A while back, I wrote about the dangers of selling to friends and family. Recently, a reader wrote to me stating that they wanted to make a “pre-emptive strike” against these kinds of sales pitches, but didn’t know how to go about it.
Please feel free to copy and paste the following email, edit it as you please, and send it to your friends. Trust me, almost all of them will thank you.
A while back, one of my other friends invited me to a [Tupperware/Princess House/Pampered Chef/etc.] party at their home. I accepted, because I felt like I was supposed to – after all, I didn’t want to let my friend down.
When I got to the party, all of the items at the party were way overpriced and, frankly, I didn’t want any of them. But my friend was trying so hard to sell the items that I bought one out of guilt. There went $30 down the tubes. The item’s now gathering dust until I find some excuse to re-gift it to someone else.
The more I thought about this, the more irritated I got. Why should I have to buy stuff I don’t want just to maintain a friendship? I don’t think friendships and sales pitches mix.
So let’s make a deal right now. I’ll never host this kind of party and “bank” on our friendship by inviting you to it, so you’ll never have to feel obligated to buy some junk just because we’re friends. You’ll do the same for me. Deal?
In other words, be straightforward about it. Make it clear that you don’t want to participate in such parties – and also make it clear that you won’t ever utilize your friendship in such a way.
Yes, yes, I’m sure I’m going to hear from lots of people who are happy with the items that they bought at such a party. I’m not writing to you. If you’re interested in the goods these businesses have to offer, then seek out a party in your area and attend one!
I’m also not decrying the products sold. Some of the items at these parties are perfectly fine, though I make no claims about them being any sort of bargain.
I’m also going to hear from people whose friends were glad to have such an opportunity. Perhaps some of your friends did feel this way. However, I’m willing to bet some of them did not – they went to your party and made a purchase merely to be polite and that item found its way to a yard sale somewhere. I know many, many people who fall into this latter category.
If you enjoy hosting such parties, that’s great! Sell to strangers instead of selling to your friends. If your friends are interested when they find out you’re hosting such events, they’ll ask to attend, but make it clear to them that you don’t mix your business and your friendships so that they don’t feel obligated to come. If not, don’t cash in on the friendship.
My concern is simple: selling to your friends usually diminishes your friendship. They feel obligated to come, and when people start feeling as though a relationship is based on obligations that they don’t want to fulfill instead of things they’re happy and excited about, they begin to grow apart and drift away. That’s never worth the small commission you might get from selling to them.