Have You Been Hit With Buyer Beware?

    If you are like many others and myself, you receive your share of junk or spam mail. From time to time I read through some of these for a laugh. Each day the garbage that some profess amazes me. Unfortunately some of these messages make it difficult to discern fact from fiction.

    However two of these caught my eye distinctly. Both situations indicated that two gentleman were millionaire business coaches. The problem: One listed his current occupation as a business development representative for a window cleaning company and the other just began his business in 2008. So riddle me this Batman: How are two individuals able to claim fortune given their backgrounds?

    Unfortunately the Internet is rift with snake oil sales agents and thieves. It is very easy to become deceived if you do not do your homework and become engrossed in the horse hockey that some pontificate. The Internet -” especially during recessions -” brings about attention to what is known as “caveat emptor” or affectionately known as “buyer beware.”

    I’d like to call your attention to becoming more aware of these self-proclaimed experts:

    1. Google it just a little bit -“ Many years ago if I needed access to information I needed to visit a library and review an array of cards from something known as a card catalog. Today if you want information it is available wherever, whenever and however you need it. Don’t know? Then certainly Google it.

    2. Read the fine print -“ The problem with the Internet is the amount of content, and I understand that you like many others are overwhelmed. Yet do not just scan information, but rather be clear about what the person offers and look for “hidden” messages that declare fortune or fraud.

    3. Review their website -“ When you are car hunting you read the websites and finally visit a showroom. Information is only a click away, so look at biographies and the testimonials to ensure that what is being stated is congruent with what you seek. In addition, look for the value. Is the person providing valuable information or are they simply trying to sell you swamp land, books, audios, cookies, etc.

    4. Review Social Media -“ Look to discover where the person has produced additional information and whether there is value. There is a big difference in being found on Google as a search term or as an advertisement. Know the difference.

    5. Take a test drive -“ Call the person and see if there is a fit. One of the first things to look for is if the person answers their own phone and how soon they return your call. Behaviors tell much about what the future holds in store. Would you buy a car without driving it?

    6. Ask around -“ The best way to determine if the fit is right is to call some former clients and seek out your own network. Good research is the pinnacle of success.

    7. When in doubt -“ Go with what your gut tells you. Yes there is some risk involved but ensure you have some guarantees to protect you. The biggest thing to remember is not getting sucked into someone else’s fantasy.

    Do you have stories concerning buyer beware? I would love to hear them. There is much to learn. In fact, I’ll bet there are many. Write them in the comment field below.

    Drew Stevens, Ph.D., is president of Stevens Consulting Group. He is the author of “Split Second Selling” and the founder and coordinator of the Sales Leadership Program at Saint Louis University. Contact him at www.stevensconsultinggroup.com.