Let me just say the topic of this blog excites me for a number of different reasons. I was actually asked by a contact on LinkedIn who enjoyed another blog I wrote, The Art of the Sales Call, to expand more on this topic. I believe in it wholeheartedly and it applies to virtually everyone whether your profession is sales or not. I’m talking about “likeability.” My thoughts are plain and simply… people don’t buy from people they don’t like.
Whether you know it or not… we all started selling at a very young age and do so virtually every single day. Let me elaborate.
- Did you (not your parents-haha) sell candy, raffle tickets, Girl Scout cookies, lemonade or anything else as a child?
- When you were younger, ever convince one parent to let you do or have something when the other parent had already said no?
- What about talking someone or a group of friends into doing something?
- Or perhaps you were at the store and “sweet-talked” the clerk into letting you exchange, return or get a refund when store policy dictated otherwise?
- And maybe… just maybe you talked your significant other into a vacation with your in-laws? That took some real skills!!!
Among all of the above, I grew up mowing lawns with my twin brother and we had quite the lucrative business. My point being is that whether your official job title includes the word “sales” or not, personally and professionally, we are all sales people. I do not consider myself a software or insurance salesperson… I’m in “life” sales each and every day like you.
A while ago a mentor of mine told me that she would rather have someone with people skills any day of the week and twice on Sunday rather than someone who had knowledge. You can teach knowledge. In my opinion, it’s very hard to teach people skills and it’s not something you can feign either. Sure we all have skills in “pretending.” Pretending to have a good time when you’re not or liking someone when you don’t although it’s hard to mask subliminal tells or queues. Pretending only gets you so far. Similar to the natural ability that a professional athlete or musician might have, I believe people skills, for the most part, are hard-wired into a person’s genetic make-up and then nurtured for better or worse during one’s upbringing although change is possible depending on the catalyst.
My Dad would tell you he could tell if he likes you by looking at the back of your head – if it works so be it. Don’t think he’s ever been wrong now that I think about it. Clearly, likeability is subjective and the perception of possessing it or the lack there of would depend on each individual. So how do you think “likeability” impacts one’s sales performance as it relates to what I like to call the “Five P’s Of “Selling?” Not to be confused with the Five Ps of “Marketing.” In no particular order they are…
- Product knowledge.
- Product availability.
- Perception of service.
- Point of purchase readiness.
And once again, if I haven’t made it abundantly clear upon reading further you’ll see that I’m a little biased. I believe that all things being equal (and some times not) that “likeability” more times than not is more important than any of the “Five P’s” and will generate more sales for the person that is “more” likeable. Granted, we’re not talking about specific industries, products, services or prospect scenarios… indulge me a little while writing about nonspecific circumstances.
More frequently I’ve found that if a prospect likes you and trusts you they will pay more to work with you than with others who may have the same product and/or service for less. In most industries with most products, salespeople pretty much have access to the same pricing (in the same region) unless they’re doing something shall we say unscrupulous or off the books just to get a sell. Many times I’ve seen other agents quote different products or premium options claiming it was the same as my proposal. If the prospect is willing to do a little fact-finding and the other agent is willing to cooperate then most times the truth comes out. Then regardless of what happens, the prospect/customer is happy and that indeed is what matters most.
Don’t get me wrong, you do have to know your products. My personal policy is that if I can’t answer a question with 100% accuracy, not 99%, then I always provide my best guess and ask for time to confirm the answer and get back to them expeditiously. If they like you… the prospect will give you time to get the information needed.
If whatever you’re selling is readily available then the customer won’t have to wait and this point is moot. If there is a backorder or wait-time “and” you can convey with complete accuracy when the product and/or service will be delivered (and their life doesn’t depend on it) then most are willing to wait. This point is a little bit of a pet peeve of mine. If I’ve hired you to provide a product or perform a service, there is a wait time “and” I’m willing to wait for it then by golly see that it is delivered on time. If you tell me that my Illudium PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator will be ready on September 15th, 2015 then kindly be sure that it is ready “on” that date. And if you can deliver it earlier… that much the better.
I can’t believe I just wrote “by golly” and did you catch the Looney Tunes Marvin the Martian reference?
As sales professionals we represent our company… every department from the front office to shipping. If during your “courting” of the prospect, which a great time to sale “value” above and beyond the price, you service them well enough to where they want to do business with you, then the prospect has every right to expect the same level of service with you and your company once they become a customer. Now, this customer may have problems because like the bumper sticker says, and excuse my reference, “stuff happens.” This however is the perfect opportunity to respond quickly, remedy the problem and shine in your customer’s eyes… show them why they paid more. Anybody will tell you it’s how you respond when something bad happens that counts.
Let’s assume your prospect is not kicking the tires and is ready to buy. If as a salesperson you have done your job and given them the product and/or service they are looking for at a price that meets their needs and resolved any trepidation they might have… if they like you they will buy and buy now. If for some reason they are not then it’s actually quite simple. You have not done a good job reading your customer’s “readiness” state, answered all their questions or put at ease any concerns they have. Keep in mind that you do have to “ask” for the sell (at the right time)… so many sales professionals simply do not ask. And prospects do not like to be “sold.” They like to be informed, treated respectfully and make educated decisions arriving to the conclusion themselves… that you already knew.
I would like to go on record and write that Sales in every industry is different, but there are common principles of which all sales professionals can agree upon. In writing this blog, I am making a lot of general assumptions irrespective of special circumstances or wild cards. I don’t know if I’ve made my case or not so let me summarize.
If they like you… they will likely be willing to pay more.
If they like you… they will give you time to get the answer they need.
If they like you… they will be willing to wait for the product and/or service to be delivered.
If they like you… they will expect the same level of service from your company and should receive it.
If they like you… they will buy when you ask for the sell because you’ve answered all their questions, removed any doubt and let them arrive to the same conclusion.
The craft of selling certainly involves more than what’s been written here and countless blogs and exchanges have been and will be written on the subject. How you say something, the words you use, using your own words instead of someone else’s, keeping it simple, timing, professional couth, etc. all play their part. I just happen to feel that “likeability” plays a larger part than most and this is just one salesperson’s opinion. And I welcome other perspectives on the matter. I’m open, willing to listen and welcome any feedback to get the collaborative juices flowing and thank you for the opportunity to learn from you as well.
And as with anything I write… my hope is that you’ll be able to take away just one thing that will help you or give you an idea of your own. Feel free to follow my RSS feed by clicking here.
In closing I do have just one question for you… are you likeable?
BY: Cory Prado