Sunday, March 15, 2009

Would You Rather be Liked or Seen as Competent by Your Customer?

A big debate has been taking place for some time now in the sales community on how important it actually is to be "liked" by your customers. Others argue that competency is more important. So what is it? Would you rather be liked or seen as competent by your customer?

First, let me state that I feel both of these areas are critical to making a sale happen. In a perfect world, there is no question that I would like to have both of these things going for me with a customer. This is especially true for salespeople who work with customers who purchase on an ongoing basis.

If you put a gun to my head, however, I would have to say that competency is more important. Why - you might ask? The fact of the matter is that a sale takes place because you end up reducing expenses, recovering lost revenue, increasing productivity, or making life simpler for your customer. If a customer legitimately believes that you are impacting these areas, it is hard for them not to pull the trigger on the deal - even in the face of not liking you personally.

That being said, let me again state that being liked personally is important, too. If the deal between you and a competitor is real close, this can make the difference. However, at the end of the day, business is about making money - not making friends. Never forget that.


Ian Brodie said...

Hi Will,

In my particular business, I believe that being liked is more important than being viewed as highly skilled (I use that phrase as opposed to "competent" - as I think basic competence is a necessity to even being in business).

The difference between selling a product and selling a professional service is that when you've bought the product the salesperson goes; when you've bought a professional service the "salesperson" stays as they're also the person who'll deliver the service.

If I'm buying a product I can put up with a salesperson I dislike because I know they'll soon be out fo my life. But if I'm buying a professional service I face the prospect of having to work with that person - often day in day out - for an extended period of time. Given that prospect I'd rather buy from a reasonably skilful person I like than a highly skilled person I dislike (unless the work is highly technically demanding - in which case I'd look hard for both).


From the Author: Will Fultz said...


I agree that being liked is extremely important for those who deal with customers on an ongoing basis. Thanks for your comment.

Will Fultz