Convert Immediate Network into Customers

Updated on 25 March 2019

Subscription Form (#66)
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 Convert Friends and Family into Loyal Customers

The “know, like, trust and buy” factor is the basis for all marketing plans, or as Bob Burg, the American motivational speaker, consultant and author, puts it: “All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like, and trust.”

“When starting out in business, the first people that you rely on to test out a product and pricing are those closest to you or as we teach the kids in the FutureProof programmes, low hanging fruit,” Lisa Illingworth told Entrepreneurmag.

Illingworth is CEO and co-founder of Futureproof SA, a programme which provides children around Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal with entrepreneurial skills through a series of bootcamps and workshops. Illingworth has a post-graduate degree in education specialising in curriculum studies from the University of the Witwatersrand, she has authored a full curriculum on entrepreneurial studies.

“Your network is your most lucrative source of first customers because they already trust you,” says Illingworth.

Her immediate network helped her close a first sale, she says. “One of our first programmes was sold to a school where a friend and fellow teacher was employed, and they have been a loyal customer ever since.”

Tread carefully

Illingworth advises entrepreneurs who want to invite loved ones to be early users to exercise some caution.

“The feedback loop from selling to these people will be skewed and if you know this, you can build a business that will survive outside of ‘easy targets.’”

It is also important that you deliver the same standard that a “normal” customer would receive, she says.

“I ensure that I don’t deliver a sub-standard product to anyone even if I know them well and they might be lenient on my lack of quality.”

Illingworth’s 3 ways to convert family and friends into brand ambassadors

1. Invite people from your immediate network to like your social media pages and be on an exclusive “first offer” group.

2. Set aside time to invest meaningfully into their lives and businesses, which will create goodwill towards yours.

3. “You can share the revenue with them for any sales that they might have made on your behalf.”

Illingworth’s do’s and don’ts of selling to your immediate network


  • Treat them as you would any other customer and offer your best service.
  • Take time to process [the honest feedback you get] and filter what has been said and use it to grow.
  • Let them know that you are selling a product and a service and ask if you can send them more information.


  • Don’t deliver a sub-standard product to anyone [even you know them well].
  • Don’t let the honest criticism offend you or make you resentful towards the person.
  • Don’t spam them or abuse the communication channels when marketing or you will damage the relationship.

Dos Don'ts Selling Friends Family Final (2)

Get Weekly 5-Minutes Business Advice

Subscribe to receive actionable business tips and resources.

Subscription Form (#66)

Feeling Stuck?