4 Reasons Being Likable Doesn’t Predict Whether You’ll Succeed in Sales
There’s a saying in sales: “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”
While this is totally true of prospects – we’ve all seen millionaires wearing dirty boots and driving beat-up old trucks – it’s also true about salespeople.
Just because someone has a friendly, likable personality doesn’t mean they’ll do a great job selling for your company.
When it comes to closing deals, there are many traits and personality types that you’ll need to identify in your prospective sales team. Unfortunately, many business owners and sales managers struggle to recognize the traits of salespeople who are unlikely to succeed at closing deals before they get hired.
In fact, if you ask salespeople what qualities make them effective at closing deals, most will tell you things like:
- Being likable
- Having a great sense of humor
- Their charming personality
- Being good at small talk
While those traits can help, they can also be a hindrance!
Most people find likability a highly desirable trait within themselves. Yet, according to the Harvard Business Review, being liked by your customers may not be the most important thing when it comes to getting them to buy from you.
We know that salespeople who are likable and trustworthy are more likely to get hired, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll bring in the sales for your business.
Here are 4 reasons why you should reconsider hiring sales staff based on their likable personality.
Makes It Harder to Get to the Bottom Line
Being liked is often a big advantage in sales because it makes it easier to get in the door. If a prospect enjoys spending time with you, they may be more willing to meet with you.
This can be a double-edged sword, though.
When you make people like you, you’re less likely to push them away. Often, salespeople who rely mostly on their personality to close the sale are too scared to push the prospect forward in a way that may be necessary but could make them come across as unlikable.
So while they may eventually get the sale. Most likely, it will take a lot longer to complete the sales cycle. And sales that take a long time to complete have a high probability of falling through…the longer you let it go on, the greater chance you’ll never be able to close that deal.
Being Likable Is Not a Business Asset
Businesses aren’t in the business of building a reputation as “likable people,” unless you’re in public relations.
Likability and personality aren’t what you sell, and it isn’t what your customers buy!
What they want is to work with you because of your unique talents, skills, knowledge, and experience.
They probably don’t care whether you’re likable or not. Their concern is whether you can be counted on to deliver the results they need. Your customers want accountability, follow through on promises, and most importantly, for your services and products to solve their problems.
Keep it professional, deliver excellent service, do the work…that’s what your customers are looking for, and what your sales team needs to provide them.
Being Liked Does Not Lead to More Sales
A salesperson can be likable – I’m not trying to say you should hire someone who is a total jerk – but they also must be an expert at selling.
This includes doing the “dirty work” of filling the prospect pipeline. Often, that means cold outreach.
Time and time again, we see salespeople with the most likable personalities struggle with this the most…they simply don’t want to get on the phones because it makes them feel unlikable, uncomfortable, and rejected (which is often the worst possible thing you can do to someone who is used to being liked).
They don’t make prospects, they make friends.
They’ll keep swinging by, bringing donuts and cracking jokes all in the hopes of closing the deal…without ever asking for the deal.
Prospects keep letting them in…after all, they enjoy hanging out with them but the sale will either not happen, or will take a loooong time to close.
Likability Does Not Guarantee Success
Being liked is not the same thing as being successful. Conversely, a lot of people who aren’t well-liked are ridiculously successful…sure we could both think of a few folks who fit this description.
Don’t confuse being liked and being successful!
We’ve all had friends who are charismatic, and people seem to really love hanging out with them. In fact, it’s often hard to keep from smiling while watching their interactions with others.
The reality of the situation is that charm and charisma don’t necessarily translate into sales success. Charisma is great when you’re a politician or a comedian, but it doesn’t help you close deals or work up the nerve to prospect.
What Your Business Needs in a Salesperson
Likability is a way to describe how people perceive you, but it’s also the way you view yourself. It’s a personality-based mindset some salespeople have.
Often, likable candidates are perceived as easy to get along with, which is why they are so attractive to hire. They seem easy, docile, like they’d make a good employee. Maybe you’d even think about going to happy hour with them or hanging out together for a BBQ.
But your sales team isn’t there to make friends and be easy to get along with….they’re there to sell.
You need someone who is able to comfortably and consistently fill your prospect pipeline, earn the trust of your customers, and communicate effectively. Someone who isn’t afraid to ask the tough questions when necessary, and can move the sales process to the inevitable “hell yes” that your business deserves.
The same characteristics that make a sales candidate likable may also be what leads to their failure as a member of your team. Remember, likability is not an indicator of success.
A study found that those who were considered more likable actually generated less business. Simply because they failed to close deals. While I’m sure they were great co-workers, in the end, they lacked the skills to win over potential customers.
The problem is easily solvable though – don’t rely on personality as your main metric when recruiting your sales team. Have a robust hiring strategy that looks at many facets of the candidates who apply.
And don’t immediately discount those candidates that you don’t feel an immediate “click” with. Often it’s their gruff resilience you’re picking up on. The exact kind of thing ideal salespeople need to succeed.
For more tips and hiring tricks, download my FREE guide > > Five Sales Interview Questions You Should be Asking Your Candidate (That You’re Probably Not).