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Selling to Friends


Selling to FriendsWhat is more awkward than having to ask for business or negotiate tough issues with a friend?  What do you say? What do you do? How do you stay firm on the issues, but soft on the relationship?

I recently received a call from Andrew R. who recently changed from B2B institutional sales in an investment bank to B2C sales as a wealth manager. Talking to CFOs and corporate Treasurers to transact multi-million dollar deals with your firm is one thing, but asking your uncle or best friend to trust you personally with their million dollar retirement fund and the future it represents is something else. Media sales people face this client/friend dilemma all the time.  Over the years, they become good friends with their buyers at ad agencies.   Then, they have to justify price increases or negotiate complex integrated marketing deals. In both cases, the challenge is how to segue from a personal relationship into what could become a tough or sensitive conversation with that person.

“Identify Your Hat”

Simply say, as a wise mentor advised me many years ago, “Let’s take off our personal hats for a moment and put on our business hats. I would like to talk to you about X. How does that sound?” or, “We need to hammer out the details of this deal so that it works for both of us. Okay?”

Your friends will be relieved to hear you say this. Clarity for you means clarity for them as well. Now, THEY know they do not have to feel uncomfortable either saying no or advocating fiercely for their cause.

The result will be a very productive, guilt-free discussion and when you are done, say, something like, “Great. Let’s put our personal hats back on. So, how are the kids?… Where do you want to go for lunch?…What did you think of..? etc.

Always know and communicate with your buyer which hat you are wearing.

P.S. Works in your personal life as well.

Anne Miller is a leading presentation and demo specialist, speaker, and coach who helps people in high stakes situations win business, sell ideas, and rally others to a cause. For more information and free ebook, visit

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