Can You Handle the Truth?

Recently I had a client email me to tell me he was electing not to join my elite Sales Training and Marketing Mastermind Group. This is a very poor decision on his part and I told him so.

Below is my response. Once you’ve read my response please post any relevant comments……

Dear Lost One, (obviously not his real name)

I am sorry you have chosen not to invest and improve your sales and marketing skills by becoming one of the elite.

It is not my desire to beat up on you but to help you by taking my time to respond to you and give you some things to think about that no one else ever has.

In the spirit of trying to help you and shake you out of the mental stupor, I must be honest and confront what I think is a poor decision on your part. So please take the following comments in that vein.

My guess is that your decision to not join our elite Sales Training Mastermind group is a commitment issue, not a money issue. AND the rationale you give about not joining because “you can’t afford it” is simply an unconscious knee-jerk excuse masquerading as a true lack of commitment to generate a substantial increase in your income. If you lack the desire to make more money or belief that you deserve to make more money then you are making the right decision not to join this high-powered group of top performers.


If you are using money as an excuse not to join this group you need us more than you can possibly realize because the results you are getting or not getting are the outward manifestation of your current selling skills, habits, and beliefs and if you do not DRAMATICALLY change these the results and external circumstances – namely your income – will not change.

When I started my business 13 years ago I owed $40,000 in credit cards and was dead broke. So broke that at age 45 I had to borrow $10,000 from my Mother to pay my bills. I was frankly scared shitless but I didn’t let that get in the way of pursuing my dreams and goals.

If you are not willing to beg, borrow or steal the money you need to grow your sales and marketing skills then you need to look in the mirror and be honest with yourself and admit that you don’t have the drive, desire, or commitment to do whatever it takes to join the ranks of the financially successful and you deserve to be broke.

Money is never the reason. It is only an excuse for lack of commitment or belief. Mostly lack of belief in one’s self.

You also need to realize that your decision to join our group or not join will have no impact on my income or lifestyle but will most likely affect YOUR entire future and the quality of life you have going forward.

If this email pisses you off – which was not my intent – it is because I have hit home and struck a nerve. My job is to be ruthlessly honest with people who come into my life even if it does piss them off. Some people can handle the truth and some can’t. Your only hope to escape a life of mediocrity is to go deep inside and be truthful and honest with yourself. You may fool people around you with your excuses but you can’t fool yourself.


Rick Zemen

Good Afternoon Steve,

I read your thoughts on making a decision about whether to join or not join your new Elite group with interest and curiosity.

I run my own little company, and my background (in my case, engineering education and midwestern upbringing) creates an instinctive resistance to the term ‘sales’ – yet without sales, my business is really more of a hobby, right?

So behind your tough talk is an implied source, a basis for the strength of your message, one which I happen to share with you, and for similar reasons – you believe in your product. I have developed my business by refining what works into a powerful tool, one that is unique and largely unknown by those who would benefit from it (other business ‘owners’ whether their own small business or the part of a larger business they choose to ‘own’).

So if I hear of someone struggling with, and largely failing at, the process I understand very well, I know they need my help and that it would be transformational for them – making a difficult / head-banging / painful process into a productive, fun one. When they agree my cost is the lowest they can find to solve their problem, but choose not to pay it and move forward, I know what that means for them.


That is sad to me, because I have so often seen the outcome of the process I have developed over time and now understand well – happiness and success. If I get to the point of understanding what someone needs, I have invested in their outcome myself, I care – so their decision to interrupt the solution path we are on and turn back to their dark hole is hard to watch.

I just move on to another client to help, but I know they will lay awake wishing, frustrated with non-progress and blocked. Darn, I hate that for them.

So I understand well the basis for your tough message, I think you want to tell them – the key that opens the door and releases you from the dark closet you are in is yours for the taking, just choose it!

Leave the mediocre outcomes behind and step up! It’s right in front of you!

At least that’s what it looks like to me, Steve, much of what you said sounds like what I have said in my head to folks who choose to stay mired and stuck.

Thanks for articulating a powerful message, it was a pleasure seeing it.

Best Regards,

Rick Zemen
Managing Director


Lessons to be extracted from this letter:
1. In writing this response, you have positioned yourself as a solver of problems, and by doing so put yourself squarely in the driver’s seat in this relationship.
2. Without having seen the original correspondence, I assume you were able to uncover his pain points by reading between the lines of his response, which is the same as good listening skills.
3. You provided a parallel personal circumstance for Lost One to relate to, making you appear more human-like (hahaha)
4. You provided a “freebie” piece of advice, making a subconsciuos IOU with the statement “Money is never the reason. It is only an ….”
5. You have worked toward making every line in the letter move L.O. toward your desired outcome with no irrelevent fluff.
6. Every person who reads your response is now looking in the mirror and asking themselves if these comments apply to them. You may not get this prospect, but chances are you will get a good number of the people who read your response.

Steve Clark

Please leave your comment and the lessons you learned from this post. Hint – there are several lessons that if you apply them will skyrocket your income into the strastosphere.

Nelson Muller

The biggest lesson I took is that you have to take a look at your current results and, if they aren’t what you want, you have to change what you are doing.

Also, without a desire to improve, you won’t get far. It’s the fuel that pushes you to improve.

John Butler

The brutal truth is necessary right now … agree with you 100% … keep doing it
John Butler

Steve Clark


You are very astute and right on the money with your observations.

Steve Clark

Billy Jenkins

Steve; 3 Observations of Lost One
1.Fear of Change
2.Fear of being held accountable
3.Fear of Commitment to self improvement and responsibility

tim Handley

Interesting that you only are soliciting feedback if we ‘learned’ something from your response. Those that are truly great would also welcome dissent, mindful that nobody short of a deity knows all.

What I learned is even those that represent themselves as experts fall victim to childishly lashing out at prospects that reject them. Professionals know that “some will, some won’t, so what” and let the rejection go and make the next call rather than spending valuable sales time and energy howling at the moon about the previous rejection.

And that you, the expert, would stumble upon the most basic of sales principles adds credibility to the prospect that would pass on your “expertise”.

Be positive bro.

Steve Clark


Thanks for your comment. The fact that I allow it to be posted speaks of my willingness to allow dissent. You and everyone else are entitled to your opinion, but as Romney said to Obama, “you are not entitled to your facts”

FACT: a common characteristic of the highly successful in sales is the willingness to invest in their own personal growth and development. The failures and the mediocre are not.

As far as being positive, I prefer to be real and deal with the harsh reality that most people in life and in sales are miserable financial failures and are such because they lack ambition to do what it takes to succeed.

Thomas Edwards

No I cannot Steve! I am where you were 13 years ago. Broke and scared! I need to come down there and get a game plan for my life!!!

Richard Thomas

I have been receiving your newsletters for quite sometime now. That was an awesome response; not because it was cool, but because you were brutally honest.

It has been my experience that most people run from the truth. You hit that dead on and I commend you!


Richard Thomas

Walter Cortes

I speak for myself and not the general masses. You can conclude that lack of ambition is the reason for financial misery, I disagree. Why? There are so many factors why a person is afraid to move forward. Giving you some of the reasons here serves no justification in a slightest way.

Honestly, I believe that leading someone into a better course in life is highly commendable. As previously stated in my prior correspondence with you, I am devouring the educational CDs you sent me and they are great, thank you. If there is one thing I like the most about you, Steve, it is the fact that you don’t make no apologies for your being bold (it speaks volume about a person’s character). In my case, I know that the teacher is ready when my time comes.



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