I don’t do business with friends

I recently had a long conversation with a CEO who said, “I don’t do business with friends.” Did I hear that right? I have been in sales and sales management for over thirty years and I can tell you that one of the great truths is; your buyer has to like you before they will buy from you, with very few exceptions, (you have a monopoly, or the purchase is not significant).

I had to dig a little deeper. His point of view is that if you are his friend you will not work as hard for him. He feels you will let your friendship carry the weight of the transaction. What do you think? Personally I disagree in a BIG way. I guess it depends a bit on who your friends are and how you define a friend.

My experience has been that real friends can care more than others. So when something goes wrong they work just a bit harder (sometimes a lot harder) to make things right. After all who wants to lose a friend? Friends don’t want to let each other down.

After listening to this CEO and pondering this idea I came to the conclusion that just like doing business with anyone, there are some steps we can take to ensure success. And we want to take these steps with friends especially as friendship is valuable.

  1. Communicate the expectations for the job, clearly and in measurable terms. Let’s make sure everyone knows what success looks like and make no assumptions.
  2. Make sure your motives and intentions are in line. Just like you would not take advantage of your customer you should not want to take advantage of your friendships.
  3. Delegate but don’t abdicate. That is, check in on the progress of the job and provide feedback regarding “well done’s” and improvements expected. Too often I have seen customers hire a firm to do work and then they say, “I’ve outsourced it, and this is not my responsibility anymore.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

My opinion and it is based on the friends I have is that If I can do business with a friend and the friend can deliver value it’s better for everyone.

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