Sales Tips: Why Being Nice isn’t Enough


Share on LinkedIn

Nice Guys BlogNice guys don’t necessarily get the sale.

If only I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a sales manager say, “His prospects and customers love him, but he just can’t close,” or a salesperson says, “I’m feeling really good about winning this sale. The customer LOVES me.”

Niceness doesn’t pay your mortgage.

It’s often said that people buy from someone they like. If you believe that to be true, it would make sense that the nicer the person, the greater their chances of success in selling. So how come some of the most likeable people I’ve ever met have been complete and total failures as salespeople? The truth is, buyers can love you but still not buy from you. Unfortunately, in sales, love only matters when it’s accompanied by a check and an executed agreement.

Niceness isn’t a compartment of decision criteria.

You see, most buyers want to make the best decision possible for the money they have to spend. When examining alternatives, buyers have four compartments of information they evaluate. In simple terms, they are product, price, support, and the company. The idea is compare their current situation to competing alternatives, and determine whether or not one of these alternatives represents enough impact for them to spend money and make a change.

Notice the four compartments of evaluation don’t include niceness of the salesperson. Niceness only matters when there are no significant differences in the other four compartments. Hey, I get it. If all else is equal in terms of product, price, support, and company, who wouldn’t buy from a nicer person? What that really means, though, is no one could prove his or her solutions were any better.

Lots of salespeople are nice.

The problem is there are a bunch of nice people in the sales profession. That means a nice person almost always loses. If four nice people compete, three nice people lose. Do you really want to get into a battle of ‘niceness?’ Do you really want to try and prove you are nicer and/or more lovable than another sales person?

The truth is ‘niceness’ has little to do with sales success. Hey, I’m not submitting you can be a total jerk and reach your full potential in this profession, but I am saying that being ‘nice,’ in the traditional sense, only matters when you and others have failed to prove your solutions bring greater value in any other area. Even then, you may win the ‘niceness’ battle but lose the sale.

Be careful, you’ll get beaten by lots of people not nearly as nice as you.

Unfortunately, there are many who try to rely on nothing more than being friends with their buyers to build a relationship. Every day, people who aren’t nearly as likeable beat these well-meaning folk. They may make a friendship but lose a sale.

Customers aren’t buying a smiling face. They are buying impact on what they are trying to accomplish as a business. That means that a person who isn’t necessarily personable, is less friendly, even less likable that you, simply has to prove their solution does more for the buyer’s business than yours. Trust me, the moment that happens, nicer people are loved and thanked for their kindness, then quickly shown the door. The harsh reality is people are more likely to buy from someone they like less, but trust will get the job done.

Likeability comes from IMPACT, not just being nice.

Ok, so I believe in being nice. To me, it’s so much easier than being a jerk and, in general, makes the world a more pleasant and better place.

So after all I’ve written, what really makes someone more likeable to a buyer? Is it being nice? Good manners? Being polite? Having a sense of humor? Friendliness? It depends on the buyer. Some care about these things, some don’t. With these characteristics and traits, niceness and likeability are relative. So is it possible to remove relativity and consistently be viewed as more likeable to your buyers? Could ‘niceness’ and ‘likeability’ be redefined so they are important to every buyer?

You bet. I want to be liked, but for the right reasons.

If you, too, want to be loved AND win the sale, focus on the following:

  1. Understand your buyer’s organization better than your competitors.
  2. Know their vision, goals, plans, strengths and weaknesses.
  3. Find ways in which you have greater, measurable impact on what they are trying to accomplish as a business.
  4. Focus on identifying gaps in their business performance and finding ways in which to close them.
  5. Understand their buying criteria and help them identify and build criteria they may have missed.
  6. Stop thinking about winning the sale and focus on helping the buyer make the best decision possible.
  7. Identify the measurable, negative impact your buyers are experiencing and help them determine why it’s happening.
  8. Demonstrate in meaningful, measurable terms why and how your solutions have a greater impact.

If you focus on these areas, I guarantee your customers will love you AND buy from you.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Bob Nicols
Bob Nicols serves as Founder and CEO of AXIOM. He has 34 years of experience in sales, sales management, executive management and sales force development. He has managed and mentored thousands of sales people, sales managers and senior managers and been responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. For more than 21 years he has developed and delivered sales programs that have become the standard for many Fortune 100 companies including AT&T, BellSouth, Disney Enterprises, Alltel, Verizon and ESPN.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here