I don't know what it is about me but I am always being approached by 'friends' asking me if I have really connected with the essence of the real me or if I am really bringing out my inner style queen, with the right choice of colours? Or had I realised how incredibly interested I was in cooking and all the endless utensils it required? And did I realise how many cosmetics today's woman really needed before she could reach lunch time?
It is only when I realised that these questions were actually being asked with a financial motive in mind, because they were trying to sell me products under the guise of a friendship, that I actually started to question the friendships in the first place.
As a graduate of Geezer Bird College, anyone who knows me well will know that I am very unlikely to worry about finding my inner me (quite happy with the outer me thanks!), worrying about whether I'm a purple person or an apricot person and as for styling tips, I've worn black for the last 20 years and nothing is changing now so again, no thanks. But most importantly, I'm never going to buy anything from anyone if the seller isn't straight about what they are actually selling to me in the first place.
I don't want anyone to reach out to my inner me or connect with me on an emotional level unless they really are my friend. I would much rather these 'friends' just sell me the product honestly. I would then be more than happy to decide whether to buy it or not.
I suppose all I am saying really to those sales people in disguise is just tell me you are selling something! It is terribly English to be embarrassed by a commercial dialogue but it is far more embarrassing to be having one conversation and then realise that it is actually about something completely different, and one in which money is expected to change hands!
In my view, the key to any successful direct sales dialogue starts with clearly communicating what it is you are selling and why it beats the competition. No buyer wants to feel cornered or emotionally blackmailed into making a purchase.
In our online world, where you can't read any content now without some pesky ad or sponsored article popping up, I think that the same principle applies.
Most of us would probably prefer to know the context of any sales message that we receive and then make the decision to buy or not. When we are in buying mode we might research expert opinion on the product (which is when PR and the power of third party endorsements from journalists and influencers comes in) but most of us will still want to know whether we are being sold to or not.
So to all those 'friends' seeking to sell me products at social events, if you really must do this you will have much more success if you suggest a darts night or a day at the races! But just let me know at the outset that you want to sell me something. I'm actually happy to be sold to, I just feel confused when an emotional dialogue culminates in presenting me with a pot of face cream.