Selling to Friends and Family

A woman taking photo of pottery to be sold
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 Everyone in sales enjoys an easy sale now and then. Okay, let's be honest; people in sales would love all their sales to be easy. But in the real world, very few sales are simple and easy. Most would prefer closing a sale on the first visit than having to meet with their customer time and time again before they earn the right to close the sale.

So when an opportunity to sell to family or friends comes along, the temptation to engage them in a sales cycle is strong. But, is it in your best interest to sell to family and friends?

Sometimes, Selling to Family or Friends is Inevitable

Depending on what you sell, your family or friends may want to buy from you and you won't need to "sell" them at all. This is more "order taking" than it is sales.

But be careful to not charge them more or less than what you'd charge anyone else. Charging your family or friends more than the normal price for your product or services are is akin to taking advantage of your relationship. Likewise, giving them a steep discount may hurt your position with your sales company.

The best way to proceed when a family or friend engages you and wants to buy something from you is to offer them a fair price and that you offer them the same level of customer service you give every other customer.

Some Sales Industries Are More Friends and Family Focused

There are some industries that not only want you to sell to your family and friends but actually, encourage it. The insurance industry is an excellent example of an industry that expects their rookie sales professionals to actively prospect to their family, friends, and associates.

It is very common for a new insurance agent to be asked for a list of 100 to 200 names of friends and family. This list becomes the new agent's call list.

If you are asked for such a list and your employer fully expects you to not only turn in your list but also to actively try to sell to those on your list, you need to make a decision. If the idea of calling your family and friends and asking for them to do business with you is way outside of your comfort zone, then you should think about a different sales position.

Industries to Avoid Selling to Family and Friends

A great way to end a friendship or to cause stress in families is to sell products that have a tendency to malfunction or professional services that involve selling financial services. Here are two examples:

Let's say you landed your first sales job with an auto dealer and you are assigned to selling used cars. Your family and friends may be in the market for a new (used) car and, while they are out shopping, stop in to check out your inventory. So, you sell them a car (giving them a fair and honest price) on a car that breaks down a few weeks after they take ownership. To make matters worse, the car continues to give them problems for several months until they end up spending a whole lot of money getting the car repaired. And, of course, that needed repair wasn't under the used car warranty your dealership offers.

It goes without saying that while your family member or friend won't blame you for all the issues they had with the car, they will never forget that YOU sold it to them.

Another example is for those in the financial services industry. Let's say a friend has some money to invest and asks you for your advice. You share your knowledge and offer some suggestions as to where she can invest her money. She likes your ideas and asks you if she can buy the financial vehicle through you.

You make the transaction, take her money, earn your commission then move on with your day. This could turn out great if your investment idea works out well but, if things go south, you may end up losing a friend.

People are very sensitive when it comes to money matters and losing money on an investment is a very emotional event. And if you were the one who suggested that a friend invests in something that loses money, they will blame you.

The best advice, you can offer suggestions and share your expertise, but when it comes to selling products that have a tendency of malfunctioning or services that come with the inherent potential of losing money, it's better off if someone else in your company handles the sale.