You’ve probably heard this one before, “People like to do business with people they like.” Sales trainer/author Jeffrey Gitomer puts it this way in the Sales Bible, “All things being equal, people prefer to do business with people they like. All things being not so equal, people still prefer to do business with people they like.” Both of those describe the psychological principle of persuasion known as “liking.”
But liking doesn’t just apply to business, it extends to pretty much everything. Think back to the last time you did something with other people. Did you think, “Hmm, who to I like least? I think I’ll call them to go to the movies (or dinner or golf, etc.).” Of course you didn’t, you called someone you enjoyed being around.
When we like people it’s natural to pick up the phone to call them for social or business reasons. So being likable can help you in lots of ways. I’m not talking rocket science here. When I interview people and I ask, “What’s the most important part of selling?” the answer I get most often is one simple word, “relationships.” If you’re not in a “one and done business” (i.e., car sales, homes, or other big ticket items), I tend to agree with that answer. In my business, insurance, our people do form long-term relationships with agents and CSRs so likability is huge.
I usually follow up my question with something like this, “If you get this job, and you’re getting ready for your first sales calls, what will be your strategy to build your relationships quickly?” This is where most interviewees fall flat. They know their current customers like them but they don’t really know why. If they don’t understand that, then building strong relationships quickly is a matter of hit or miss. If they do understand what causes people to like them, then they can look for ways to tap into that and get those new relationships off to a good start.
First and foremost, we like people who are like us. That can encompass many things such as where you’re from, favorite sports teams, similar interests or backgrounds, to name a few. Once you notice something you have in common it is incumbent upon you to tap into that by speaking up.
I always think of my wife, Jane, when it comes to this. If you’ve ever met her then you now she’s a diehard Steelers fan!! When I was a kid I hated the Steelers…with a passion…but, after 21 years of marriage and a lot of football, I’ve become a fan too. What Jane is so good at is connecting with people. It doesn’t matter where we are in the country, if someone has Steelers sportswear on she’ll say, “Go Steelers!” Quite often that leads to conversation which would lead you to believe Jane and the stranger had known each other for years.
And it’s not just the Steelers. Once, while having a drink at Cheers in Boston, she overheard someone talking and recognized the accent as being from Southwest Pennsylvania. She asked about it, was correct, and a conversation followed.
Those were simple things any of us can do, if we take the initiative. If we see something we can connect with, we need to simply raise it to the surface and let nature take its course. The other important point to note is, when you talk about what you have in common it usually elicits good feelings. As people come to associate those good feelings with you, that’s where liking happens. That’s when they start thinking of you when they have a need or want to do something social.
In the coming weeks we’ll look at others ways you can tap into the principle of liking. Now here’s the really cool thing; if you try the things I teach you, not only will people come to like you more, you’ll actually like them more as well. And who knows, that could lead to some new friendships along the way.