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Are You Only Selling to People You Like?

Are You Only Selling to People You Like? - SalesLatitude

Are You Only Selling to People You Like? - SalesLatitudeLike most of us, you tend to spend most of your time with people you like. And why not. But in sales, doing so can get sticky. Do you like all your customers and prospects? If you’re honest, you’ll get stuck on the word “all.” Some you like, and some – well, not so much. And it makes perfect sense. We sell to people. Human beings. And what makes the world go around for some does not necessarily do the same for others.

Not everyone is going to like you. There – I said it. I know that’s hard for any salesperson to digest. Most of us pride ourselves on being likable. So, what can you do about it?

1. Stop ONLY Talking to People You Like

The key word here is “only.” I have met too many salespeople who regularly keep in touch with only a handful of people. When I ask them why, they usually say that these are the people who need their products and services. But when I dig in a bit deeper, we collectively arrived at a few conclusions:

  • These are not the ONLY people who need their products and services
  • They are talking to people too low in the organization
  • They don’t want to confront people they don’t like or who don’t like them
  • They stick to those who take their calls since they like them

But what happens when these coveted contacts leave the organization? There they go, out the door. Now you’ll need to find more people you like at that company.

Be proactive about it. Create a relationship roadmap now to identify who you should know throughout the organization, at different levels and departments, and make a plan to talk to them. Remember, your communication style may change depending on what their role is and what they care about.

2. Never Speak Ill of Anyone – Ever!

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve told a salesperson or sales leader to refrain from speaking derogatorily about a customer or prospect, even amongst themselves. If you talk about someone negatively, make fun of them or call them names, even if they are nowhere within earshot, your true feelings could come through in your voice or body language when you talk to them on the phone or in person. It’s just human nature. And you won’t even be aware of it.

You may think that certain people do not like you or your company, but it could be something totally different. It could simply be that they just don’t believe you can help them, or you or your company pissed them off in the past. Whatever the reason − it may not make sense to you, but it does to them.

3. Turn Negatives into Positives

You may not always work with people you like and you may not get people to like you. But you may be able to neutralize their negativity. Going from “I don’t like you” to “I like you” takes a bit of work, especially if an individual harbors much resentment either for you or your company.

Did you oversell them? Not deliver on time? Fail to provide the desired results you promised? Any and all these reasons (and more) could eat away at them and they may never do business with your company again. It may not even have anything to do with you. Still, you may be able to neutralize them and change their attitude in a positive direction.

Perhaps you know their industry and market(s) so well that you can provide insights that keep them ahead of the curve. Maybe you know how to challenge them and change their way of thinking by sharing how other customers have solved similar problems. Whatever you do to neutralize them, DO NOT “sell” to them. Research and plan on how you can have a conversation that helps them achieve their business or financial KPIs, and use your company’s resources to assuage any past animosity.

The Common Ground

I realize that even you may place people you like at the top of your priority list. People tend to buy from those they like. Usually, this means they believe you are listening to them, understand how to help them, and are not just trying to sell them something to make your quota. But sometimes, you don’t like your client or they don’t like you. You don’t have to like everyone. But you should at least look at things through the eyes of those you don’t like from time to time, and understand their point of view. After all, they’re just human and want to be successful – just like you.


Janice Mars, Principal and Founder of SalesLatitude, is a sales performance improvement consultant and change agent focused on growing top performers to impact bottom line growth. With more than 30 years of experience as a senior business and sales executive, she helps companies build successful sales teams by maximizing their time and resources, selling from the buyer’s point of view, and strengthening the effectiveness of leadership. View my LinkedIn profile | Twitter


Janice Mars5 years ago

July 12 2017

Well, thank you Shari! We have a lot in common.


Shari Levitin5 years ago

July 11 2017

Love this! Yes, Janice, I've noticed i prefer to sell people that speak too fast, love dogs like they're children and prefer meeting while hiking, to indoor conference calls! Great post!


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