Posted by: johnocunningham | October 15, 2012

Want Referrals? Be “Likeable” and “Trustworthy”

Bob Burg, a sales coach for many Fortune 500 companies and author of “Endless Referrals,” asserts that clients and customers “do business with and refer business to people they like and trust.” A Columbia University study by Melinda Tamkins similarly concludes that success in the workplace is also primarily a function of “likeability and trust.”

Empirical studies on who buys from whom back these conclusions up, proving a marketing maxim that “no trust means no sale.”

For lawyers and other service professionals, this means that they should act in a way that is both likeable and trustworthy.

My own interviews and research for articles I have written about leadership and marketing indicate that “likeability” is frequently a function of:

  • Being courteous and polite;
  • Being thoughtful toward others; and
  • Being generally positive and encouraging.

Others who have studied “likeability” have identified these and a handful of similar key traits (see: article by business psychologist, Pam Holloway).

The elements of being perceived as “trustworthy” have similarly been studied, and most studies that I have seen conclude something similar to that asserted by Ken Blanchard, author of “The One-Minute Manager.” Blanchard asserts in a paper on building trust, that the key elements of being perceived as “trustworthy” are:

  • Being capable;
  • Being dependable;
  • Being connected (part of social networks or groups based on trust); and
  • Being believable (I would argue that this latter component is a function of being authentic – not a phony – and being courageous enough to speak with candor and consistency).

If you establish with your actions that you are both likeable and trustworthy, chances are that you will have a lot more referrals and close a lot more sales !


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