I got into sales in 1989 selling temporary and regular staffing, or placement services, to large and mid-sized businesses. I had no formal sales training but I knew that I could connect with people, getting to know them, allowing them to get to know me, and somehow that always led to business.
I have always been curious about the quality we call, “Likeability.” It’s an elusive X-factor that I assumed you either had or you didn’t. Some call it charm. Some call it persuasiveness. I just always considered it likeability…or unlikeability. That quality someone had that immediately made you like or dislike them.
I wondered if it was teachable? What made someone more likable than others? If I could break it down into activities or behaviors, then surely it could be teachable. While it may take considerable effort for some, for others these qualities come more natural.
Qualities of Likeability
1. The ability to really listen to another person. Not a faked listening activity in sales where you know someone is going down their list just checking off the questions but not paying attention to your answers.
2. To show interest in others and be curious about them and their work. To really want to know more about them. To want to learn something.
3. To have a sense of humor…even a dry one. It’s just harder to like someone who is intense or too serious.
4. To be confident in conversations…not awkward. Confidence is a deep quality that encompasses so much, but when you know your industry, products or services, and a little bit of knowledge about everything else, it goes a long way in being able to confidently jump into conversations and find connecting tissue with others. I call this the USA Today Confidence.
The hardest nuts for me to crack back in my sales days were the impersonal ones that wouldn’t allow me to set that needed appointment where I could learn enough about them and then charm them into that next lunch appointment. There I would listen to them pour out their frustrations about their jobs and life, and then I would explain how I was going to help make those frustrations go away with our staffing solutions.
Trust was then built through proving ourselves. Sure in big proposals we submitted case studies and references, but only a few would call and check references. For the most part, people were trusting us based on the relationships we established. Based on our likeability.
The world is much different today. Google allows people to research your products and services before they ever contact you to buy. They can get to know you and like you, or dislike you, online. Trust can still be established through testimonials, on your website or social platforms. You can show social proof of your trustworthiness through the number of people who engage or share your content, whether you are asked to share your knowledge on larger platforms and if you have enough content out there that shows you are indeed an expert in your field.
If you take the four qualities or characteristics from our face-to-face sales skills and apply them to today’s online sales and marketing environment, pretty much, the same activities or behaviors apply.
Here’s how to be more likeable online:
1. The ability to really listen to another person.
2. Are you taking time to read someone’s bio and perhaps the things they have taken the time to write on their social media profiles. You can learn a lot by checking out someone’s LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook profiles. I love when I find a prospective client on Instagram, because there can be something very intimate about the images people share there. What can people learn about you from your profiles? Are you sharing things that make you LIKEABLE? Do you have content that proves your trustworthiness or expertise?
3. To show interest in others and be curious about them and their work. Take the time to connect and ask a question or two after reading their profiles. What connecting tissues do you see? Is it where they live or grew up? Is there something in their work history that you are curious about? Now look at your own profiles. Do they cause someone to want to know more? Do they draw people in and show an interesting side of you that causes them to want to connect? If you are posting about how fabulously perfect and glamorous your life is, people may not be able to connect or relate. Be sure you are sharing your true you. To use an OVERUSED phrase, “Be authentic.” (That sounds so much like an American Idol saying, but it’s true.)
4. To have a sense of humor…even a dry one. Remember, it’s harder to connect with someone who is intense or overly serious. I am not talking about sharing corny or potentially inappropriate jokes or comics on your profile. I’m talking about your unique observations or take on things. The way you reply to someone or what is shared in your content. Don’t leave your personality at the door.
5. To be confident in conversations. Social media allows you to shine here since there is so much information that you can subscribe to and read. Be sure you are following and regularly reading blogs and social media posts from the industry experts in your space. Be sure to set up lists and follow industry news for your clients and potential clients. And be sure to follow the USA Today on Twitter.
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