Selling is an individual activity. Sure, sometimes a ‘team selling’ approach is appropriate, but even then it relies on each individual seller doing their part well.
Because of this focus on individual performance it’s extremely important for a Sales Manager to keep an eye on the personal communication behaviours of their team.
Most people in sales would like to be perceived as the likable “trusted advisor” to their clients. In a study by UCLA the subjects in the study rated over 500 descriptions of people based on their perceived significance to likeability. The top descriptors were sincerity, transparency, and capable of understanding (another person).
10 factors that reduce your likeability
On the other hand, avoiding the behaviours that make you less likeable is equally important. Emotional Intelligence expert Dr Travis Bradbury has identified ten factors to avoid if you want to be maximise your likeability, listed below. I have added my tip for sellers to help apply these factors to sales situations.
These are relevant for sellers who want to build stronger relationships with clients.
1) Name dropping – Instead of making you look interesting, it makes people feel as though you’re insecure and overly concerned with having them like you.
Tip for sellers: Only use “names” when it is clearly helping the client see the reason or value of what you are explaining. Don’t drop names to make yourself look better.
2) Emotional high-jacking – An emotional hijacking demonstrates low emotional intelligence. As soon as you show that level of instability, people will question whether or not you’re trustworthy and capable of keeping it together when it counts.
Tip for sellers: This should never happen in a sales situation. Professional sellers maintain composure at all times when with clients.
3) Humble-bragging – Those people who like to brag about themselves behind the mask of self-deprecation. While many people think that self-deprecation masks their bragging, everyone sees right through it. It’s also an attempt to deceive.
Tip for sellers: If you need to explain your credentials or experience do it in an honest, confident and upfront sort of way that makes the client feel comfortable. Don’t pretend to be humble with the intention of trying to impress.
4) Whipping out your phone – Nothing turns someone off to you like a mid-conversation text message or even a quick glance at your phone. When you commit to a conversation, focus all of your energy on the conversation.
Tip for sellers: Technology, including phones, should always be a tool not a distraction. Only use your phone if it is necessary to show or explain something to your client. And even then, preface your action by saying what you will do. Don’t start using your phone before the client knows why you are doing it.
5) Having a closed mind – No one wants to have a conversation with someone who has already formed an opinion and is unwilling to listen. Having an open mind is crucial in the workplace, where approachability means access to new ideas and help.
Tip for sellers: Always strive to explore – discover what you don’t already know.
6) Not asking enough questions – The biggest mistake people make in conversation is being so focused on what they’re going to say next or how what the other person is saying is going to affect them that they fail to hear what’s being said. A simple way to avoid this is to ask a lot of questions. People like to know you’re listening.
Tip for sellers: Use the SOX question strategy to ask the best questions at the right time. Use the questions to create a productive conversation rather than a boring monologue or worse, an interrogation.
7) Being too serious – It’s easy for passionate people to come across as too serious or uninterested, because they tend to get absorbed in their work. Likeable people balance their passion for their work with their ability to have fun.
Tip for sellers: Judge the situation to determine how serious, passionate or light-hearted you need to be. Every client is different. Every day is different.
8) Gossiping – People make themselves look terrible when they get carried away with gossiping. It is guaranteed to make you look negative and spiteful every time.
Tip for sellers: Never gossip. Full stop.
9) Sharing too much too early – Be careful to avoid sharing personal problems and confessions too quickly. Over-sharing comes across as self-obsessed and insensitive to the balance of the conversation.
Tip for sellers: Be more likeable by gradually sharing more about yourself, based on how the client is responding to you. Remember, once you have over-shared you cannot take it back and you instantly undermine your own likeability.
10) Sharing too much on social media – Studies have shown that people who over-share on social media do so because they crave acceptance, but the Pew Research Center has revealed that this over-sharing works against them by making people dislike them.
Tip for sellers: Be careful about where and when you share your views and activities. Sellers are in the spotlight because they meet lots of people, so it’s part of your responsibility to manage your public profile.
The take-away for Sales Managers
It can be hard for individual sellers to see themselves as others do. And sometimes unfavourable behavioural traits develop over time and have gone unnoticed by the individual. So, it’s up to you in your sales coaching and management role, to:
- Keep an eye on the specific selling and communication behaviours being used (this may require spending more time with sellers on sales calls to observe first-hand what they actually do)
- Observe and identify any self-defeating patterns of behaviour
- Create sales coaching opportunities where you can raise and explore those patterns of behaviour
- Help your sellers to identify more appropriate behavioural habits to maximise their relationships with clients (and possibly with other staff members)
- Review the progress of your team member of hold them accountable for making improvements
If you would like to request a complimentary discussion on how to manage the performance of your business-to-business or technical sales team please get in touch.