No matter how much you believe in your product or service, as an entrepreneur or salesperson, you may feel a bit awkward asking those closest to you to hand over their hard-earned dough in exchange for your product or service. (This can be especially true if you’re suffering from Impostor Syndrome.) After all, our friends and family usually support us willingly and eagerly, but you don’t want to take advantage or wear out their patience. So, how can you sell to your friends successfully and authentically, without burning bridges and damaging the strong network you’ve built throughout your life?
Tell, Show, and Live Your Story
This is possibly the most important factor of selling to your network -- you've got to be authentic.
With more than 20 million people participating in network marketing in 2015, and numbers only growing since then, it’s likely that you’re not the only friend in your network promoting a product or asking your friends to make a purchase.
What sets you apart from others is your STORY. Why are you selling this product? How has it actually changed your life? How do you use it daily, weekly, monthly? Aside from the business income, how it is worth your time and your pennies?
Social media is powerful, and while it only shows a particular perspective on our stories, that’s all the more reason to be sure your story is clear, consistent, and true to you.
Be Transparent - and Consistent
It’s important to treat your friends like you would any other customer -- with respect.
Often, you might be tempted to offer friends or family members special pricing or discounts. While this may seem like a nice thing to do, you’re actually undercutting your own value and telling your potential client - even if they’re a close friend - that you don’t believe in the full value of your product. When selling to friends and family, it’s best to offer the same fair price you give everyone else, and to provide them the same high level of service. This establishes you as a consistent businessperson, with confidence in your product and respect for both parties.
This isn’t to say that you should ignore promotions. Many companies offer monthly specials or periodic bonuses with purchase. These are a great idea to promote to ANYONE on your prospect list, but you can also take advantage of these specials to reach out to friends or family members who will appreciate the extra discounts. But don’t go out of your way to offer extra discounts and cut into your profits. This sets unrealistic expectations and doesn’t benefit either side of the transaction.
Everyone Likes To Feel Special
So what about that high level of customer service? It’s critical with all clients -- even, and especially, those most likely to cut you some slack. After all, your relationship is something you’ve invested hours, maybe even years into, and there’s a good chance it may outlast your business. So don’t gamble a friendship in order to close a sale. Don’t let the friendship give you an excuse for cutting corners when it comes to customer service.
Everyone likes to feel special and appreciated. You’ve got an incredible opportunity to cultivate this feeling by how you respond to your customers or prospects.
How can you do this? Here are a few quick suggestions:
- Send a handwritten thank-you card to a new enrollee
- Share a free sample with an interested friend, just because - with no pressure to buy
- Set up an exclusive Facebook group for customers, or send them a special newsletter, making sure they know about upcoming promotions, specials, or opportunities. Ensure they know this is something not available to the general public
- Follow up with your customers who’ve been using your product for a few months. See how they like it, what needs to change. Approach it from a perspective of support, not enhancing sales.
Be Respectful, And Accept A Firm No
Remember the 20 million people working in network & multi-level marketing? Well, if your friend has already been approached by a handful of these people, no matter how much they might be a good fit for your product, they might be exhausted by people trying to sell to them. It’s critical to respect their decision - if it’s a firm no, accept that. Otherwise, it could impact more than just your sales -- it could have a negative impact on the friendship. (link)
The key is, you’ll continue to live your story -- authentically and with passion -- and they’ll see that play out in your life. It may or may not change their mind, but when they come to a point when they’re ready to buy, who do you think they’ll approach -- the pushy salesperson who wouldn’t take a no, or the happily fulfilled, passionate friend who respected them?
Ask For Introductions -- Smartly
If you’re struggling to find new potential customers and partners, don’t continue to ask just your current network - it’s critical to build and bring new people into the fold. To really excel, you need to be doing this daily, or at least weekly.
Be up front with your network about your desire for growth. But don’t just go crazy by reaching out cold to their friend lists -- Ask your network directly. See who might be interested in your product. Find out if they’ve got a friend looking for a part-time, residual income opportunity. Learn who needs the type of service or product you’ve got to sell.
These smart introductions are more likely to generate an interested customer and promote positive relationships than slapdash, unfocused approaches to anyone who has a social media profile and a mutual friend. The worst potential outcome is you could damage your _friend’s _relationships. Instead, set yourself up for success and start with the people most likely to welcome your approach.
Show Them It’s Not Just Them
Ultimately, your friends want you to be happy and successful. (If they don’t, then why are you friends?) But they also need to see that you’ve got a bigger vision, and you’re not content to just get by on their goodwill purchases and introductions.
Show your friends and your entire network that you’ve got a bigger plan - you’re out there every day, doing the work to meet new people, build your business, enhance your social presence & profile, and finding every opportunity to grow. The more activity people see, the more visible your effort and passion is, the greater your chance of attracting the very people you want to connect with. As you expand your business out beyond your personal network, your friends can cheer you on, knowing they were there to support you at the very beginning.