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  • Writer's pictureAshleigh Harvey

The ICKIEST Sales Story I Have

We all have an icky sales story, right? Someone who was so pushy and so ew, that we either spent the money and bought because we were so uncomfortable; or we got really angry. Here's the ickiest sales story I have.

When I was in my 20s, I used to just buy. I felt so guilty if I didn't. I couldn't say no. So, I bought. I spent money that I really needed for food and petrol, on shit like body exfoliators, because I was accosted in the mall and it was easier for me to buy than to say no. Repeatedly.

Then I got really angry. So when people approached me to sell me stuff in an aggressive way, I'd say NO quite rudely and they'd look at me like I was deranged.

I needed a middle ground. I found it this year. My middle ground is to say to people that I find their selling technique disingenuous, and then to explain why.

Here's a case in point:


I started to follow an entrepreneur on Instagram. She had some really interesting things to say, so I also subscribed to her list.

How is she 25 and a millionaire? I don't know. But I'm damn well going to find out.

I'd been on her list for a couple of months, and she sends an email saying this:

I'm putting together a case study, and I'm looking for a specific kind of person to participate. If you're interested, let me know.

So, obviously I reply, people. Because I'm interested in learning. And learning from a 25-year-old MILLIONAIRE? I'm almost 40. I obvs have some shit to learn.

She answers me. She asks if I have some time to answer some questions. I agree. [NOTE: I NEVER have time. I am smashed with work. Time is very precious to me. Don't mess with it.]

The questions she asks are expected:

Where was I at in my business?

What was my business about?

How much was I making?

How much did I want to make?

Where was I looking to grow?

I answer her, and promptly. She responds, saying I'm exactly what she's looking for. Whoop! I'm excited. Case study, here I come!

Millionaire lady then tells me that she's about to send me some info to look at. She sends me a pdf. I open it.

The case study is about gaining visibility in my business.

We're going to create an offer.

Hone my message!

Set a game plan!

Grow my Facebook group!

Make more money!

So juicy! What a case study! This woman is going to build something beautiful from this.

And then...

To participate in this case study, I need to pay $1 500.


Excuse me?

I quickly google the term 'case study': A case study is a qualitative research approach where multiple methods of data collection are used for a detailed examination of a single 'case'.

So, why am I paying? I was confused, yo.

I keep reading the pdf. Maybe at some point when she was creating it, she'd realised that this wasn't the right way to set up a case study.

But no. I had to pay.

In fact, in her FAQs, she'd put this:

  • I'm worried I can't afford this. What should I do?

When I went to hire my very first business coach, I was broke AF. I had $92 in my bank account and was six-figures in debt. If anybody “couldn’t afford a business coach”, it was me. But do you know what I did? I said to myself, “I am going to FIND a WAY to MAKE this happen. Imma figure this shit out.” So I said YES to the coach, put it on a card and made $1800 the very next day. The point? Successful entrepreneurs are NOT the ones who say, “I can’t afford it.” Successful

entrepreneurs ARE the ones who get resourceful.

Guilt, credit card debt and a case study I have to pay to be part of?

No. Nope. Nuh-uh.

I was cross.

So, I sent her this. (Feel free to use it if it ever happens to you):

Hi [Name].

I spent a long time thinking about our conversation yesterday and I wanted to say a few things.

I received an unsolicited email from you asking if I wanted to participate in a case study. I thought that was a really interesting thing to be part of.

I then spent a fair amount of time answering your questions, putting thought into my answers, so that this would be mutually beneficial and valuable.

Once you sent through the information, I realised that this actually isn't a case study. This is a course that you're selling.

I don't feel that the expectations set up at the beginning of our transaction were fair or honest.

I feel a bit ambushed. I'm going to have to unsubscribe from your list, unfortunately.

The moral of the story:

Selling is OKAY! It's normal. It's good. You are running a business. You HAVE to sell. Everyone knows that. And they know it because they are selling too. What's NOT okay is this:

  1. Sending messages and emails to people out of the blue and asking them to buy from you, if you've spent not a single moment in time giving them some kind of value or idea of who you are.

  2. Sending generic emails, trying to sell your services. 'Hi, X, your Instagram account looks amazing. Ever thought about increasing your followers? That's what we do here at Spam-an-email-list-dot-com.' Don't be this person, please.

  3. Don't ever, ever send out a call to join a case study and then tell people they have to pay to be part of it.

All right. Rant over. Happy, ethical selling!


Ashleigh is a copywriter who helps women find their authentic voices, so they can weave it into their business and their branding, and rise. Boom. For real conversations, join her Facebook group here - Make a Song and Dance: Female Business Owners, RISING

Which Grammy-winning superstar is your business? 86% of consumers say authenticity is a key factor when deciding what brands they like and support.

Take the quiz to discover your brand’s unique voice and develop a melody that makes you memorable AF (basically you’ll be the online business version of an earworm!) And then create copy that rakes in the $$$s.

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Judy Dudley
Judy Dudley
Oct 28, 2022

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