Selling out: How to lose friends and alienate people

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Is there anything quite as annoying as the friend with something to sell? I think we’ve all known one, the chum who signs up with a multi-level-marketing company and tries to flog you products like kitchenware, cosmetics or dietary supplements.

I have just handed over cash for a bottle of herbal tablets that my acquaintance assured me will help me lose weight. I agreed to buy it because I didn’t like to say no, and it was nice of her to think of me.

The hard sell can lead to friction between friends

The hard sell can lead to friction between friends

She knows my cholesterol is high and I’m trying to remedy that without the use of statins. I got out my purse to pay her and almost fainted when she quoted me the price of £28! I was expecting her to say it cost around a fiver!

I almost didn’t have enough cash on me and ended up counting out the very last penny in my purse to her. It was cringe-making and I felt annoyed with myself.

I didn’t want to spend that amount on this product that I had no intention of ingesting, but didn’t like to offend her by saying no. She then began to sing the praises of the various products she and her family were taking that had done everything from all but curing her daughter’s asthma to clearing up her bad memory.

I began to lose the will to live. She had no other topic of conversation other than these products, each one apparently life changing! I desperately held back from coughing in case she presented me with an expensive miracle cure for that too.

Before she left she gave me a catalogue to peruse. I couldn’t believe the prices! Who would pay £12 for a pump soap, hasn’t she heard of pound shops? My mild-mannered friend had turned into the saleswoman from hell! She raved so much about the products she was selling you’d almost think she’d undergone a form of brainwashing. She had made me feel very uncomfortable.

It brought back memories of another pal who got involved in selling a ‘healthy’ chocolate bar a few years back. Our friendship suffered because he told me he had sold it to a woman whose husband had dementia. He claimed after the husband ate it he recognised his wife for the first time in years. He knew my father had Alzheimer’s.

I felt it unforgivable that he would use my dad’s suffering to try to flog me bars of chocolate as a miracle cure for an incurable disease.

Amazingly this is the effect joining these multi-level-marketing companies can have on people. Some recruits make exaggerated claims about their product’s virtues in desperation to garner sales or recruit others into joining the company too.

These companies are tiered, commission-based businesses. Sales people are compensated for the sales they generate and also for the sales of other salespeople that they recruit. Business is done by word of mouth so you need lots of family and friends to make it work.

The trust and guilt involved in friendships are an opportunity for these companies to make money. Who really wants to say no when a mate asks you to buy something from them, especially when you get the rehearsed sales pitch?

They may also invite you to join them in their venture because they’re allegedly making a fortune! I keep looking at the exorbitantly priced bottle of herbs I just purchased and thinking what else I could have done with the money I wasted on it.

Although a lot of these dietary supplement products sold by these companies make great claims about what the product will do for your wellbeing, they present no real evidence to back these claims up. If it were that good why isn’t it being sold on the high street, and why isn’t everyone taking it?

It was my own choice to buy the product but because I consider the seller a chum, I felt obligated and didn’t want to cause offence by saying no. I wouldn’t have bought it from a stranger.

Animosity in your social circle will soon grow if you are constantly torturing your friends with sales patter.

Few people make their fortunes joining these multi-level-companies. It can prove little gain for a lot of effort, but perhaps worst of all for the person relying on their family and acquaintances to generate cash, it can be the equivalent of taking a crash course in how to lose friends and alienate people.