I’m going to preface this by saying that I’m in sales. But I also don’t like the approach of many salespeople. I instinctively cringe or roll my eyes when I see some of them. Some of us are conditioned to think the worst and assume that they only have their own interests in mind. I have had to change my way of thinking after being in sales for almost 20 years. I have seen the best in some sales people. Most of them do truly believe in their products and businesses. They may not always communicate that the best way, but that seems to be the general assumption. And now with the uptick of social commerce it seems like there are more people than ever getting into sales – as a part-time gig or full-time career.
In this era of e-commerce and work-from-home sales, word of mouth is intrinsically linked to results. Your friend has to get the word out or their business will fail. They cannot simply post about their business four times a day on Instagram or Facebook and think that people will just reach out to them. So they need to contact you and the rest of their market by text, phone call, email, or message. Here are three reasons they are reaching out to you and how you can respond that will let them know your current position.
1. They think you might benefit from their products. They have a product that can alleviate the issues you have with low energy. You had mentioned in the past you had wanted to lose some weight and they sell shakes and workout programs that could help you. Your friend may feel amazing and confident after using new skin care products and wants you to feel the same. Their essential oils have helped their child sleep through the night and your toddler is still getting up four times a night. You keep posting pictures of yourself in yoga pants and could use a wardrobe makeover. (That may or may not be me!) They see a potential need in your current situation and have a product that can help you. That’s called being a friend. Yes, they may benefit financially from helping you, but they are coming from a serving mentality, not a selfish one.
How you can handle this: Salespeople are taught that it takes 6-8 touches to make a sale. Sometimes we get lucky and make the sale on the first contact, but we need to follow-up and be pleasantly persistent. I had someone tell me recently that I’ve mastered the “pleasantly persistent” sales tactic and I told him, “Thank you, but that’s because I can’t close!” I was kidding, but glad that he could see that. Do not ignore your friend. They are your friend for a reason. Let them know that you are not in a position to talk right now but that they can follow up with you in a few months. If they are good, they will. If you are excited to hear more about their product, let them know that too! If you don’t think you are interested, say that! Tell them you don’t think you would be a good prospect but that you will give them a few minutes. If they don’t respect your time limits or where you are, then you can ignore them. We cannot read minds and don’t know why you are ignoring us. One of my recent favorite responses to an initial reachout was on LinkedIn. I’ve called him twice and thought it was hilarious!
2. They want you to become a business partner. They see something in you that they feel would make you successful in their industry. You are the funniest mom at school and have great people skills. You are a successful career woman and know how to multi-task. You are the guy that other men go to for advice and are an influencer. Everything you touch turns to gold and they know your family could benefit from their business structure. Whatever it is, they want to work with you. Take that as a compliment. They see something in you and its positive.
How you can handle this: I’ve blown friends off in the past when they reached out to me about their businesses. Not in a bad way, but I blew them off before I even listened to what they had to say. And no one should feel like they have to be recruited from every different sales company out there. That being said, respond to them. Let them know where you are. Let them know that you are open to hearing about a new opportunity. If the timing is right to talk to you, communicate that. When I was approached by my friend about the current company I represent I told her that I wasn’t interested in doing the business but I would listen to what she had to say because I knew she was doing well, respected her, and trusted her. Turns out I was wrong and to say I’m happy I was wrong is an understatement.
3. They think you would be a great connector and might have a few referrals for them. You should never prejudge someone. As a sales person, we never really know who is interested and who isn’t. That being said, some of the people I have reached out to I really don’t want to work with. Oil and water, baby! But I know that they are great connectors and based on who they are, people would be willing to listen to me. You may be this type of person for your friend so feel flattered they see you this way!
How you can handle this: If you have a few people you think would be great people for your friend to talk to, pass those names on. I just got off the phone with a new friend today and she wasn’t quite ready to give me referrals but said, “I will think of some people and get back to you.” I appreciated her time and even if I don’t get referrals from her, I appreciated her nod of support. If you don’t want to refer anyone, tell them you need more information about their business. If you want to talk to your friends first, tell them that and ask for a quick script that you can use as you talk to your friends. After all, you don’t know all the ins and outs of the product or business, and shouldn’t have to come up with something on your own.
Thanks again for taking the time to read my thoughts about this subject. I hope this helps to avoid any future conflict you may be feeling with a friend in sales. And know that even listening truly means a lot.
(Family photo by Tracy Walsh Photography.)