Everyone likes to do business with people they like and when given a choice, we avoid doing business with people we don’t like. Marketing expert Rohit Bhargava claims that in some instances, likeability can trump professional expertise in business situations. In his 2012 book, “Likeonomics: The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust, Influencing Behavior and Inspiring Action”, he explains how we all can become more likeable ourselves.
In “Likeonomics” Bhargava, who led a marketing team at the global ad agency Ogilvy, where he worked with clients such as Intel and Pepsi and who now teaches global marketing strategy at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., discusses why some companies and people are more believable than others and why likeability is integral to being trusted, obtaining and retaining customers and making money. He reveals five characteristics that make businesses and individuals more likeable to clients and customers: Truth, Relevance, Unselfishness, Simplicity and Timing, neatly embodied in the acronym TRUST.
Likeability differs from niceness. Those two adjectives have similarities, but if you think about it, you’ll realize that they are not exactly interchangeable. For example, nice people don’t like to upset anyone or contradict the prevailing opinion. To avoid rocking the boat, nice people may not always tell the truth. They like to go with the flow.
Nice people prefer to gloss over the uncomfortable truth because they loathe confrontation and don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings . Nice people want to liked. Don’t get me wrong, I like nice people. I like people who don’t want to hurt my feelings. The problem is, nice people are often shallow people. In my experience, nice people do not have a backbone, they definitely don’t have your back and in fact, nice people are not ashamed to stand by and watch your enemies stab you in yours.
On the other hand, likeable people usually value the truth. In fact, likeable people can sometimes be rather blunt as they point out the truth of a situation. Likeable people tend to be transparent and for that reason they earn trust. According to Bhargava, trust and believability are at the foundation of being liked. They are the basis of our most successful relationships.
Bhargava goes on to say that likeability is not the exclusive domain of extroverts and neither is it a personality contest. Likeability is about being warm and approachable, not about being chatty and outgoing. When one is warm and approachable, it is not necessary to engage in nonstop small talk in an effort to win someone over.
To be likeable, all you have to do is be receptive to whom you meet and open to the conversation you’re having. Be interested in the person you’re speaking with. Listen and respond accordingly. Believe it or not, an excellent way to convince others that you are a great conversationalist is to listen and let the other person talk.
Bhargava further recommends that you keep your marketing message and sales pitch simple because that’s what people will respond to best. Simple is easy to understand and navigate and evaluate and that is very important to busy people (like you and me!). When speaking, limit technical jargon and fifty dollar words. Don’t try to impress clients and prospects with your stunning vocabulary and encyclopedic knowledge. Instead, use clear and simple language, to ensure that your message is understood and no one feels confused or intimidated (this is not to be confused with dumbing things down).
Finally, be honest and transparent about the services and products that you offer and your ability to meet the client’s needs. As badly as you may need a contract in order to pay your bills, it is far better for your professional reputation to turn down a contract if you know you cannot do the job. Honesty demonstrates integrity, creates respect and goodwill and will persuade that client to bring you in at another time to discuss a project for which you are qualified.
“Likeability is a skill—it is something we all universally can work on get better at”, notes Bhargava. Like the saying goes: People do business with people they know and like. They do more business with people they trust and respect.
Thanks for reading,