The Likeability Factor in Retail
Customers Buy From People They Like
Customers don’t buy rationally or logically. They buy emotionally. Logic makes us shop. Logic demands we do price comparisons, shop various offers, and do our homework, then think about it before we make our buying decision. In an earlier Segment, we talked about the recent studies showing so much more online research activity by a Customer before they ever enter a store. As retailers, logic is not our ally.
When customers shop, they often deal with two basic fears—the fear of making a mistake and the fear of being “sold” something. These fears are born out of past experiences from other retailers. It is what drives Customers to be more logical in their approach.
However, emotions make us buy. All the research (and logic) in the world will go quickly out the window whenever a Customer begins to emotionally connect to you, your store and the merchandise you are selling. The best way to begin to connect to your Customers emotions is to make the first sale. Remember, the first sale you have to make is of yourself. The best way to do this is to be likeable. People want to do business with people they like.
So what’s the problem? When was the last time you were taught about the steps it takes to be likeable? How much business are you losing by not learning how to be likeable in retail? Think about it honestly. Have you ever truly focused on being likeable? Or have you simply always thought you are?
There are a number of concrete rules which can be trained and mastered to make yourself (or anyone on your team) more likeable. It is important to understand that there have been many studies showing that attractive people are naturally more likeable. However, there are many beautiful people who simply intimidate and turn people off, as well. Remember, it does not matter what your physical appearance is (except that you are neat and clean, of course) if you understand the rules of likeability, you can do very, very well.
Making yourself likeable is the number one way to sell yourself and ultimately your merchandise, and there are specific guidelines and tools that can be followed and used to make yourself more likeable. Here are 13 ways to be likeable that ultimately lead to customer loyalty.
- Enthusiasm: Be enthusiastic in what you do.
- Smile: A smile is the quickest path to likeability. Sometimes we need to push that smile out, even when we don’t want to, but it makes a difference.
- Helpful: Pitch in and do more; everyone likes positive self-starters.
- Patient: Everyone learn in different ways and in different speeds. The people who are patient are also more likeable, wouldn't you agree?
- Happy: Happy people make us happy. There is nothing worse than being with someone who you know will die of terminal seriousness. A friendly, magnanimous person is engaging and someone we want to be around. Traditionally, salespeople are not someone we want to be around—unless they are likeable that is.
- Interested in Others: Good salespeople don’t talk about themselves, they talk about the customer. The best sales process includes Researching the customer's wants, interests, needs, concerns and desires. Sell from the customer's point of view. Let it be their decision and not yours.
- Be Flexible: Be flexible in your thinking. Although we might respect their position, rigid people are not necessarily the most likeable people. Customers always have special requests and desires that don not fit neatly into your store's polices and procedures. This trait may require an examination of your store's return policy. It's hard to be happy when delivering bad news.
- The Ability to Ignore: Sometimes people make stupid and hurtful statements, and the best thing to do is to ignore not criticize them. A likeable sales professional has to let things roll off his or her back.
- Communicate in Their Style: Match how you talk to your customer. If he speaks slowly, respond by speaking slowly. If she likes using examples, then respond with examples. Go at the pace of your customer not yours. Too often, salespeople rapid fire features at a customer and they become overwhelmed. This happens when we don't match their style. Some customer want to go fast.
- Give the the Silent Compliment: Ask for someone’s opinion. Doing this will signal to her that you respect and appreciate her point of view and advice and increase your likeability. People who want to know what I think are people I tend to like, don't you?
- The Rule of Reciprocity: If you give something to somebody, he will generally like you. It could be as simple as offering a piece of hard candy at a checkout counter. A free gift with a purchase always works. Or even better, a compliment on their buying process.
- The Rule of Relevance: There is nothing more annoying than dealing with someone who lives in the past. This applies to anyone, old or young, who loves to talk about a past employer, a past vacation, a past spouse, or a past anything. Don’t gab about past; be in the moment and be current. It makes you likeable.
- The Rule of Screens: Unfortunately, to many salespeople today are more interested in their mobile devices or other screens than the customer. Put them away. Be present for your customer. Your friends and Facebook can wait.
It might seem odd to write an entire article on being “likeable.” But if our research and decades of retail experience have taught me anything it is this—no sale, no commercial, no clever tag line, no 0 percent financing offer, no low price guarantee and no free anything has ever had the power of a likeable Sales Professional who follows a unified sales process. And no Sales Professional can ever master the art of selling until they master the art of selling themselves. And you can do this—simply by working on your likeability factor.