“Our marketing team is telling me that you’re not generating the traffic that you could be to your home-based business,” Austin says aggressively.
There is a good reason, explains Leigh*: “I don’t know what I’m doing … I’m not very computer savvy.”
Over the course of the next forty minutes, Austin spins a tale of once being “in the same boat” as Leigh.
“Running a website myself? That’s like a foreign language to me. Well, it was… now I’m actually on top of my game, and I’m an internet guru. There’s a lot to the internet that people just don’t realize nowadays.”
After feeling her out a bit, the questions get more personal — these are the kinds of questions you would never expect a salesperson to ask you.
“Are you in debt?” “Could you ballpark that debt for me?” “And how is that split? Is it a 60-40 split between [credit] cards and car?”
Leigh, in her mid-50s, is a nurse who rents a house. She’s not greedy, she’s not looking to get rich — she just wants to be able to stash away some money for when she retires.
Incredibly, Austin says, “We’ve got a pilot program that we do every two years, we have been doing it since the beginning of the company’s start. We give twenty people five websites. And with these twenty people we gauge what’s been selling the best, because each person has these five websites — so that’s five products, there’s a hundred products out there that we can test.”
Austin asks Leigh to grab a pen and paper so he can give her a little lesson about affiliate marketing, which he calls “the best, first way, and actually the best way, to make money online.”
“I’m sorry. What, sir?” She sounds stunned.
“Affiliate marketing,” Austin repeats, “is actually the number one way to make money online right now.”
It’s clear he has her turned around. “OK. This is … affiliated marketing?”
Austin describes how the program is supposed to work — hell, he says he has a client generating $12,000 a month “from e-book sales alone.” And then, after Leigh expresses some confusion, he goes on to explain that e-book stands for “electronic book.”
“You should be bringing in at least $1,200 per week, every week … that’s the minimum that anyone within our coaching program is doing now.”
Leigh seems to relax. At one point they talk about her interest in flowers. Austin continues to pitch, but it’s obvious Leigh is still at sea when it comes to his descriptions of internet businesses.
Austin goes on to say that he is “cutting checks for at least $5,000 a week, for each client.” The implication being, of course, that soon she’ll be getting her own $5,000 checks.
This part sounds good, but he’s talking pretty fast and with all the terminology he uses — landing pages, proven success method, earn while you learn — Leigh’s obviously confused.
When asked if she has any questions, Leigh responds: “I don’t have any questions, because I don’t know what to ask you, you know. You’ll have to tell me what I’m doing here, and how I do it.”
“I’m trying to get a gauge. How long have you been trying to make money online?”
“Oh, I haven’t. Like I said, I joined on your site… and that’s been three months ago? And I just haven’t done a thing with it… I actually tried to get out of it and, I don’t know, I received your call and I thought, well, maybe I should at least talk with you, because I don’t know what I’m doing at all.”
“Have you even looked at the e-book that we sent you?”
“No, I don’t know how.”
She doesn’t know how to read a PDF, she doesn’t want to be an internet marketer, she doesn’t understand what Austin’s saying — but she needs something like this — and this makes her vulnerable.
Leigh asks how much all of this will cost.
“It’s not a thing of you paying us,” says Austin, reframing the question. “We want you to prove to us that you’re actually willing to participate and willing to learn, and you actually invest into your marketing.”
“Well, what is that going to cost me to invest?”
“That depends on your level, uh , let’s — we’re contracted with big names, such as Visa and Mastercard.”
He is implying some sort of endorsement by these two well-known and trusted companies, when in reality all this means is that he can accept payments from either major credit card.
“So it kinda depends on your level of investment,” he continues. “What we like to do here is OPM: Other People’s Money. Before you actually see a bill for your credit card, you’re on the way by paying that back before your 45 days is up on that credit card statement [sic] is actually coming to you. So we actually let our clients tell us what they can bring to the table and invest into their own market.”
OK, so again: “What kind of money are we talking about?”
“We’ve got three different platforms, Leigh, that we actually bring people in on. Now, I’m going to give you a breakdown, tell me what platform you might be able to come in on, and I’ll work with you to get you through this platform, or get you up to the next platform. Because what I can do is, as a senior principal here, I can go down to my financial department, and if you can bring ‘so much’ to the table I’ll tell them to invest the rest into you, because you sound like someone I want to work with…”
He rambles on in this way for a while, which is calculated to put Leigh further off-balance. Then he gets around to the cost of the program, which “depends on what I can get you approved for.”
In other words, the product costs whatever she can get her hands on.
In other words, he’s going to bleed her only credit card dry.
“Leigh,” he asks. “Do you work better with Visa or with Mastercard? Because what we’re going to do is try and get you approved on some type of level and see what we can, what level I can bring you in on. OK?”
This is always the point in the sales call where people start to freak out, when strangers start asking for credit card info. And Leigh is no different.
“Well, what I have is a Visa card,” she says, sounding wary.
“If you can cough up $5,000,” Austin explains, “it’s gonna be a return after a full year of one website, it will get you to that $70,000 that I had you give me your goals and dreams about. Because of our proven success method, we actually have to analyze each client that comes through at what level they bring in, so we can make sure that if you come in on the $5,000 level you will make this amount of money, which is the $70K a year.”
“Well, to tell you the honest truth, I cannot do $5,000. I don’t have any money laying around.”
Eventually, he talks her into a $500 investment, and when she agrees to that he tells her he’s going to “try to put you on that platform of at least $1,000.” He just talked her up to a grand without her realizing it: “Now, we have to bring you in on at least $1,000. That way, it’s a secure tool into your investment, and we invested more into you also. We went ahead and invested the $4,000 into your marketing.”
“Do I need to pay that back to you?”
“No. What I need you to do is prove to me that you’re actually gonna be a loyal [sic], a client, and willing to learn.”
After this, all Brent Austin needs is for Leigh to print out a form, sign it, and fax it to him. Then she will be well on her way to earning big money as an internet guru.
The recording winds up after ten more minutes, with Brent trying to teach Leigh how to use a printer.
*This name has been changed