What’s the number #1 reason that customers give for purchasing from someone?
It’s not price or convenience.
Think about your own purchases. Have you ever seen a car you liked, interacted with a sales person, but couldn’t pull the trigger? Something about the salesperson was distasteful. You couldn’t put your finger on it, but you didn’t like him.
Or remember the trip to your local electronic store to buy a new computer or TV. Some young smarmy guy saunters beside you, spilling product knowledge all over you, but never listening, kind of creeping you out. You couldn’t do it. You walked.
I’ve written on creating marketing strategies to drive people into your business, but all the marketing savvy is worthless if your personality turns off the customer when he arrives at your door.
Can you become more likable?
And it doesn’t matter where you are on the likability scale, this is one area where we can constantly improve. In fact, start this exercise by asking people you trust to be honest where you rank on the likable scale from 1 to 10. Then you know where to go, and how to improve.
Here are some tips:
1. Them Not You. Focus on the other person. Don’t spill out your expertise or knowledge on to them. Ask questions about them (and not with the intention of them asking the same thing back). Act interested, and followup with more questions.
2. Build Rapport. Rapport is not always easy, but the quickest way to build rapport is to look for commonality. When you meet someone or go into their home or office, begin looking or asking for areas of commonality. Look for those pictures of kids, sports team logos, hints about hobbies, anything that you can grab onto. Maybe you are not interested in some of those things. They don’t know that, and remember it’s not about you, it’s about them.
3. Humor. Laughing with a person creates likability almost instantly. Sometimes the best thing to laugh at is yourself. Especially if you find yourself nervous in a social interaction. If you forget something or misspeak, you can laugh about it, and make the other person laugh as well. Collecting funny stories or remembering humorous experiences from your life to pepper conversation is one way to improve.
Years ago I walked into an insurance agent’s office, and could tell he was on a difficult call with a customer. I didn’t know the man well, and was a little nervous about the conversation. He hung up the phone in frustration, and before jumping into my spiel, I asked about the call. He related the story of a customer misunderstanding something that should have been simple.
I laughed and told him a similar story from my own experience with a funny ending: a customer calling to remove his car from his policy—the blue one (oh, with a gold stripe).
Then we both laughed and the interaction opened up into a positive outcome.
4. Smile. This works even on the phone, and has become trite advice these days. I have even seen mirrors propped next to people’s phone saying “They can hear your smile.”
But it’s true.
The crazy thing about smiling is that it makes you happier, in turn, becoming infectious to the people you encounter.
Many days, I drag myself out of bed, into the shower, into my car, sitting, waiting to walk into my first appointment, forcing myself into a couple goofy smiles in my car rearview mirror, and instantly I feel a little happier and more energetic.
5. Make Them Comfortable. Sometimes you may notice, that it is not you that is nervous and unsure, but the customer. Do what you can to make them comfortable. Give them a cup of coffee, but them in a comfortable seat. Walk around with them. Anything. Give assurances and set expectations, because they may be scared or worried about something.
6. Know Their Style. This one takes practice, but it can help immensely. Have you come to the place in life that you realize not everyone is like you? Sad, isn’t it. The world would be such a better place, but probably incredibly boring if that was true.
There are multiple resources out there on social styles, and most group everyone into one of four quadrants such as Drivers, Amiables, Analytics, or Expressives. Every resource may use different terms but they are similar.
This doesn’t mean everyone can be so easily pigeon-holed, but we all have dominant traits and these labels help understand how we interact with the world. Knowing these and then trying to match your style to what you determine is another’s can create a deep sense of likability.
Good news: We are all likable or we wouldn’t have customers, but becoming more likable can help all your interactions and will help you improve every sales encounter.
Have you done anything over your career to become more likeable? Do you have any humorous stories about unlikable sales-people?