There is no question one of the strongest traits of being a great salesperson is to be liked. Make a person feel special and they will like you. It’s just that simple.

In fact, understanding likeability is so important it has allowed me to predict who would be president since I was 14. Once the pack gets down to about six candidates, I can tell you who will win. I don’t make my pick by party association; I pick by choosing the candidate who is interesting, seems sincere, seems to care most about others and gives the most confidence about the future.

What I have just described to you is the perfect “Trusted Sales Advisor.” If you’ve followed my column over the years or read my training manuals, you know that my list of the top categories of salespeople in order are: politicians, lawyers, preachers and then salespeople.

Notice all the people on that list are those who are well-spoken, and want and need people to like them. People in general like others who let them speak more than the salesperson. They like others who are complimentary; they love to talk about themselves, their family, their friends, their kids and—my favorite—their pets.

So, as salespeople, why are we so quick to talk about products and current sales?

Watch and Learn

A big part of me being a sales trainer is observing how the greats do it. All advertising on TV, print, radio and now the Internet is to sell you something. Watch what the successful companies do when they advertise. My advertising professor in college had a saying: “Make ’em laugh, make ’em cry, make ’em love, make ’em empathize, make ’em feel good, make ’em smarter, make ’em feel proud and, most of all, make ’em like you.”

The most successful ads today are not about 50% off or buy one get three free; they don’t mention price or anything negative about the competition. Target runs ads that are fun and make you feel good. Progressive has Flo who seems like a fun person. Allstate makes you feel wiser. Aflac has a duck that subtlety proves a point while driving brand name recognition into your memory. Many companies show you how they are a friend to the community, and to charities. But all of them stop short of selling by price.

This should show all those who think their competition is beating them by low price alone that their competition is beating them because they don’t understand what selling really is.

Since I’m a real animal lover, one of my favorite commercials is the one with clips of two different types of animals having a great time with each other. I even like the background music. If the maker of that commercial would do a better job at name recognition I’d probably buy anything they had to sell. I can remember the line, but not the company or brand.

Here’s another example how likeability sells. My wife and I are building a home. So my wife has been doing a lot of footwork to find the various subcontractors and products for both the inside and outside of the house. Often, she’ll tell me she talked to a salesperson on the phone and then say, “This [person] was so nice and knowledgeable.” When I ask her what the store’s pricing structure is, she says. “I’m not sure, but I’m sure they are reasonable.” Obviously the salesperson made her feel so good and confident, she felt comfortable pursuing the product or service. Jokingly, I always say, “Of course they are nice if they’re good salespeople, but they’re not as nice as me. I made a sale to you that will last a lifetime.”

Keep it Real

One thing that bothers me about the perception of salespeople is, if they are friendly and helpful, it’s because all they want to do is make a sale. Essentially, they are slick phonies trained in the art of deception. Unfortunately, there are great salespeople who are that way, but fortunately, most of us are not.

Being sincere about what you sell is honest and ethical, and makes people like you. Just make sure you work on getting to like your customer as well as them liking you.

When I first got into sales, I realized most of the great ones were slick phonies. So, I had a choice to make: Either get out of sales, or figure out how to do it ethically. That’s why my first training manual was called “Selling Clean,” meaning not selling dirty. It’s to help you improve your people skills; that is how to make people feel good and how to make them like you.

Remember to please be sincere about it, and say and do things you honestly feel. Shallow, fake compliments and pretending to be a good listener to make your buyer feel good only gives our profession the bad rap it often deserves.

Being sincere about what you sell is honest and ethical, and makes people like you. Just make sure you work on getting to like your customer as well as them liking you. I’ve often noted 90% of selling is being liked; the other 10% is using your product knowledge skills to help your new friend make a wise and successful purchase.

Just in case you’re not at 100% on all your likeability and product knowledge skills, my training manuals are always available through the ad that accompanies my columns. I’m proud and sincere in knowing what I offer will help you. In short I make you richer, and you like me more. Plus they are great holiday gifts for your sales staff.

Thanks for reading.