The Sales Seminar That Wasn’t

I preface this with a warning. This is a long story, a very long story. It’s more than 2,000 words. If you’re not into long stories then leave now and forget you ever heard of it. But if long stories don’t bother you, then I hope you enjoy it and learn from it because there are always lessons to learn from stories, right?

I tell this tale because there’s more than one lesson to learn from it, and because it’s true. It’s a story about murder, intrigue, sex… okay, no it’s not. But it is a story about misinformation, misdirection, and redemption.

A few weeks ago a young friend of mine named Mandee sent out a link on Facebook indicating that there was a sales training that was going to take place that Saturday; it was Wednesday night when she sent the link. That’s pretty quick for me to usually make that kind of decision because I kind of value my Saturdays, but I decided I would check out the link.

The person who was going to be doing the sales training was named Jeffery Combs. By the way, turns out there’s two Jeffrey Combs, first names spelled differently, and the other one is an actor who’s been on two versions of Star Trek and was also on a show called The 4400; it wasn’t him. lol

Anyway, I saw that he’s a guy who’s been all over the country giving all kinds of seminars. It also looked like there were a lot of people who enjoyed his seminars, as I saw a lot of nice things written about him, so I figured this might be okay. I saw the things he said he was going to be talking about, and I was interested in learning those things.

It was supposed to be a sales training seminar, and as I have mentioned many times on this blog over the years sales is the worst thing I have to deal with in my business. I’m a horrible sales guy; I’ll just put that out front. Yet, I’ve been able to make it this far, and anytime I can get some pretty good sales training I’m going to take advantage of it.

I will have to say this though; the Spidey senses were tingling. They were tingling because this was going to be a six hour sales training seminar yet the cost was only $30. Trust me, if you’re going to a seminar by a nationally recognized speaker and it’s only $30 you’re probably going to be skeptical as well. After all, I charged $150 for my 4 1/2 hour seminars last year on social media. But I couldn’t figure out what I could be missing, and I trusted Mandee so I figured let’s do this thing.

Now it’s Saturday morning and I’ve driven across town to the Doubletree Hotel. I think I’ve mentioned in the past how much I love going to the Doubletree Hotel because I believe they have the best cookies in the world. I looked at the schedule of events for the hotel that day and I didn’t see the sales training. I thought that was odd, but I’m familiar with the hotel so I walked through all the different training areas and office space areas, but I couldn’t find the seminar.

I walked back to the front of the hotel and went to the front desk and asked them where the sales training was. The woman behind the desk pointed to an area and said “it’s right over there”. I looked over there and saw sign that said Isagenix and asked if she was sure about it; she was.

I walked over to that area and there was no one sitting at the desk, and there was no information on the desk about the sales training, but there were people in the room and there was someone already speaking. I was still confused because it was about five minutes before 10, when the presentation was supposed to be starting, and I couldn’t believe there would be someone already speaking, and it was a woman instead of a man, which is what I was expecting.

Almost immediately someone came out of one of the doors, saw me there and asked if I was there for the sales presentation. I said yes, and he introduced himself as Jeffery Combs. I have to admit I was expecting a bigger guy based on the pictures online, but he was very warm and friendly and shook my hand. He said I was in the right place and he wrote a name tag for me and encouraged me to go inside. I opened the door and looked into the room and saw that it was packed with people, and an absolutely stunning woman was at the front talking. I stepped back and looked at him and he told me this was the right place and to go on inside and find a seat.

I slowly walked up the side and I saw where there were three seats available, one of them being on the end. I’m usually a back row guy, but if I can’t get the back row I always try to sit on the end. I sat down, took a look to my left and saw Mandee was sitting two seats away. She had her legs crossed, and her hands were holding onto her notebook, which was closed. She looked as confused as I felt. I pulled out a piece of paper and wrote a note asking “What’s going on? I’m confused.” She wrote back “I’m confused as well.”

Let me tell you about the woman at the front of the room that was talking. I did mention she was absolutely stunning, didn’t I? She was wearing a pink wraparound dress that fit her body like a glove. And she was in great shape I must say. Her hair was long and straight just about down to her shoulders. The dress itself was about midway between knees and hip, so she was showing a lot of leg. And she was wearing these shoes… well, they’re hard to describe, but I’ll just say that they were definitely modern, something I’d never seen before, and were a cross between those high-heeled short boots that you see some women wear and open sandals. Very sexy shoes indeed.

After a few minutes I realized I couldn’t see through my glasses all that well, which meant I needed to clean them off. I got up and walked to the back of the room to try to find a napkin. Jeffery saw me and stood up and came to greet me again. He shook my hand again and then he hugged me… yes, you read that right, he hugged me. I know my eyes went wide because there was another woman who was sitting in the back who looked at me and gave me a very big smile, and I pretty much figured he had hugged her as well. I told him what I was looking for, and he looked and couldn’t find a napkin but he had a towel which worked just fine. I cleaned off my glasses and sat back down.

After about 10 minutes the lady who was speaking said that they were going to take a 10 minute break and when they came out of the break Jeffery would be speaking to the group. While she was talking I started to realize that what we were participating in was actually a pep talk for people that either sold Isagenix products, which are basically health supplements and health food items (Isagenix is a MLM company), or were being recruited to become salespeople for the products. It made me wonder if they were sponsoring Jeffery’s presentation.

During the break Mandee and I talked about how confused we were, and Jeffery came over once again to shake both of our hands again and gave me another half hug and told us what was going on. The story was that he had been invited to come speak to this group because the woman who we had been watching was a coaching client of his, and she was his most successful client. So I guess she asked him to come to give a presentation to the Isagenix people to help them learn how to make sales. Thing is, he drove in from Wisconsin and he brought about 5 people with him that also all drove in from Wisconsin; I’m not even going to try to figure out how long that drive must have been.

After about 15 minutes everybody was requested to take their seats so that Jeffery could begin his presentation. At this point I knew that we were not getting the sales presentation that I expected, but I still wanted to hear him speak to see what he was going to say. Overall, he was a very good speaker, and I loved his delivery. He also told us a little bit about his history, which helped to explain how come he had hugged me and kept shaking my hand; that’s all I’m going to say about that.

He talked for almost 2 hours, which wasn’t bad except he did go over the time that they had allotted for him. He talked about a lot of concepts, but since it wasn’t the type of sales presentation I was expecting, I have to admit that as good as he was it just wasn’t what I was expecting or looking for. I also have to say that some of the sales techniques he was teaching the people in the room were things that I myself would probably never do to anybody; let me clarify that, I wouldn’t do to anybody. In my mind, they’re the kind of techniques to take advantage of a person’s weakness when they’re not ready to make a decision, and that’s probably one of the biggest things that has always kept me from even wanting to think about participating in a MLM organization and why we often don’t trust salespeople.

There was one thing he said that kind of threw me off a bit. He said that he believes every person should belong to one MLM so they can be bringing in residual income on the back end that will always take care of those the essentials while you’re making your other money. I tend not to believe that, thinking instead that if one can make some money through affiliate or internet sales that it might be just as good without all the, well, “effort” otherwise; I’ll leave it at that.

When the group finally broke for lunch I knew that I wasn’t coming back for the afternoon; Mandee agreed. So we had some time to talk to each other for a couple of hours and I learned a lot about her and her business acumen that I liked.

The next night I found Jeffery Combs on Facebook and I contacted him. I told him that while I enjoyed his presentation, overall the event wasn’t what I expected it to be. I felt that the sales flyer that I’d seen online represented something totally different than what he did and that the entire event was misleading. But I did make sure to let him know that I thought he was good. He wrote back to tell me that he was sorry for the miscommunication, that his assistant had put something up and he hadn’t checked behind her.

What he did next was unexpected; he refunded my money. I thought that was very kind of him because he really didn’t have to do that, especially since I did sit through his entire presentation and overall I enjoyed what he had to say, even if there was some things said that I would never do. To me that showed a great level of class, and is the type of thing where I would never have any problem in recommending him to someone who was looking for a sales presenter or speaker in general.

To me, there were many lessons to be learned from this event.

One, if the Spidey senses are tingling you probably know already that there’s something not right. I went anyway because it didn’t cost that much, and though I didn’t get out of it what I expected to get out of it, I did get this story.

Two, even when things aren’t great you just might find something positive coming out of it. In this case it was my having an opportunity to talk to Mandee for a while as well as to hear how another professional speaker conducts himself with a live audience.

And three, how going the extra step when you know someone feels as though they didn’t get what was expected from something you did and trying to make it right can help to instill positivity towards you and your organization. Of course, if I had spent two hours talking to somebody I don’t know that I would’ve given the money back, but he could see how the flyer might have misrepresented exactly what was going to take place.

I know this was long, but stories are sometimes like that, especially true ones. I hope you check out the link to Jeffery’s site. And of course I hope you tell me what you think of this story, and how you would’ve reacted to everything that happened.

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20 thoughts on “The Sales Seminar That Wasn’t”

  1. Hey Mitch,

    Jeffrey puts on his own seminars called “More Heart Than Talent” which I have attended. Yes, I’ve also met him in person and gotten the hug too! Nope, he’s not what I expected either. I believe we’re the same height and I’m not tall at all. But he is openly nice, very genuine and after hearing his story you can see why he is the way he is. I applaud him for what he’s accomplished.

    I think that was very generous of him to refund your money and I believe that if anyone of my customers was unhappy with something I would and have done the same. He instantly knew you would think better of him for having done that. And yes, that’s the kind of guy he is.

    Thanks for the story, I read every word and couldn’t wait to find out what you were going to share when I saw Jeffrey’s picture. At least something good came from this and that was spending more time with Mandee so your day wasn’t totally lost.


    1. Thanks Adrienne. He really was a nice guy and I’m glad it all worked out well in the long run because I certainly wasn’t expecting what I got overall. I hope he decides to come to Syracuse to do his own seminar one day.

  2. Oh, by accident, I first landed on actors website, however the 2nd click was at the right place. Sales are nightmare for me, I guess this is basically genetics, nobody from my family is good in sales, however I am good in presentation. I understand your disappointment, I have been in worse situation going on hi-tech seminar finding myself in high tech exhibition the best cookers and friers for bugs and insects (I am not joking). So I looked at his website, there are a lot of free materials and lessons available, huge library, as soon as I finish writing comment, I will take a deeper look.

    1. There you go Carl; I hope you find some stuff that helps you out. Course, now my mind’s got to get that “frying bugs” thing out of there. lol

      1. Pretty helpful, already sign up for some free daily courses and downloading free mp3. Probably I should invest is some ebook reader, rarely reading on the PC or laptop, excepts websites. Haha, about the bugs, I was with my father, he was impressed he watched the whole show more than 4 hours, got a lot of brochures and catalogs.

  3. I loved the story. I loved Jeffrey when I came to the part where he refunded the money to you. I love you for writing such a magnificent post.

    1. Thank you Rummuser; I really appreciate that. And Jeffery was class as well.

  4. Hi Mitch,

    I’m glad that you were able to draw positives from this experience, but I don’t think that I would have gone to the lengths that you did to arrive at the positive outcome.

    My experience with sales people is that many are pushy, scheming, and only interested in striking the best deal. I meet with many of them at work and I’m not patient when I feel that I’m being manipulated. Abrupt endings to meeting are not unheard of.

    Like you, I’m not comfortable with sales, so I prefer to be on the other side of the table. I understand that being in sales is probably a rough job, but that doesn’t excuse some of their behaviors.


    1. Great stuff Ray. You know, I’ve been to some other sales training sessions, and many of them know some “tricks” that, to me, are manipulative sometimes. However, some things seem like manipulation but are actually just basic listening skills. With a long training session, the idea is to glean stuff that maybe you’ll feel comfortable doing; being a sole proprietor, this is what I’m trying to learn.

      In this case the conversation was geared towards a certain type of audience, so I’m sure they got way more out of it than I did because it wasn’t geared towards me.

  5. Hi, Mitch!
    this story was worth reading, I really enjoyed it, even the digressions you made about the Doubletree Hotel having the best cookies!Ahah,it made me laugh, you are really cool (I remembered at that point, your previous post of food and habits)! I think it’s nice from Jeff to give you the money back-as you say,it’s a classy thing, although he didnt have to do it. But,he obviosuly felt that way, and I must notice it is nice from his side. However, I am still thinking of the part of your post where you noticed that some things in his training were showing that you should take an advantage of a person’s weakness in order to sell something. I also do not agree with that method…so, his gesture of giving you back the money in my eyes still doesn’t set him free of guilt for making such a speech.

    1. Kristina, I think he geared his presentation to MLM crowd, and since he participates in MLM himself he knew how to talk to them. However, as I said, it’s one big reason why I hate MLM pitches and their concepts, even if some people might make a bit of money off it. I don’t fault him for his speech because as a speaker myself sometimes we’re asked to gear our presentation based on the crowd that’s hearing it. Still, I wouldn’t do some of those things.

  6. Well, I would have loved a photo of the lady in the sexy shoes Mitch. Couldn’t you sneak one with that fancy phone of yours? 😀

    Also you forgot to mention, did you score any cookies while you were there.

    As for sales meetings, I lost my love for those when I was training to be a salesman, way too many shonky ways of persuading a mark to part with their money.

    1. Sire, of course I scored cookies; three! lol And I was going to try to get a picture of her but decided it wouldn’t have been proper and put it away.

      1. No, I never got her name; remember, she wasn’t on the flyer so I didn’t know she would be there.

  7. Mitch, I think Sire would have preferred a picture that was improper 😉

    I went to his website and didn’t care for it. I didn’t see his story on his site.

    As for giving you the $30 back, I probably would have too. Heck you might not have written this post without it. How many people have now heard of him now because of your post?

    1. Ned, I actually told him at the seminar before he started that I was going to be writing about it and he seemed nonplussed by it, though I can imagine what he might have thought. As it is I don’t think Mandee wishes that I’d written this story but I did anyway and since she was a part of it I was including her, though I decided not to include a link to her site. I didn’t think it was proper for me to share his story, even if he tells it, which is why I didn’t go there.

      As for Sire, well, he really seems to like revisiting my post on cleavage and that was from a couple of years ago; I think he likes being teased. lol

    2. You’re darn tootin Ned. No disrespect to the bloke in the photo but he sure don’t rest easy on my eyes.

  8. Mitch,

    Because it’s YOU, I chose to read the VERY LONG POST 🙂

    Sadly, this happens more often than not. Didn’t you just almost experience something similar with the BIG NAMES supposedly coming to your area?

    False advertising is BIG BUSINESS. It sells and it works despite some of the horror stories you may hear afterwards.

    The fact that this dude gave you a refund does say one of two things:

    1) He’s a class act
    2) He made so much money that your little $30 meant nothing.

    He’s also pretty smart too because you’ve given him ADDITIONAL exposure with this blog post and tooted his horn. HE SCORES! That’s what publicity is all about.

    1. Good stuff, Bev. Yes, I did almost go to that scam motivational seminar in Rochester and I’m glad you and others knew about it beforehand and warned me away. I would just hate myself if I falsely represented something I knew I wasn’t going to deliver on. And yes, I gave him his props because he was a good speaker and presenter.

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