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    10 Replies Latest reply on Mar 16, 2009 7:54 AM by massagefever

    Back scratching.

    designer Tracker
      I am very curious for the people that own a business and sell a product or service...how they view "back scratching"? By this, I mean...if you go to a barber or regular hair stylist and they know you for awhile and ask you about your business and seem sooooo concerned and interested, do they ever end up purchasing from you? Or maybe if you go to the dentist on and off and you kind of know your dentist and you talk about your business and they seem genuinely like they care, do you ever get any business from your dentist? Do you have a real good neighbor or relative who seems like they are always rallying for you to do good, but they won't ever put their money where their mouth is and purchase from you? It seems that everyone always needs gifts thoughout the year for holidays and birthdays, etc. or can benefit from a service at one time or another. Is it right or wrong to expect from the people that you faithfully support and patronize to reciprocate and support you back? It seems like it would be the right and fair thing to do. Am I wrong to expect this? Would like some thoughts on it. It can cause some hard feelings like after awhile it is a one way street. You are making someone richer all the time and they won't spend a penny back on you. Thank you!
        • Re: Back scratching.
          Lighthouse24 Ranger
          My view: There are some of my client's and customer's businesses that I buy from, and some I don't. All things being equal, I'd buy from someone who buys from me. All things are not usually equal, however.

          I assume that others (my dentist, barber, etc.) see things the same way -- they're either not buying what I'm selling at all, or all things are not equal and they're buying elsewhere. That's fine.

          As for friends, relatives, and neighbors . . . I honestly don't want them as clients or customers. One reason is because people with personal connections to a business owner often expect (and may deserve) special treatment from the company. Special treatment for a select few is not a good business practice in my view. It can lead to problems for other customers and problems for employees. I think this would be true for most businesses.

          Another reason (that may be unique to professional services) is that my business persona requires a set of skills that I don't want to employ with friends. No, I'm not engaged in anything unethical -- but I do very often have to tactfully tell clients things they don't want to hear, convincingly persuade them to do things they don't want to do, or stubbornly insist that they don't do things they seem dead set on doing. I also have to be right -- pretty much all the time.

          With friends, however, I don't have to be right. I can relax, act goofy, and make mistakes. I can be direct and undiplomatic -- if they want to do something stupid, I can just tell them it's stupid. When they decide to do it anyway, I don't have an obligation to talk them out of it -- I can cheer them on, or even try to help. When it all comes crashing down, I don't have to say I warned them or worry about the legal or financial consequences -- I just listen and console.

          Personally, I can't be a paid consultant and a good friend to the same person. The great friend doesn't make such a good consultant. The good consultant doesn't make such a great friend. So when it comes to friends and neighbors, I'll take their love, laughter, and companionship -- not their money.
          • Re: Back scratching.
            babyloncandle Newbie
            I avoid this kind of back scratching, designer. I think it's smarmy. If I patronize a business it's because I want or need the product it's selling, and the business makes me feel welcome there. I want people to do business with me for the same reasons. I don't patronize a store hoping for some eventual free advertising. My experience with someone who thinks like you do is they feel like you "owe" them for something you never asked them to do, and come to "collect" for a very long time. I've always distanced myself from people like that. I think a lot of people do.

            Have you tried telling the business owners that you'd like to do a referral exchange up front? That might work out better for you than going about it sideways. You'd be surprised how many people will say yes, without all the butt-kissing.

            Also, like already mentioned, I keep my personal friends and their businesses as far away from my business as possible, for reasons already mentioned, but also because I believe more in direct advertising for business (commercials, yellow pages, etc) than indirect.
            • Re: Back scratching.
              designer Tracker
              I appreciate the different responses. There are definitely many ways to look at it. I have always said if you want to age 10 years and find out who your so-called real friends are, just start-up a business! Ha!

              Keep in mind, I only sell $50 necklaces, not big $500 vacation packages or anything like a $1000.00 web-site contracts. When I get my hair done every other month...it is nearly $200 a pop after a cut, highlights, tip and a product or two. My hairstlyist makes an easy $1,200.00 a year from me alone and this goes on for 3 years....then they don't buy not even one $50 necklace but they always ask me how is business each time I visit and they want me to chat and chat and chat and spill the beans on the stars and behind the scenes of the jewlery biz. Yes - - I go to them because they do great hair. I hate the word smarmy? and really don't expect their business back. I was just thinking it would be nice. The rich get richer and the poor stay poor.
                • Re: Back scratching.
                  designer Tracker
                  Just wanted to also add...I think there is a fine line, too - - about believing in yourself and your product so much and being so passionate about it that anytime you make an acquaintance or friend, we feel we have the right to try to sway them to give it a try and we want to share that excitement and joy with them. When they don't seem to bite...we become sad and disappointed and rejection sets in. At least it does for me. When I let people in my life and open myself up then, we can become vulnerable. Maybe other poeple are just tougher and thick skinned.
                  • Re: Back scratching.
                    Lighthouse24 Ranger

                    Designer, part of what you'd indicated a desire to see (reciprocity) might have to do with "technique." Let's take you and your hairstylist. If your interactions are like 90 percent of the interactions between hairstylists and business owners, the stylist asks some good conversation-launching questions, and then you talk about you and your business. How much, by comparison, do you probe into the stylist's life and interests?

                    If you have used this stylist for awhile and truly consider him/her to be a potential customer, then by now, you probably know every female in his/her life by name and enough about them to be able to "soft sell" ("Hey, doesn't your niece Jennifer's turn 21 this month? I have a necklace I'll bet she'd love.") Maybe the stylist buys, or tells a friend or relative who hasn't found Jennifer a gift yet. It's a "personal networking" style of selling, where you build a connection by probing for information, listening more than you talk, remembering what you hear, and following up with timely and targeted "casual offers" (but no "hard sells").

                    If the business owner doesn't know enough about the stylist (or any other person) to use this technique, it's probably because the business owner is doing most of the talking -- which is perfectly normal in that situation, but to the stylist (after years of practice at faking interest) is "blah, blah, blah, blah, blah . . ." The stylist is in his/her own world, and the idea that you have something to sell that he/she might want never even connects.

                    Just a thought . . .

                      • Re: Back scratching.
                        designer Tracker
                        Lighthouse, I do see what you are saying, yes..there are ways we have to look for opportunities to connect and manuever the conversation or technique.... Just so I share more...me and my hairstylist have been around the block for a few years. I know from our talks that she owns a beautiful condo, plays softball with her friends, watches DVD's, has a sister in Texas, travels with her girlfriends to NY, etc., and on and on. She knows quite a bit about me, too. My career, my vacations, etc. She even has one of my necklaces that I gave to her for a Chrsitmas present because she keeps my hair in such great shape. There was even talk one year, that she might have me do her sister's wedding necklace, but they went with a big name brand and got a diamond set necklace. But in 3 1/2 yrs., she never took it upon herself to come to my Web site and place an order or even got one of her girlfriends or relatives to place an order. I just assumed she might be on a budget and watching her spending??? But my question was in general....I have so many different friends that never bought in 3 whole years. Some of these people are 6-figure salaried people. I even went to a good friends dinner party and had to sit through dinner when she was so excited to tell everyone how she went to a special sale at C. D. Peacock's and she bought 3 necklaces and a watch and spent a few hundred dollars. Or I went to a BBQ and the hostess talked about this Suzanne Somers Jewelry cruise she went on and how she has a whole closet of Judith Ripka jewelry and 200 Suzanne Somers pieces. And, she knows I make jewelry and asks how business is but never bought from me. And, I just find that so amazing and almost borderline mean. That's all. But, like IWrite said...I should not let that interfere with my friendships or relationships with them. I cn only suggest and press to a point and then have to drop the subject.
                          • Re: Back scratching.
                            massagefever Adventurer
                            I think it is great to talk about your business about your product or service, even to people who haven't bought anything. As long as you are not giving away free info that you charge for, like a CPA, that they can turn around and use themselves.

                            Word of mouth is a great marketing tool. Just because your dentist doesn't have the need for your product doesn't mean that he won't run into a buddy one day who does and say hey I have this client who can hook you up.

                            Being a passionate massage therapist, I talk to anyone I do business with about the benefits, how much I love it, or new services. But I also do some JV marketing with some of the businesses I frequent often. And no matter who, I always contact to thank for the referral.

                            I say just be careful you are giving out free service when you talk, otherwise, talk away.
                      • Re: Back scratching.
                        Iwrite Pioneer
                        I had to think about this. No, I don't expect them to even if they show an intense interest. I would like for them to refer me or something but that's extra to me. I will admit, it is hard when I get a direct mail piece from a store I am a very loyal customer to, and it isn't my work. But I realize not everyone has the same set of beliefs as I do. I later found out he was trying to help out his son-in-law who had been out of work for a while. I was really glad I didn't nuke my relationship over that, I like shopping there.

                        I think we all wonder why is this person asking me about things and they never buy a thing. It is natural. I don't see anything wrong with asking the person, "Can I ask you a question? You seem interested in my jewelry business but never buy anything. Is there a design or style that you are looking for that I don't have?" Open up a dialogue. It is the mind-reading that gets us in trouble.
                          • Re: Back scratching.
                            designer Tracker
                            I do see! The lightbulb came on. That's why it's good to talk to folks and glad for this forum. When we think a certain way, or fall off track....it's good to share with others in the business world. I guess we all have to just keep working hard and stay focused. If we start to dwell and think about missed opportunities or expect certain things, taking things for granted it's just wasting energy. Thanks!!!
                              • Re: Back scratching.
                                Iwrite Pioneer
                                Good for you. This post encouraged me to think more about what I expect and want from my relationships. You made me think about this. Thanks.

                                An art director I used to work with taught me this: "If you expect everyone to respond like you would, you're only setting yourself up to be disappointed."