It was early in the morning and Melinda Hill was following-up to reconnect and see if there were any ways we could work together.

After a little bit of chit chat and me concluding that there were no actionable steps for us in terms of business deals, she began her sales pitch. During an hour long conversation she explained to me her services, how she had helped others turn around their lives (something I didn’t exactly need), helped to provide direction (something I occasionally need), and more. I decided to listen because I figured, hey, maybe she can provide some useful insight, and how much could she actually cost? Maybe a couple hundred dollars an hour due to her “celebrity” clients?

After talking with her for an hour and questioning her value, she finally let me know the price. It would cost $20,000 for a six hour session (because she doesn’t have eight hours available) with her down in Los Angeles. She provided a money-back guarantee (which was contingent on you doing whatever she told you to do) as well! Over the course of the hour I was somewhat pulled in to her sales pitch and had at one point considered working with her. However minutes after she mentioned the price I snapped out of it.

She began trying to get me to provide my credit card number and I basically flipped out. Was she really trying to sell me something the price of a decent new car over the phone? I told her I was insulted and quickly ended the conversation. As I told her that I’d have to get back to her she began spitting out many of the last ditch sales tactics. “Just so you know, the price is going to go up at the end of August.” “You’ll be lucky if I can fit you in my schedule.”

Keep in mind, this woman’s entire sales pitch was that she was featured on CNN once before. While I was suspicious of my fellow panelists at the conference days earlier, Melinda confirmed for me that she was among some of the most hardcore sales people that I’ve met.

What are the most ridiculous deals that you’ve been offered?