There's a popular belief that it is more important to be respected than it is to be liked. You may agree with this statement in your personal life but are wondering if the adage holds true when it comes to your sales position. After all, another old adage says that "people will find a reason to buy from you if they like you and will find a reason not to buy from you if they don't like you."
Ask most veteran sales professionals and they'll tell you that they've closed plenty of sales simply because of the relationship they had with a customer.
It goes without saying that being both liked and respected is the best a sales rep can hope for, but best case scenarios happen about as often as do worst case scenarios. So, if you have to decide between being liked or respected, which path should you choose?
Why Being Liked is More Important than Being Respected
Though some may disagree, everyone wants to be liked by others. Same hold trues for those in sales.
Being liked by others makes everything in life a bit easier. Just imagine if no one liked you? Not only would you be unfulfilled, but you'd also really struggle in your sales career.
Plus, for those in sales, when customers like you, they are significantly more likely to buy from you. Simple, right? Being liked is more important than being respected.
Or maybe not.
Why Being Respected is More Important than Being Liked
Being liked is good and all, but it doesn't do all that much for your career, long term. Consider this, let's say you are engaged in a sales cycle with a two different clients. The first client really likes you and the second client respects your knowledge, your approach and how you challenge her when she needs to be challenged.
Assume that you close both sales. Congratulations! But ask yourself a question (and be honest with your answer): Of these two clients, which is more likely to give you a solid reference that you can share with future prospects? Moreover, which client is more likely to consider you next time she has a need that you and your sales company may be able to satisfy?
The client who likes you may give you a reference because of the fact that they like you but it will pale in effect when compared to the reference from the client who respects you.
Being liked is good, no doubt, but for long term career minded sales professionals, being respected is more important.
So, Which is Really Better? To be Liked or to be Respected?
In this writer's opinion, being respected is better for your career and being liked is better for your social life and psyche. Being a respected sales professional is critical in a world where so many people hold a negative opinion of sales people. In addition, due in part of the negative opinion of sales people, when you try to be liked by prospects, you risk turning them off completely.
Stick to doing the best job you possibly can for your customers. Be fully honest. Know your industry and know your strengths and your weaknesses and strive to earn lasting respect. Doing so will earn you a customer for life instead of a new friend to have a beer with after work.