5 Tips to Improve Your Likability: Win More Sales and Avoid Discounting

Feb. 12, 2016

You don’t have to like somebody to buy from them, but it helps. Not everybody who buys from you likes you, but it helps.

It’s important to be nice, but it’s better to be likable.

I remember telling my four kids when they were growing up, “It’s nice to be nice.” I told them, “Not everyone you meet is going to be nice, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be.”

I know people who are nice and phony; nice is nice, but only if it’s combined with genuine goodness. All my kids are grown now and they are not only nice, but good. If I were to raise my kids again, I would tell them, “It’s nice to be nice, but it’s better to be good.”

I know sales people who are good at selling, nice to customers and make a decent living. If you really want to make it big in our industry, it’s best to be nice, good and genuinely likable.

When I say “make it big,” I mean capturing the opportunity to serve a lot of people in your community. Of course, the more you serve, the more you sell; the more you sell the more money you can make. You deserve the sales success and financial reward if you truly serve your community.

Tips to being more likable

Keep these tips in mind when dealing with your customers:

  • Warmth matters. Don’t be afraid to open up; a warm greeting warms up a customer. When I go out to eat with my family, I’m always drawn to the server who offers a warm, personal greeting. I’m actually turned off by the server who approaches the table quickly and starts speed talking using the canned company greeting.
  • Pace and tone matter. The right approach with the right pace and tone makes all the difference. For example, “How are you folks tonight? We’re glad you’re here,” and then the company spiel.
  • Be positive for goodness’ sake. Hey, I’ve worked a retail sales counter for years, and I get it, the people and personalities who stand at the sales counter day after day can be a real adventure. Like I told my kids, not everybody you meet is going to treat you nice, and it’s up to you to decide how you want to live your life. As I’m getting older, I find it increasingly harder to be nice. The fact that I can feel the difference means there’s something inside of me wanting to withhold niceness, goodness and likability toward certain people; therefore, I must focus more effort to be positive. Being nice requires me to be less like the server who approaches my table treating me and others like cattle. I’m often too quick to judge, and my tone toward others suffers as a result.
  • Besides being warm and positive, it helps to stop trying to control the conversation by talking too much and listening too little. Most people love to talk about themselves; you and I included. Again, if you want to make it big in any sales and service position, then mastering the art of listening is essential. By “big,” I mean building a business where loyal customers return year after year.
  • Decades ago I learned two very important techniques about listening: listening to learn, and listening to ask. You can learn a lot by listening, but this advanced listening technique is most powerful. When listening, you’re learning the interests of people for the purpose of asking questions to stimulate their continued speaking about themselves and their experiences. I have a bad habit of while listening to others simultaneously thinking of what I want to share about myself and my experiences. I struggle to resist responding with a comment about myself. So instead, I ask a question to draw the speaker into further conversation about himself/herself. People, as I said earlier, love to talk about their favorite subject, themselves. If you allow them to do so, they will attribute you the title of “great conversationalist.”

So, Wayne, what does all this have to do with winning, losing and discounting? Well, if you are nice, good and positive, using the right tone and pace, you will win more sales. If you listen, you will win more sales. If you encourage others to speak about themselves, they will perceive you as more likable, and you’ll lose fewer sales and discount less frequently.

If you’re cold and negative and talk too much about yourself, customers will not be warm toward you, and you’ll either lose sales or be required to discount to keep customers.

If you’re discounting, you’re losing! Improve your likability and win! Winners win!   ■

Wayne Williams is president of ExSell Marketing Inc., a “counter intelligence” firm based in La Habra, Calif. He can be reached at [email protected].

For more Counter Intelligence articles, check out:

A Simple Technique to Compete with the Big Boys

Women Buy Tires, Too -- They Have the Numbers, the Influence and the Shopping Skills

Helpful Tips for Winners

About the Author

Wayne Williams

Tire retailing expert Wayne Williams was president of ExSell Marketing Inc. and longtime author of MTD’s popular “Counter Intelligence” column.