If you're trying to make people like you, you're missing the point
Every time you pitch an idea to your boss, or go on a date, or meet someone new at a networking event, you're essentially selling your ideas and your personality: Pick me, pick me!
Which is why it matters to all of us when a go-to sales strategy comes into question. In this case, that strategy is getting your customer to like you.
According to the psychologist Robert Cialdini, getting your customers to like you is a fine way to encourage them to do business with you. But it's not nearly as effective as getting your customers to think that you like them.
Cialdini is a professor emeritus of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University, the CEO and president of Influence at Work, and the author of the new book "Pre-Suasion." In the book, he highlights some of the hidden psychological factors that influence our everyday behavior.
When he visited the Business Insider office in September, Cialdini said many of the sales training programs he observed while researching the book had "get your customer to like you" as their No. 1 rule. But he explained:
"Here's the No. 1 rule [of sales]: Get yourself to like your customer or the person that you are trying to influence.
As soon as they recognize that you like them, all the defenses come down because they know that you will be motivated to give them the best possible information, the best set of options because that's what we do for the people we like."
One way to make it clear that you like someone, Cialdini said, is simply to find something you like about them and comment on it. Maybe it's the confident way they delivered a presentation; or maybe it's their impeccable fashion sense. As long as it's something you genuinely admire, let them know.
Another strategy is to find something you have in common with them, like your favorite hobby or your hometown.
"Once you recognize that you and that person have commonalities, you feel a bond, a connection to that individual as a consequence," Cialdini said.
Ultimately, Cialdini added, "they're going to like you to the extent that you like them," which strongly determines their willingness to do business with you.
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