An Open Letter To My Sales Friends/Family:
To: My dearest friends and and family who sell for any company that is set up where one individual sells to another who then sells to another and so on….I know you call it really crafty things nowadays, but for the sake of simplicity I am fairly certain you still know who you are…
I know you just wanna educate me and you want to make a little extra income for your family too. I know you’re working hard at what you do. I trust your desire is for the good of those around you to share the great new knowledge you “have” with the rest of us that “have not.”
I see you.
Not like “Hey I’m a creeper and I’m watching you”…but as in “I truly do SEE you and love you.” I know you’re not intentionally trying to push me away, but I think it’s time I’m honest with you.
We need to start this conversation.
It’s so clear you love your “stuff.” And it’s super easy for me to see why. You and I both know it’s great stuff.
I see the before/after shots of that incredible mascara and am amazed by the convenience of a little tote bag that has compartments for all of my family’s snacks. I love the all-natural organic sunscreen that’s uber safe for my kids, the smell of those fancy candles, and I think using oils instead of medicines for all of my family’s emotional, physical, and spiritual needs sounds quite lovely. I love that potion you drink that will help me lose weight in half the time and I think the most amazing pizza cutter that cuts through crust like melted butter would definitely make my life a lot simpler…
And I get it. I am the perfect target sales person to add to your “team.” So you give me a call, shoot me an email, or reach out in a text…
…and you’re super bummed when I say no.
And I feel as if I’ve just killed your favorite cat.
It’s not that I just hate sales…though I do…but it’s more than that.
I have some concerns as I hear you share about your company. But really, though, if I’m honest, all four concerns flow out of the first for me…
Concern #1: Ruined Friendships
I cannot tell you how excited I am to see your name in my inbox or pop up on my phone! My heart skips a beat as I think of the memories we had together and how much time has passed since we’ve caught up. We chat, we visit, we reconnect…and then the bomb is dropped…”why I’m really calling is, you see, I’ve joined this new company and I really think you’d love it…”
I cannot tell you how big of a downer that is for me. I awkwardly fumble through how I can kindly decline knowing that I just cannot add one more single thing to my plate right now. And you’re awkward but so desperately trying to hide it because I totally know you thought you had a for sure sale in me. But deep down as we are saying our goodbye’s I grieve that most likely I’ll never hear from you again. It wasn’t just about reconnecting after all this time…it was about me joining your team.
The truth is I miss you.
It’s not that I don’t care about what you’re doing, I just really wish we could connect and it not be about what you can get out of me.
Concern #2: Produces Surface Level Community
Honestly, your parties seem fun. But it’s extremely difficult to attend one of your parties and feel like it’s acceptable to just attend and not buy something. I know you say you just want me to come and have a good time, but I also know that the reason you are having the party in the first place is to either sell me a product or tell me about the amazing “business side” that has given you so much financial freedom.
So we tiptoe around surface level topics and dance around the huge pink elephant in the room, but in reality I feel trapped when I’m there. I love you as a person, but I need you to know I avoid your parties like the plague. Maybe if I don’t show at all you won’t be so upset when I haven’t purchased something.
Concern #3: Financial Gain At Great Expense
Yes, I know that your company can bring more financial freedom, but at what cost? My family? My sanity? My friends? Not only is there often a steep buy-in and/or a monthly minimum, but you are encouraged to start with those closest to you in your sales journey. So you ask your family, your co-workers, your friends, your classmates, and then branch out from there.
You request for me to get on a call so you can “get your feet wet” as your advisor above you teaches you the ropes.
But you and I both know it’s not just learning, yet because I love you I play the part anyway.
Your advisor is going to try to sell to me to show you “how it’s done” and to get you off to a good start in your own business. I try to ask questions to sound like I’m interested, but in reality all I can think about is how to get off that call with our friendship in tact…and without losing my mind….or my husband who will totally kill me if I cave in and buy. You see, he also knows me better than anybody and he just has to give me “that look” and I know that without one word that he’s gently reminding me is there’s no way I have the time, energy or mental capability to add on anything else right now.
I struggle with knowing there is no part of me that wants to join at this time, but your advisor will most likely push to make the sale and deep down I really kinda feel used. I know it’s just how the system works, but I really, really hate that system and I really wish I didn’t have to play along for fear of losing you. My own fear-of-man comes out in a fierce way in these settings…
Concern #4: Time Killer
I don’t spend much time away from my family, but if I do I want it to be for a reason that’s worth it. If I am going to take the time to wash my hair, get dressed in something other than yoga pants, and leave my family for a night then I want to connect with you as a person, not as a salesperson. A party, group phone call or one-on-one girls night that is only about selling me items I never before felt I needed feels a little bit…or lotta bit…like a bait and switch, which reminds me again of reason #1.
I truly do wish you well in all you are doing. I think your “stuff” is great. Really. I do! And yes I see the difference when I use your miracle anti-aging serum and sure, you can totally send me a sample of your crazy awesome nail stickers because I’d love to know what you’re into these days.
The bottom line is this: I want you, not what you market, and there is no product, no matter how amazing, that is worth giving up our friendship for.
I honestly don’t mind if you share some info with me from time to time and who knows maybe one day I’ll find a company I can’t help but be a part of. But here’s the thing, I really would love to reconnect with you just to connect with you too.
And I’m wondering if we can still be friends even if I don’t join your team?
With much love,
Your friend, The Lone Ranger
*P.S. There are some of you who do direct sales and are wicked crazy awesome about it and I love you for it. Some of you are the absolute most lovely people and I know without a doubt you desire friendship and relationship far more than making a sale. So for all of you who love people AND are good at what you do…I ecstatically and enthusiastically applaud you…and want to hug you right now too.
I love this article! I have been on the selling end and left it, and choose to not join again, for those reasons. For some, it’s their calling, but not for me. I appreciate the people who allow me to say no and still count me as a friend.
Thank you and I agree. Some handle sales and relationships really well. It’s always something that kind of lingers, but I honestly believe it’s possible to still have a great friendship and one person be in direct sales. This article isn’t for those though…it’s more for the ones that truly let it interrupt and infect every relationship…and it makes me so sad.
Michael Harness says
Can’t tell you how many times I have had that conversation in my mind over friends who want me to sell everything from soap to miracle elixirs. Thank you Meg for an amazing post.
Thank you for your reply. It was tough to write knowing so very many people are in businesses like that. At the very least, I’m hoping this will help start the dialog between those who do direct sales and those who don’t. Thanks for your comment.
Love you brother.