Don’t Do ‘The Hustle’ (Issue 859)

In which we are reminded, “Enough, already, with the boiler room.”

A week ago, my phone rang: Ring, ring.

“Hi, this is Nick.”

“Nick, this is Peter Bentley from Sarsaparilla Investments, the investment company in Southford. We’re working on a fund with [a well known firm] that is yielding 5%. That sounds like a yield you might find attractive.”

(Pause) “What do you know about me, Peter?”

“Well, nothing, this is an introductory call.”

“Well, Peter, it seems to me that, without knowing anything about me, it would be premature for you to recommend that investment to me. You wouldn’t know whether it would be a good fit for me or not.”


(Pause) “Peter, thanks for the call.”

“Take care.”


Yuck! Peter’s approach was so 1980s – boiler room slick product hustle. I called Sarsaparilla’s parent company to complain.

That said: Peter did one thing VERY well: He led with a brief, clear, and, potentially, compelling value proposition. Terrific! Not a good fit for me, as it turns out, and Sarsaparilla may want exactly the people that this value proposition attracts – price chasers: People who would jump at transactions for a price (or yield). A+ for that.

However: Peter’s prospecting patter was not previously prepared. [I wonder: Is Peter’s manager or coach paying attention here?] He should have prepared for his prospects’ most likely responses, e.g. “No, thank you.”

Second: When prospects proffer paths to learn more, take them!!! When I said, “You wouldn’t know whether it would be a good fit for me or not,” Peter heard me close him out. Ah, and he could have said, “Yes, you’re right, and would you be interested to see whether that investment or others we might offer would be a good fit for you?” I might still have said, “no,” and it might have led to a more productive outcome for Peter and for me.

Finally: After all that’s happened recently, in the current consumer and regulatory environment: Know your customer before recommending (or even hinting at recommending) investments, loans, insurance, credit cards, or other financial products. Don’t do the “hustle.”

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