Sales Coach Christine Harrington

Help! I have Buddy Syndrome!

Help! I Have Buddy Syndrome!

The worst place you can find yourself with a prospect is the Twilight Zone of Buddy Syndrome. It’s confusing. It’s frustrating. And as a sales rep or business owner it can leave you flat broke.

Hopefully, you’re not making this mistake….Let me explain.

When you’re dating and you meet the person of your dreams, the worst possible thing they can say to you is

“Let’s BE Friends”


In business, I see the same thing happen ALL THE TIME! And it happened to me too.

Sales reps say things that put them in the category of “friends” by the prospect. Before you know it…you’re suffering from Buddy Syndrome.

So how do you know if your prospects have put you in the “friend” category? What are the signs?

Here are Clues to determine if you’re suffering from Buddy Syndrome.
  • Have you hit it off with the prospect, found common interest and felt like there’s a rapport but when it’s time to buy, they’ve gone underground? They no longer take your calls or answer your emails?
  • Have you ever “courted” the prospect, dinner, ballgame, theater tickets and when it’s time to ask for the sale, they seemed irritated or worse aloof?
  • How about this…. the prospect is engaging. You feel great about the way the business relationship is progressing. He’s asked your opinion on business trends, and the competition. He’s even asked your thoughts on ideas to grow his business. BUT then you close the deal and he says he’s “only picking your brain.” What? Really?

If these scenarios sound familiar, you’re in Buddy Syndrome and the prospect only sees you as a buddy, a free dinner, beers and a ballgame, or a business resource.

So now that you’re in it…how do you get out of it? Or better yet…how to avoid the buddy syndrome with the next prospect.

Some sales rep and small business owners make the mistake of “being real”…. literally! They share too much of themselves in an attempt to align with the prospect…

In other words…instead of treating them as a business prospect, they treat them like a buddy….


Because we’ve all been told people want to do business with their friends not a stuffy professional. And that’s true …but the buddy syndrome is taking this one step too far in the beginning of a business relationship. There is a fine line between developing a friendly business relationship and a personal friendship.

It takes years to form a lasting business relationship that could turn into a personal friendship. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about when you first meet a prospect and you’re cultivating the prospect into a client. There’s a boundary that you should maintain in order for the prospect to take you seriously.

If you cross that line… the prospect considers you a friend… not a serious business associate.

Let me expand….in your personal life, who’s the hardest people to sell too…YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS!


Because they don’t see you as a business person they see you as their little brother Johnny or as Jill, their best friend who suffered from acne until she was 20!

Same thing with the prospect…if you crossed over that line to personal friendship early on it’s going to be hard to change back to a business relationship.

Now…..In the next episode of Sales Pearls, I’ll explain how to move the prospect into a friendly business relationship without crossing over to “let’s be buddies”. I’ll also tell you my personal story on how I suffered the Buddy Syndrome and what I did about it! Stay tuned. It will posted next Thursday.

It’s your turn..

Has the buddy syndrome caught you? Tell the community about it in the comments below. And if this article has helped you, will you share it with a few of your friends?

Next…watch the video…it strikes home a few points and it’s entertaining! 

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