Grow Your Business

Confessions of a CEO: The 8 types of people who will never buy your product

Some people are good at math.

Some people are good at directions.

My odd mutant power is different. After reading hundreds of thousands of emails from readers, I know after 2 sentences whether they’ll buy or not.

GL GL Post 17 3 201

If you’re a business owner wondering which customers to focus on, you’ll want to know who will buy and who won’t.

Today, I share that wisdom with you.

I spent years trying to placate people who asked for all kinds of freebies and exceptions…and they never bought.

I believed people when they said, “Your emails are too long. Can you get to the point??” and I engaged in 26 back-and-forth emails, answering every question…until they admitted they had no money and suddenly disappeared.

And along the way, I learned who the actual buyers are…and who will never buy.

As a business owner, your time is best spent on your very best customers. I’ll show you how to avoid the rest. (Click to Tweet)

You’re welcome.

People who miss deadlines

GL Email 11

What Alejandro is saying: “Sorry I missed the deadline, life got really busy! But I’m ready now, will you please let me in the course?”

What’s really going on: Like an innocent doe, I used to believe people’s reasons for missing deadlines: They were on a flight, they were with family, their house flooded. So I offered them a link to join again for 48 hours.

Not a single person joined. EVER!

It turned out it wasn’t circumstances or bad luck.

It was them.

If you think about going on a first date, people are on their best behavior. If they’re rude or late, that tells you a lot — especially since the first date is where they’re trying their hardest!

Same in business.

People who miss deadlines will also fall behind in courses, then ask for a refund and blame you. Trust me.

Did Alejandro buy: Nope.

People who ask too many questions

GL Email 21

What Daniela is saying: “How long does it take to make money? How much energy did they invest? How long does it take to get your first client? What percentage of students ended up making more than $10K from freelancing? Will it work when Mercury is in retrograde?”

What’s really going on: It’s totally understandable to ask questions about a product — especially a premium product.

(I understand this. I spent 2 hours studying YouTube video reviews before buying an iron.)

That’s why we provide hundreds of pages of sample material, case studies, and live webinars — to make sure everybody has the answers they need to make a decision.

After doing about 100 live webinars, I started noticing there were people who would ask question… after question… after question. And each question became increasingly esoteric and obscure. I finally realized what was going on:

The people who asked 1-2 questions were serious buyers. They had specific objections, and once I addressed it, they made a decision. Sample questions included:

  • “Does this course cover how to find a job in a new city? I ask because I’m planning to move in 3 months and want to be sure this will help me.” Easy answer. They bought.
  • “Does this course include how to set up an email autoresponder? And do you have sample scripts to use?” Another easy answer. They also bought.
  • “What if I’m not sure I have an idea? Do you have examples of students who found an idea and turned it into a business?” Yes, we can help with that. This prospect bought.

These are great questions.

Other prospects felt like the program wasn’t right for them, and I totally respect that. The point is, they made a choice and moved on.

On the other hand, there were people who asked 6… 8… 15 questions. These people were window shopping. They wanted the program, but for whatever reason (usually price), they were NEVER going to buy.

A dozen questions later, I’d finally tell them, “No, Sam, this won’t work for left-handed albinos with one foot,” and they’d be like “Aha! See, I knew this wasn’t right for me!”

They felt that they had “won” because they perceive buying something as getting “tricked.” These people are your worst customers — a lesson that took me a long time to learn.

Did Daniela buy? No. They never do.

People who still use a Hotmail address

GL Email 31

What Serge is saying: “Can you tell me where I can find more information on this course?” (The link is in the very email he is replying to. And it’s been sent to him multiple times.)

What’s really going on: This is a reactionary email from someone who sees the subject line, realizes he might be interested, and quickly shoots off an email asking for a personal response. Unfortunately, you can immediately tell that he hasn’t read the material that we’ve been sending — and if he joins, he will refund.

In other words, if Serge can’t click the link to read about the course details, how is he going to get through an intensive 8-week course?

This happens with lots of people. But especially Hotmail users.

Trust us on this one. It’s just one of those things. Avoid Hotmail addresses.

Number of people with Hotmail emails trying to buy each month? 41

People who ask for negative reviews

GL Email 81

What Robert is saying: “I want to see some unbiased reviews before I purchase. Can you please link me to your negative reviews?”

What’s really going on: Anyone asking for negative reviews will never buy.

Yes, it’s important to look for unbiased reviews (see reviews of our course on Google).

The very best people will look for all reviews — positive and negative — and make a decision.

But people who actively seek examples of failure are looking to validate reasons not to purchase. They will never buy. (Click to Tweet)

Let me get this straight. Before, people complained we didn’t have enough reviews. Now they’re complaining we don’t have enough negative reviews? What is happening here? Am I on planet Earth?

Here’s one fact that might comfort you: Of all the people who wrote to me asking for negative reviews (“I’ve looked online and I can’t find many. Can you share the negative reviews?”), not one has ever purchased.

Did Robert buy? No.

People who want a quick answer

GL Email 41

What Matt is saying: “Your sales page is too long! Just tell me — will I be able to make money online with your program?”

What’s really going on: Here we go again. Looking for a quick decision is fine if you’re choosing a pack of gum. But not a multi-thousand-dollar course that will help you launch a business. These are really challenging courses that take a lot of work.

If you have a premium offer, it should take serious consideration for someone to join. You want your prospects to seriously consider your product and all the alternatives. If you truly have the best product in the market, and you’re clear about why, your market will recognize it and join. And they’ll be more committed when they do.

And sometimes, prospects are right. Maybe your emails are too long. We always listen to see if we can improve.

But if you’re attracting high-quality customers and you hear a few prospects telling you that your material is too long, ignore them. They’re looking for shortcuts.

In short, if Matt isn’t interested in our “verbal diarrhea” on the sales page — which has led thousands of others to join and launch online businesses — then this course isn’t right for him.

Did Matt buy? Nope.

People who say “I’m disappointed”

GL Email 5 21

What DH is saying: “I expected you to be different, Ramit! Just another scam. I’m so disappointed in you.”

What’s really going on: OK, let me break this down.

I’ve only been disappointed 2 times in my life.

The first time I was 11. I wanted a Game Boy Color for Christmas and got a coloring book instead.

The second time was with my children. I don’t have any yet, but I can already tell you I’m disappointed with how they’re doing in school.

Listen, you can make a legitimate case that a product isn’t right for you, that the quality isn’t high enough, or that there are better competitors on the market. But why are you “disappointed” in a business?

Would you ever walk into J. Crew, look at a $97 t-shirt, and say, “I’m disappointed in you, J. Crew”? Of course not!

If a non-buyer tells you they’re disappointed, you know they have deeper, underlying emotions they need to resolve. Preferably with professional psychiatric help.

Numbers of readers I disappoint everyday: 32

People who are outraged at your price

GL Email 61

What Anna is saying: “You’re charging WHAT for your program? That’s ridiculous!”

What is really going on: I completely understand $2,000 is a lot of money. I remember nervously asking my parents for $800 to pay for an SAT prep course — that was an incredible amount of money for my family in those days.

That’s why we’ve always given away 98% of our material for free.

So that if you need help getting out of debt, we can help — for free.

Or if you want to earn more money, we can help — for free.

We even show you how to start your online business, totally free.

That way, when someone’s ready to take the next step, they have the means to purchase one of our premium programs.

Low quality customers will say your prices are outrageous. That’s fine — they were never going to buy anyway.

By the way, when I recommend these free resources to them, I never hear back. Ever. (I even check back with them a week later.)

High quality customers who can’t afford it today will use the free material… and come back when they’re ready to pay. Others are looking for freebies that they’ll never use.

Did Anna buy? No. Lol

People with different names in their email header and signature

GL Email 71

What Amy is saying: “I’d love to join your program but can’t afford it right now. Will you let me in?”

What’s really going on: In one of the oddest findings of human nature, if you use 2 different names in your email header and signature, you will never buy. This has been validated 100% of the time (n=250).

I actually don’t know why this is, but it’s a law of nature.

Did Amy buy? No

Neither has any person — ever — who has a different name in their email “From” name and their signature. Listen, I’m as confused as you are.

The key lesson:

As a business owner, it’s your job to be selective about who you accept into your programs. Customers who miss deadlines, don’t take your material seriously, or act rude will cost you down the line. You’re better off avoiding them altogether.

What’s one type of person we missed? Tell me in the comments one type of person you know will never buy from your business. Can’t wait to read your answers.

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There Are 87 Comments


I think we can include:

– The Know-It-All. These guys are those who claim they know how to do it and don’t need your help at all, and that you claiming you have a 2k magic bullet is outrageous. They might say that they learned everything they needed to learn from an uncle who already has a successful online business, or just about anything else. Of course, they don’t buy and they don’t ever do anything either, despite being in a priviledged position.

– The erudite/expert. These guys bash you for not having credentials and discredit everything you do on the basis that you don’t know anything and they do because they graduated from X University, they took courses with celebrities, blah, blah. They very seldom provide any sort of arguments, other than the “Magister dixit” and “ad-hominem” fallacies. They don’t buy ever and for some reason I don’t think they live up to their own expectations. This kind of people I’ve already had some problem with even though I still have not finished my first product!

I think you’ve covered the majority, although I agree with Max’s additions above. I actually have seen “negative reviews” of your work on some online forums. I read through some of them before I bought from you the first time (ZTL). All the negative comments were clearly from people who were complaining to complain and making excuses for why they aren’t happy rather than doing something about it. It was also clear from the comments they were making that they hadn’t taken the time to read through any of your material. Some people think the world is out to get them, and we can’t force them to help themselves. Fortunately there are plenty of people who ARE willing to invest in themselves!

These are great. I love the first one, about people who think they know it all. Ironically, the very best in the world continue to invest in themselves MORE as they become more successful.

Literally laughing OUT LOUD at this: “The second time was with my children. I don’t have any yet, but I can already tell you I’m disappointed with how they’re doing in school.”

(And the “law of nature” comment. DIED.)

Ok sorry back to the comment:

These have my experience as well, except in selling consulting and not online courses. The consistent non-buyers I’ve seen are:

– Wanting to know prices immediately. It doesn’t matter your budget, I’ve worked on 3-figure projects and 6-figure projects and when the first question is “What will this cost me?” you aren’t getting the business because they don’t value what you’re bringing.

– Incisive questions about my credentials or experinece. It’s a distraction from what they’re really saying which is “I don’t want to listen to your advice, I’m going to do what I want to do.”

(Similar to @Max’s “the know it all” (above))

– Anyone who wants to “pick my brain.” I set up a profile just for this. Highly recommend it as a way to fend off these people. They will never actually sign up.

This post is such a relief!! 😀 Love it.

You also have the
– You-Should-Do-Like-[insert whatever other brand in the market]. Well… Isn’t being different a good thing, so our offers, expertise and style can complement each other? It drives me slightly nuts.

In the language business, know-it-alls are hilarious when they send you emails in the language you teach where you need Google Translate to understand their message.

A subset of those who think the price is too high are people who try to bargain. They either ask you to discount your rates or want to pay you after they get results.

I have one – People who never buy from me / turned out to be my neediest client ever are always told by someone else that they SHOULD come to me. It’s not a 100% thing – I have had friends recommend my work and then gotten clients and we were both happy. But I know that when someone I know says ‘My friend totally needs you!’ (Resumes are my side line) that the person will not contact me. It’s better when the person who needs a resume is already looking for help – then recommendations work.

In B2B sales, where the person paying and the person using the product or service are often different, and the person paying and responsible for profit (eg. CEO) is on board, but the line manager / department head isn’t (because it may change how they do things or make things slightly harder for them, or their performance more transparent), in a “tail wagging the dog” company, where the manager has so much invisible influence that they can bully the CEO into them not going ahead, such as by threatening to resign or slow-balling the buying process, (or CEO constantly expresses fears about staff reactions, rather than doing what’s best for their business in the long run), they will never buy. Or if they do, manager will kick up such a storm that they will cancel during early implementation phase, and never succeed with the initiative, and the CEO will lack leadership, confidence and let it happen.

Also in B2B, selling to companies who are positioned very differently in the market from you. People who sell on price do not buy on value. So if someone runs a super low margin, price sensitive business, low cost business, if you’re positioned in the premium end of your market, even if you’re “selling dollars at a discount” and buying your product saves them heaps of money in the long run, or dramatically increases their revenue, they will not buy from you.

Danielle Mayber

This article is great. It’s a helpful reminder not to get derailed (whether it’s by people who are disappointed, outraged, or have Hotmail addresses) and stay focused on your ideal clients.

Ramit, well articulate piece you have here…
Revealing and quite amusing as I have experienced such.

There are prospects who fall under some categories I have identified in over 30 years in business.

1) The lazy and the timid

Those who want to be spoonfed…simply looking for that magic-pill either from an online course or even offline seminar.

Seriously, this is akin to those who can’t initiate the dating stuff unless held by the hand to approach a woman. The outcome you can’t predict.

They are not sure until –like someone said above– a friend needs to convince a friend (a prospective buyer) before the product is bought. Nothing is wrong in that.

Ramit, They ask these questions becuase they are trying to dig further for an insight into your course content.

They want to know if the materials – while they recline on their sofa or rooted in their confort zone — would sing a lullaby to them, carry their limbs on their behalf and kick start their mind /brain to apply the content to get the results.

*Courses and educational materials are tools to be put to use–to meet set objectives.

But they are looking for the easy way out. There is no absolute course or guide that would leave an individual out from putting to practice all he or she has learnt from the material.

2) The Opportunists

Ah ha! You also have those trolling around the web and in the real life of brick and mortar (neigbbourhood).

They are looking for the cheapest solutions to their real and nagging problem.
Yet they don’t want to pay, even the least not to talk of premium.
They dont minding the fact that there is no free lunch anywhere.

Creators of ideas that solve problems are meant to be paid.
They see providers of goods and services as beggars because of their quests for patronage.

3) The Budding Competitor

There are those who ask these questions; to pick your brain because they are planning similar ventures.

Now if you have alot of visitors or you are located in a public space to sell –they do come around espcially if you are appear to be successful.

In my country Nigeria, I remember in one of my past businesses, once the facade is refreshed with a new paint; customers would surge, enquires would increase but alas a month down the line, the increase in sales wouldn’t be proportional to the increase in foot traffic. I am sure different variations would apply in other places.

Managing prospects is part of the nurturing exercise expected of any business found in a public space, and that can’t be avoided.

As we will all continue to do the sieving, clients are expected to do same of any business. That is the reality — the game of the two sides of the coin in exchange of values.

Margo: I actually just deleted my Clarity profile BECAUSE the only people I get on there are time wasters, price shoppers, and brain pickers. Also, those people are consistently making bad business decisions and are in no place to hire an expert anyway.

At first, I thought jacking my rates would help, but I saw little to no improvement (though fewer people called me, which was a win).

Then I realized the A+ clients (the ones who were always ready to buy and trusted my expertise) ALWAYS come to me through quiet referrals from my network. Once I had that epiphany, it became obvious where I wanted to spend my time.

Does your data scientist have conference talks on slideshare or youtube?
That last one is a seemingly random insight, what led her/him to run that query?

1) The ones who want have it all for free, not by blatantly asking to be a “charity case” but by milking information from you in endless emails, asking for new “tips” every time. “Just tell me one thing, what do I need to do if….blah blah” repeated as many times as one has patience to reply.
2) Relatives

Robin Van Ausdall

Anyone who says “yeah, but…” 3 times in a conversation are not my customers. People who are more interested in making excuses than finding solutions are not ready to benefit from my services.

1) The Hurt Puppy Person. This person’s been burned before and wants you to prove yourself to them before they’ll consider buying from you, but there’s literally nothing you could do to change their mind. They’ll make crazy demands with no intention of ever buying. Note: this person shows up often in dating too.

2) The Person Looking to Game the System. I don’t understand these people, but sometimes I meet folks who want to feel like they’re getting a steal on something. They want special treatment, a bonus, a discount, whatever, then get offended when you refuse. This can happen in service relationships too, even when the person demands something that’ll hurt them. (“We don’t need to sign a contract.” WTF?? A contract protects you too, dude.) This person doesn’t actually want a solution to their problems. They’re like a kleptomaniac who wants to feel like they won something.

3) Bad Fit People. These customers are desperate for someone to save them from their bad decisions. Interestingly, these people haven’t set themselves up to be your ideal customer. They have no intention on following through with your product or advice, they just want a magic bullet for their problems. You see this a lot with clients who want to hire a copywriter to save their business, not understanding that they have no system in place, no leads, and shitty product development. You can spot these people because they can’t explain their problem in a specific way, and they never take responsibility for why their problem exists in the first place.

Hard lessons learned: focus on the people who are hungry and eager to buy. You can’t win everyone over and you shouldn’t try.

I’ve got one.

The people who troll through your website purely for entertainment value.

They’ll probably never buy either. ?

rich Taylor

I guess I am the exception that proves the rule. Bought ZTL and FF through my hotmail address that has a different name in my “from” vs. my real name. In all fairness though, it is the only thing I use that address for. No idea why. I am sure there is some psychological reason. 😉

BRandon wilkins

Ramit, I’m a little miffed about the Hotmail comment! LOL (just kidding). I’ve bought ZTL, E1K and Success Triggers. I’ve been using this Hotmail account for almost 20 years. For me, I’ve never given much thought to changing it because it’s what all of my contacts use to reach me and to have to start giving out a new address and transfer information over and all of that is just more hassle than I want to deal with. I guess at the point where I feel it’s holding me back or costing me time/money, I’ll change it. But right now, it works well for me.

People who know you in your pre-business life generally won’t take you seriously as a businessperson and will never buy from you. They may think you’re a nice person, because they’ve known you before, but — “Really? You put out that product for sale too? That’s cool; I’ll be sure to check it out. Congratulations” = no sale

They may request your product for free, because, “Come on, we’re friends,” and that’s about it.

Just love you to pieces, Ramit. Thank you for everything. This is such a HUGE area of the business that entrepreneurs need to understand and accept …instead of wasting their precious time and energy in spinning their wheels. You hit it right on the head. P.S. Love the photo of you in the cape… (!!!). Thank you for brightening up a rainy day here in Boston. You are the best.

The Brain-Pickers!

If I ever get an email that begins with words something like, “well, your course looks great, and I may buy, but first let me pick your brain.”

Essentially this means… “I see that you have value to offer and I will try my best to get as much as I can for nothing. And by the way, I never buy anything, I just pick brains.” 😉

rich Taylor

Uh oh…trying to make me self-reflect. Okay, I will bite. I guess I have always compartmentalized IWT. It’s not really integrated with my current business. It’s always been a “when I get around to it” kind of thing. I know it’s important and good information, but I am running a successful business that has historically sucked up all of my time. “One day” I will “get to it” to go to the next level. I’m currently in the middle of a slow and tedious transition of my business to others doing the work, with some success – working less hours on it than I used to by hiring good people and concentrating on bringing in more revenue to pay for them and increase my income. Trying to make it more self-sustaining is a challenge. Also have toyed (yes I understand the psychological ramifications of me using that word) with productizing the business but it’s always been like drinking from a firehose with what I am doing now. Lots of excuses…I think when I change my email address it will be when I am fully engaged.

And yes, I see what you did there. And I hate you. Three words – “tell us more.” This is why you are the master and I am the student. Sigh

humm. People that unsubscribe from my list? Those one never made purchase!

Ashley Cohen

One type that never pays for services from me: the ones that start arguing/negotiating about small details immediately.

She calls for an appointment. The next one I have is Tuesday at 10:AM. Oh, no, that is not suitable. How about Thursday at 7:PM? Or Friday at 5:PM? Perhaps Sunday morning?

Where to park? There are spaces right in front of the building. Oh, but she hates to leave her car exposed to the elements. Well, there is a covered parking garage 1/2 block from the office. Yes, but the garage is probably expensive, isn’t it? And then she would have to walk from there to the office building. Is there someone who could park it for her if she just drives up in front of the building? [I’m not a trendy downtown restaurant! No, I don’t have a valet!]

What if the evaluation goes on a long while, and she gets hungry? We can stop for a break. There are many cafes within a block of the office. Oh, she would prefer not to have to leave. That’s fine—bring whatever you would like for a lunch, and you can eat at the office. Oh, she would probably pack her lunch and then forget it.

And while she did read that she needed to pay X amount at the first appointment, it will be fine not to pay for a few weeks, until her tax refund arrives, yes? No?? Well, you could make an exception for me.

This particular lady (representing many others just like her) did . . . can you possibly guess? . . . NOT ever make and keep an appointment!

(I still can’t believe this myself.) My nightmare-but-real customer was a lady who wanted some graphic designs done, which I do on the side. I only dealt with her because my fiancee talked me into it, but I had reservations about it anyway, and even threatened to quit before the project was finished. My number ONE reservation was that the lady would only communicate with me through my fiancee, who is her niece by marriage.

Long story short, I made about TEN sample designs for the lady and only got paid for one @ $35. That number could have been three if the lady had communicated with me directly. My takeaway from this is, as I alluded to earlier, I will DEFINITELY stick to my guns from now on.

By the way, Ramit, this is a great and timely column for me. I am complying with your standards and ONLY buying one of your courses when I get my credit card debt paid down. Thank you for all you do.

I keep hearing that from lots of trainers, Danielle. Not everybody CAN be a customer to every businessperson. In a world of 7 billion, that seems like common sense…

The Price Shoppers: The people who email me asking “Why don’t you list your prices on the website? On the investment page, it says ‘prices starting at…’ but it doesn’t tell me EXACTLY what your prices are for wedding photography packages.”

Me: “Every session is customized and personally tailored to fit the needs of my client, so I can tell you that my prices start at $1795 and the average client spends about $3200. If you are interested, I’d be more than happy to sit down with you over a cup of coffee (my treat!) and discuss what you’re looking for from your wedding photographer, and then I can give you a quote that fits with your needs and your budget. Would Thursday evening at 6PM at Paul’s Coffee and Tea work for you?”

Price Shopper NEVER emails me back, because they’re not interested in knowing more about my work and investing in it; they just want the cheapest photographer.

I also get a variation on the Price Shopper:

“I can’t find the prices on your website. Can you tell me what your prices are? Also, I only want digital negatives because I really just want wedding photographs for my [Social Media Platform] page. Since I don’t want an album, can you give me a discount?”

I have a long email that I send back which talks about the value of wedding photography, how the wedding album is your first family heirloom, etc. As with the other Price Shopper, they never write back.

Clients who ask for a free consultation. The more rigidly I stick to my consultation cost, the better my business performs. Fabulous material Remit, funny and insightful

People who bash the 5 other professionals they’ve seen for this problem before you. In my world we all it “doctor shopping”. They might buy but boy will you regret it.

Darin Rolfe

I find that people that have a ring back tone never buy. It’s impossible to know if they do or not through email, but maybe when someone sends you an email with questions the first question you can ask them could be “Do you have a ring back tone?”. If they respond yes, then you could answer, “I’m sorry, I can’t help you”, or “I’m sorry, this program isn’t for you.” This would save a lot of time.

The ones who ask the dumbest questions. “What will the tides be like then?” for a cruise that’s happening a year from now. I didn’t go into finding out what was behind why they would ask that question because I just could.not. IT’S A BOAT. Made to be in low and high tides. JFC why do you even caaaare?!

Did they buy? Nope.

I have found that if a prospect goes cold/ghosts for roughly the same length of time since they contacted me with questions then there is 0% chance of a sale. Example: John contacts me on day 1 with a question. We have 2-3 back and forth over days 1 and 2. If I hear nothing by day 4 the prospect will not convert.

Any new client who leads with a request for a freebie or a discount is generally going to be a difficult client.

Don’t know why, but don’t really need to — it just always seems to work out that way.

The one who commits to an appointment and then starts asking detailed questions. That person will not show up. It never fails.

how about people who are only interested in discounts i.e cheapest price?

I’ve got to agree with the credentials comment. If you don’t have certifications from various standards groups and sundry organizations, they dismiss your work out of hand. They’re looking to disqualify your work, not to determine how good it is.

As for me, I have a history of not following through on projects. Until I figure out how to fix that mental problem i’ll continue to salivate at courses but not buy.

Gordana Dragicevic

The people who tell you the course/workshop you are teaching is really interesting, but should happen at a different place and at different time, have different length, different price and different content.
I have a set reply inviting them to organize a tailor-made workshop they can then attend for free and just invite me to teach, stating that I’m even prepared to split the money with them. They never reply.

Ramit, the email images aren’t showing up on my iPhone. I’m on Chrome.

This is an amazing blog post. I reference this each time I’m making a sale haha.

I was trying to show this to one of my friends but the images didn’t show up on my phone. Broke my heart.

Totally get it and couldn’t agree more with the concept of not wasting your time with time-wasters. And, despite the fact that I am an E1K student, I am feeling somewhat triggered by this post. While I haven’t fully worked through what’s lurking under there, I think I’m getting a message of “If you’re not a paying client there is something wrong with you, and the only way to fix whatever’s wrong with you is to buy stuff.” Would be happy to be set straight if I’m way off the mark.

ps. @Rich, you’re not alone. I use multiple names that don’t always match in the tech sphere.

Carriers & Spies & the Conga Line. Currently, I have a bricks and mortar retail business, but the types you listed hold true in that situation. In my business, I would add the following: The Carriers, The Spies, and the Conga Line. The Carriers are people who come into my store holding a cup of coffee, a baby, or a small dog. Without fail they do not buy. However, people who carry shopping bags from other stores are often lucrative. The Spies (and this one holds true for consulting work as well) are people who are competitors, or agents of competitors, who are scoping out my product lines and pricing. The Conga Line is a group of people, usually a multi-generational family group, who enter the store, move through to the back in a line, at a shuffling pace, turn around, never stop, and then exit the store in under a minute.

Radek Hecl

Wow, this is great post!!!
Other than reading I actually thought whether I have ever behaved like some these examples. And answer is YES, absolutely. For example too many questions, trying to get expensive product for free and so on. Now hopefully I am not doing these anymore. Well, other people must say…

The Brain-Pickers

It goes something like this, “Your course looks interesting and I might buy it, but first let me pick your brain.” Of course, what they are thinking is that they want to get as much free information from you as possible before buying. However, it doesn’t matter how much time you give them or how many freebies you offer them, they never buy. They just move on to pick someone else’s brain.

God this post struck a chord with me!

My #1 has got to be the people who compare my products with a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PRODUCT with a lower price and then ask “Why does this cost so much?” It’s like trying to buy a pomegranate for the price of an apple and justifying their reasoning by saying that they are both fruit.

These goobers never buy. I am convinced their sole purpose in life is to annoy others…

Love this post. Was just talking about these customers yesterday –

#1 The people who LOVE my one-of-a-kind product, but want me to make another one 2 inches wider. Or blue-er.

#2 The people who want to know if I will ship a cheaper way.

Neither group ever buys.

It’s not about whether or not people buy*, it’s about people who are basically looking for excuses not to buy, but don’t seem to know it themselves. Or people who may rarely buy, but it would be a bad fit and they wouldn’t get the value from the course, because they are already blocking their own progress mentally or in some other way.

* It’s only about getting the right people to buy, those who will be successful with the course and benefit from it.

MIchael Keller

Hahahahah, I love these. Funny, valuable, and inspiring yet again!

Let me add:

-The Nitpicker: “Hmmmm but I see that you scored an X/X on the test.” By the way, my test score was way above average, and it was my lowest score- all the rest are top 20 or top 10 percent. This is on Upwork. These clients never work with me nonetheless anyone probably. I look back at their job and it still shows that no one has been hired. These people will nit-pick everything you do or have done. “Oh, you’ve only made $597 in your last project? Was it REALLY a serious project?” They have a ridiculous sense of self-worth and expect a perfect person to come from the clouds quelling their every thirst. At first, I’d answer their questions all day long. Now, when it comes to client acquisition, I can very quickly determine by their first appearance whether or not the CLIENT is serious about hiring me (the “freelancer”).

-The Call-Avoider: Okay, sorry Ramit, but this one applies to freelancing on Upwork. This guy, like the nitpicker, just wants to send cute little freaking messages allllllll dayyyyyyyyy longgggggg but never just calls. They usually ARE the nitpicker. I’d say this one and the above are actually the same but they deserve two derogatory names. The nit-picker usually keeps sending you picky little messages, hiding behind their screen, never actually setting up a call.

Those two apply to Upwork by the way. Just thought I would chime-in on my digital freelancing experience xD.

Let’s also add the Indirect Guy. “Well, um, [excuse here], so we can’t exactly do this.” Me: Okay let’s do that then. “Yeah, about that, [excuse #75272457245724573457 here].” The Indirect Guy will never outwardly reject you, always leaving you hanging. You can figure out who is the Indirect Guy by asking direct questions in the call/chat and testing their response. I can’t really think of any examples, but they usually answer your question with another question, answer with a double negative, OR say something completely irrelevant.

For example, this morning tried to recruit me on a “rare once in a lifetime business opportunity.” After a couple words, my threat detectors went off immediately. After probing, I determined this was a pyramid scheme- but a legal one, an “MLM.” I had to ask, several times, and he would avoid the answer. These people are confusing and in a call where you can’t scroll up on the chat you can truly get lost and accidentally do business with them (if you are new to intense negotiations and social dynamics). They often speak a lot too, to cover up for their lack of simplicity and directness. Instead of answering a simple question, they give you a long explanation.

Just a few ideas above in regards to my business, where I need to acquire clients. I can determine a client’s fit pretty quickly, which is awesome, because my client acquisition time is super fast now! I mean, like, 2 hours fast. I don’t even have it automated or a website haha, and my services are pricy. I just now have super-human detection skills and can spot BS. As I’m sure you don’t respond to E-mails like that now, I equivalently sometimes will just hang-up mid conversation. No goodbyes or anything. I don’t care. I don’t wanna spend more than 3 hours to get a new client lol, and there’s no point in sugar-coating the bad clients and more importantly people I will never see again!

The people who mistakenly believe that cost= value. All goods or services have a cost. All learning experiences have a cost. So what is the value I’m getting for what I’m paying? Whether you pay $1 or $1,000 is immaterial; if someone can’t see value in what they’re getting, they won’t buy.

The others are those who listen to “they.” Who are “they?” And what makes “they” so powerful? I ask my mother this a lot because “they” have dominated her life. Or, if it’s not “they” it’s the unconfident voice in their own head. It can’t be done becuase if it could be done, everyone would be doing it.

p.s. Count me among the 1% with a hotmail account who saw value in ZTL and DJ and bought in to both.

So spot on. And I’ll add in a few…

The person who tells you they absolutely are SO ready to start working with you (as in yesterday) and email you wondering when can they start (preferably yesterday), write you outside of business hours in an attempt to “be let in” or jump the line, and essentially pummel you with their enthusiasm and generally are in a BIG rush to start working with you.

The greater truth, in my opinion, is they are experiencing a spark of clarity and do not trust themselves to follow through and NEED you to let them into your business when they have the enthusiasm on high, before it goes flat. It does go, because enthusiasm is not a reliable source of decision making.

The person who tells you they are your dream come true, are a perfect fit and ooh and ahh on the phone with all the insights they’re getting from your first conversation, they tell you they need your services so badly, they tell you they’re doing your program absolutely. This is a tricky one, as it feels like a “done deal” and “a perfect fit.” It almost feels like they are acting like a new best friend. There is a “playfulness” to them. (I dare say, it’s a lack of seriousness and they deep down know this and therefore compensate it with being genial.) Then they disappear. Always. They “get sick”, “have to talk to their husband” and generally don’t want to face the fact that they are willing and ready to do the work, yet they are not able to invest. For financial reasons or emotional ones. The distinction is the ones that ARE a perfect fit are a bit more stoic in their investment in working with you. They may say similar things but there is a bit more gravitas to the conversation. As if they fully respect what they’re about to take on.

Great post Ramit!

Annette Louwen

Thanks Ramit! I found your article really informative and helpful. I must admit I was checking your list against myself to see what kind of customer I am!!! Fortunately… for me…. I wasn’t any of them. Phew! But I agree, there is no point in having a ‘poor’ customer because they’re the ones who either want you to do everything for them or complain no matter what.

The people who don’t have enough respect for themselves to capitalise the first letters of their names. If you present your entire name in lowercase letters, it just makes you look lazy and unprofessional and not like someone I want to do business with.

Ramit this is so “spot on”…and pretty damn funny as well.

I actually do have a hotmail account but I never use it for business…ever!

I have a practice (rather than an online business) that helps businesses deliver their projects more efficiently and effectively. I have my “big 3” that almost invariably won’t buy but will happily waste your time going nowhere. They lead with the following “objection “:

1. “What you are describing is just project management 101.” A similar version is “what you are describing is just common sense”. What’s really going on is they are trying to justify holding on to what they have always done.
2. “What you are describing is what we already do.” Usually when I explore this you find it is what ‘they normally do’ but for various reasons they’re not doing it on this project. Digging a bit further you find no evidence to suggest it’s not what they normally do at all. What’s really going on is they don’t really want to make effort it would take to change…happy to put in the effort trying to recover from a failed project.
3. “What you’re saying makes a lot of sense, but it won’t work here because of [fill in the reason – the client, the contract, the type of work, the organisations requirements,etc].” What’s really going on is they don’t want to take responsibility for there own results; it’s much easier to lay the blame elsewhere.

To that list I have recently added “we’d like to see a demo of the software (enabling system)”. If they are caught up in how the software works they’re not focused on the value of the overarching solution.

I have experienced people who are referred to me but never follow up!!
I’m an Interior Design Consultant and people will request your service, want you to chase after them! Through referrals of a satisfied customer, I have met many people who truly need help with making their home, office or workspace functional and aesthetically pleasing but they want you to chase and be available to their needs!
They want you to present all of this material that you work very hard at pulling together and presenting on a specially designed board then never pay for your service.
I have learned to refer them away from me because they will waste your time and energy and will never buy!

YES. People who knew me from my nerdy high school days seem to think that they’re entitled to freebies. Pretty sure they wouldn’t deliver my baby or give me a new Ford for free. See also: church and fellow congregants.

The person whose first question is “What do you charge?” I work in a private practice counseling setting and when they care more about your rates than getting the help they need or your clinical skills/reputation, then they aren’t going to schedule. Or they’ll schedule and no-show which is even worse.

Same in the restaurant business. One can see what kind of person the customer is by how they treat the service providers.

Totally agree. Along with the negotiation, it’s promises like “if you make this exception for me, I’ll be your best customer!” Not a chance.

This was great to read. My favourite was “People who want a quick answer.” I personally read the entirety of each landing page for all of Ramit’s courses that I’m interested in, plus I do it for sites that I respect. Reading 21,000 words is a great way to procrastinate, however the best thing is just reading what Ramit wrote. Apart from the great humour added in, it’s the “Is this course right for me?” and “This course is not for you if…” sections that I really focus on. I would buy a product purely based on those sections if that was the entire landing page.

Here is an email I received yesterday from one of my subscribers:

“Charles – wondering, is there any reason you keep emailing links to your website instead of sending the articles out via email? I realized I’m archiving nearly every single one instead of clicking through because I have no interest in taking that one extra step. And you’re the only person doing this method out of the newsletters I’m subscribed to!”

Guy is too lazy to click a link. How come he will read my 3,500-word long article? No way.

I replied by copy/pasting the full article in email (still looks good). Highly doubt I’ll get a reply from him.

I am in the health industry and the people that call my clinic and their immediate first question is “do you take insurance?” When we say no, they immediately hang up and never buy.

Or the people that have had a problem for years and then call and say it is an emergency and my schedule is full and can’t get them in until a few days later never buy. They act like I am supposed to cater to their emergency by their lack of planning.

ha! I just posted something about this. Or, do you take insurance, never buy. Major problem in the health industry.

Suz Johnson

Your picture in the red cape made me smile! Thanks for a great email and insight, as well as more insight in many of the comments. So appreciated and made me laugh too, as I saw myself is some scenarios, as well as my customers or lack of no new customer because they never became one! In one of my businesses in the wholesale manufacturing world, we sell framing mats, backing boards and clearbags to professional artists and photographers and I continually hear the DIY excuse. They insist they or their retired father-in-law can hand make my product better than my company, even though we make it perfectly, quickly, cost effectively and have been doing it for 35 years. It boils down to value, if the new prospect sees value. Some will never see it and pick apart your product or service until the cows comes home. Goodbye. Onto other pastures.

Love your article! don’t hav a huge business but I’ve encountered some of those people and lathough my gut feeling is “stay away” my “I want more clients” feeling is gettingme into unecessary conversation.
One more is the “I have tried everything and nothing worked” person. It’s the person that will rant about the failre of all other seminars, courses, coaches and so on and will try to see if you are the ONE who can save them. The problem is that they don’t want to be saved. They just want to be pitted.

Damn….I’m with Brandon. I used my hotmail account to buy E1K & Dream Job. What’s with the people who have hotmail accounts? I didn’t use a fake name…just my initials. Does that mean anything? I can’t believe I got lumped in with a bunch of tire kickers and negative nellies. 🙁

People who have signed up for every single one of your lead magnets but never bought any of your products never will.

And they do use the word disappointed. (You’re hilarious. But it’s true!)

People who talk about themselves endlessly. Like about how sad life is ,divorce, kids,single income,court issues….all you can do is nod in pity.The point of your discussion is lost long back.

Ramit, fascinating insights as usual!
From my side i would dissect anyone, who ask me about the refund,
when this point is always clearly exposed: <>

BUT because the success is too scary as it requires to go out of one’s
comfort zone, these gals & guys will “eggshell” themselves to play it “safe”.

Those are just a bunch of essentially toxic non-curable folks indeed.

Peace out!

In my experience, not only are people who demand exceptions NOT your best customer, but they’ll turn into the very worst. I made exceptions early in my business until I realized that entitlement was the #1 red flag for nightmare customers.

Awesome article. I was coaching a really nice young freelancer the other day, helping him create packages for his services. He asked how to deal with the potential client who says they can’t afford his prices / package. He felt guilty and wanted to help these kinds of clients by lowering his prices. I told him to innocently ask his potential clients three questions in a social manner:

1. What kind of phone do they have? (typical answer: The latest $800 iphone)
2. When was your last vacation and when did you go? (Costa Rica – a yoga retreat costing $3k)
3. What kind of car do you drive (A Mercedes – a client in Dubai complaining about his prices)

The question is not whether they can afford your services / package but whether they CHOOSE to value your services or product highly enough to buy it. If they question prices or claim they can’t afford it, send them to your free material. Assume they can afford it, but choose not to because they do not value what you have to offer highly enough to invest in what you have to offer.

I enjoyed watching this young man beam and his slumped shoulders lift when the pricing/discount discussion allowed him to throw off the shackles of guilt and wishful do-good-ism. He literally bounced off his chair with excitement at the end of our talk. I love my work.

Anyone who writes a ridiculously long one sentence email that’s a random stream of thoughts / questions about the course, their life, and why they’re stuck, will never buy.

They look like this:

listen i really need your course you see the thing is that I just don’t know what to do with myself right now I know I need to improve and all my friends and family keep telling me I have this awesome potential I just need to figure out how to use it but I’m not sure if this is the right path to go because I tried this other system and it didn’t work for me but I’ve watched some of your free material before and I know how good your stuff is so I think I should probably take the jump and enroll and I know the deadline is close so I need to make a decision Heidi what do you think can I do this should I enroll?

I may have a plausible answer for why people never buy when their name and email header don’t match. They probably start out by wanting to “test the waters”. So, they give one of their Yahoo/Hotmail/Google emails, not their main email yet. This saves them in case an inquiry just doesn’t work out. If they do like the material, they probably sign up, but from their main email account. But, I understand the red flag as I’ve seen it in my business with our inbound marketing.

Omygod the hotmail thing! Still laughing about that one! I say this all the time, but I automatically judge people with hotmail accounts … now it’s backed up by research! 😀 But the name thing made me wonder a bit. I gave up on people pronouncing my name correctly a few years ago, so I’ve been going by “Nammy” professionally and Namrata in my personal life. I wish everyone would just learn to say Namrata correctly, but that would have to coincide with pigs flying (delightful thought on both counts), so now I just have to think extra hard about what to address myself as to whom. The struggle continues … sigh. I wonder what I addressed myself as in previous emails to you, though. Hmmm … must go check.

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