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Sales Myth – People Buy From People They Like

August 8, 2022

Sales myths and catch phrases are thrown around in trainings and casual conversations constantly.


If another person marches out the tired old sales myth “people buy from people they like.” I’m going to throw up in my mouth.  This phrase is the dumbest and most detrimental phrase to selling. It’s a shallow, stupid, simplistic thesis. A thesis one too many people use as the basis for their own selling philosophy.


Ya, ya, ya, people buy from people they like, no shit.  But what this phrase doesn’t say is people buy from people they don’t like and they DON’T buy from people they like.  The world is not zero sum. Just because someone likes you doesn’t mean they are gonna buy from you AND just because someone doesn’t like you, doesn’t mean they won’t buy from you.


When it comes to sales, buyers are not in the friend business.


They have enough friends. Buyers are in the improvement, growth, and opportunity business. Buyers need solutions that increase their ability to exceed their goals and crush it. Therefore, what buyers care more about than liking you is how much value can you and your product or service bring?


Sales Myths - Likability Matrix

Buyers want value and they don’t need to like you to see the value.


Without value, there is no scenario where a buyer buys from you simply because they like you. Think of it this way – you’re managing a team or a company and you recently hired a new person. Six months into their time working for you their work output is below average and shows no sign of improvement. This person is adored around the office, they’re funny, charming, charismatic – their work is just not moving the company forward, it may be hindering the company or teams output. You like this person but you know you still have to let them go, regardless of their likability. Why? Because their likability means shit when it comes to business value.


Spending time getting your prospect to like you is wasting valuable time you could spend demonstrating the value you and your organization can bring.


The objective of selling is to deliver value. That’s it. The more value you can bring, the more you will sell.


If people like you, great. It makes it easier. It gets you access. If you can’t deliver value, then it doesn’t matter if they think you’re the coolest person on the planet. They’ll have a beer with you. They will take your call. But, they ain’t buying shit.


If your buyer doesn’t like you, it’s OK. If you’re product or service delivers more value than the competition, if it can solve a pressing pain in the ass problem, then buyers will buy from you — period.  The majority of the things I’ve purchased over they years, I’ve purchased from people I don’t like.


Now, before you get all worked up defending this long-held belief you’ve had, let me say, you can’t be an asshole.  You can’t be a dick. There is a difference between not being liked and being an asshole.  No one wants to be around an asshole and if you’re an asshole stop it. If you’re an asshole, buyers will look for reasons not to do business with you, even if your product has value. But being a dick is different than just not being liked.

The premise that says, people buy from people they like is a sales myth. People buy from people who deliver the most value and if they happen to like you on top of that, it is gravy.


Stop worrying about whether or not your buyer likes you or other silly sales myths and focus your attention on value. Ask yourself how much value are you bringing to this person and make sure it’s a lot.


Value trumps likability EVERY time — be valuable, not liked.


If you or your sales team want to learn more about how to be a great salesperson reach out to our sales team.


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1 Comment

  1. Mark.S

    Great article Keenan, I would actually go a step further. In my 20 years of sales I have found that the person with the most complaints are typically the highest producers (car sales, mortgage lending, insurance). It’s because they ask for the sale…repeatedly. I signed up for your newsletter. Thanks for the info graphic, it made me laugh, truth is funny.


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