Being Liked vs. Being Valued

March 16, 2010

The entire concept of “relationship” is being radically re-created today.  Last year, I wrote a post asking if what salespeople were doing under the banner of “relationship selling” wasn’t more akin to what I call “acquaintance-ship selling.” In the last year, I’ve had lots of conversation on this topic and I’m more convinced than ever that the post is totally on-point.

What I’ve realized is that traditionally sales “relationships” were about being “liked.”  Salespeople were good guys and gals.  They were easy to get along with.  They made customers feel good.  They took people to ball games and had big(ish) entertainment budgets.  I remember sitting in a Tom Hopkins Boot Camp and reciting that my job as a salesperson was to get them to “like me and trust me” first and foremost.

The challenge is that being liked is nowhere near enough today.  In a world of zero discretionary budgets, if salespeople (and selling organizations) want a customer’s attention they must be valued.  And there’s a HUGE difference between being liked and being valued.

While by no means mutually exclusive, you can be valued and liked, these two attributes must be prioritized.  If the goal is to be liked first and valued second (which by the way is the old school style – I’ll get them to like me then I’ll get them to value me), the behaviors will not support what’s needed to drive profitable growth today.  You’ll be less likely to challenge or provoke.  When the customer asks for a quote, you’ll be less likely to tell them they are not ready for a quote, and so on.  You’ll be deemed irrelevant and, at best, you’ll be positioned to “catch” opportunities that happen to fit.

When you focus on being valued first and liked second, you’re far more likely to take on the behaviors to create demand.  Rather than waiting for customers to tell you what they need, you’ll provoke their awareness.  You’ll dig deeper, even if the customer is uncomfortable. You’ll talk to the people in the buyer’s organization that need to be talked to, even though your contact didn’t like the idea, and you’ll withstand the pressure of closing too soon, even though your customer is asking for a proposal.

Being valued means risking, even for a few moments, not being liked.  Going forward, the only business relationships that will matter will be the ones where you’re highly valued, even if they like someone else a little more.

What can you do to increase the true value of your relationships?

Filed Under Sales Strategy, Selling Skills | | Blog Home

Comments

20 Responses to “Being Liked vs. Being Valued”

  1. Dan Collins says:

    Excellent. The true professional that we all seek out provides a differentiated value add to our lives (both business and personal.) This person is usually the one that recognizes that the best practice (and solution) they provide is by it’s very definition what others can’t or won’t provide. This means doing more, digging deeper and yes, as you point out, often creating cognitive dissonance and discomfort. Great post Doug.

  2. Dan,

    Thanks for joining the conversation here – it’s a pleasure to hear from you. I’ve always found that one big difference between great salespeople and ones that struggle is the ability to be comfortable with the customer becoming uncomfortable from time to time.

    I look forward to hearing more of you thoughts.

  3. Randy Hall says:

    Doug,

    Great perspective. I don’t think I’ve ever helped anyone accomplish real progress or meaningful change without making them uncomfortable at one point or another. I’m usually called when people want to make some changes in how they do things so my value isn’t in keeping them comfortable. They can do that all by themselves.

    If salespeople can gain confidence in the value they bring to the table they won’t worry as much about the comfort level along the way.

    Thanks for making us think,

    Randy

  4. Randy, Thanks for the comment. You’re right on target – I really think it’s a confident thing much more than a skill thing.

  5. Elaine Spitz says:

    Doug, this is a great post for me, as today has been one of those days and your assessment is right on. With instruction like yours, today will no double be a good day from here on in. It’s about the value first!
    Thanks!

  6. Great read – having just started a new sales position, it’s always tempting to focus on the “being liked” part of sales. What I try to remember is that if I am SOLVING a problem for a client, I will will be liked and valued, so I try to focus on solving vs. just selling!

    Thanks!

  7. Elaine – glad it helped. Keep me posted how things go.

    Kasey – I heard and congrats on the new job. Remember, the more your valued the more you’ll be liked. Let me know how the new position goes!

  8. Excellent. The true professional that we all seek out provides a differentiated value add to our lives (both business and personal.) This person is usually the one that recognizes that the best practice (and solution) they provide is by it’s very definition what others can’t or won’t provide. This means doing more, digging deeper and yes, as you point out, often creating cognitive dissonance and discomfort. Great post Doug.
    +1

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  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

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