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Why Great Sales People Don’t Need to Be Likable

Busting the common belief that salespeople must be “likable” to succeed.

Good Morning and Happy National Computer Security Day! It’s estimated that email users lost over $53M to email scams and over $10B to internet scams last year. Always remember, if a Nigerian prince emails you with the offer of a lifetime, make sure to ask for their past clients and case studies before making any deals. 😏 

In today’s Follow Up:

  • Why great salespeople don’t need to be likable 💌 

  • How much to pay your salespeople 🤑 

  • Sales meeting quick tip 📆 

  • Sales across the internet 🖥️ 

  • LinkedIn sightings & a sales meme 😂 

Why Salespeople Don’t Need to Be Liked

It’s a common belief that salespeople must be “likable” to succeed.

But is it true?

Whether you admit it or not, it’s human nature to want people to like you.

*And salespeople are no different.*

But it turns out that wanting to be liked may be a weakness when it comes to sales…

A study of over 450K salespeople compared the need to be liked vs. sales performance to determine if likable sales reps actually perform better.

Kurlan & Associates, Inc.

As you can see, they found that among the sales elites (the all-stars of the sales team), a whopping 89% did not feel the need to be liked. They’re like the freak athletes who only care about winning, without needing a fan club.

On the other side, 86% of the struggling sales folks (aka, the bench warmers) care a whole lot about being liked.

Why is this? The study suggests that elite sales reps focus on becoming experts and solving their prospects’ problems, rather than being liked by them.

Customers care about how well your solution solves their problem, not how much you can bench how cool you are.

Customers want an expert, not a new BFF.

But how do you become an expert for them? In an HBR article, Keenan dug into the 3 things sales reps should focus on to become experts for their prospects. 👇️ 

🔍️ Find the Root Cause

In many cases, your prospect’s real problem isn’t what they’re telling you.

*Like a girlfriend that says “its fine”.*

The best salespeople push back on surface-level issues to uncover the real problems, which is why “challenger” sellers outperform “relationship builders”.

Ex: A prospect tells you they’re looking for a new email data provider because their current one doesn’t have enough contacts. But the real reason? Their team hasn’t hit quota in the past two quarters and they told their boss it’s because they don’t have enough correct emails to reach out to.

Surface level issue: Not enough correct email contacts.
The real issue: Their team isn’t hitting quota.

When you find out their real issue you can cater your pitch to solving that problem.

🧠 Always Be Learning

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth” - *Mike Tyson voice*

This is the feeling of showing up to a sales call thinking you have everything you need to make the sale, only to get hit with 5 different objections or questions that you don’t know how to answer.

It's tempting to feel like you know everything about your ideal customer after a bit of success, but don’t fall into that trap. The process of becoming an expert never stops. Every market is constantly evolving, and prospects will face new challenges.

Take every opportunity you get to learn from people who are a part of your target market.

🔄 Learn The Full Sales Cycle

Every step of a sales cycle brings new objections.

For example, in residential real estate, this might look something like:

Pre-approval for mortgage → house tour → offer submitted → offer accepted → home inspection → title insurance → closing, etc.

At every step of the process, there will be new challenges and objections to overcome. And to overcome each challenge, you need to become an expert of the sales cycle.

Now let’s clarify one thing…. being liked by your prospect is not a bad thing. You can be their trusted expert and likable at the same time. But for best results, put your effort into becoming a trusted expert… not a likable sales person.


  • Be an expert, not a best friend: Prospects care about how your solution solves their problem, not how cool you are.

  • Find the root cause: Find your prospect’s real problem, not the surface level one they tell you.

  • Always be learning: Becoming an expert never ends

  • Learn the full sales cycle: To overcome all of the challenges during a sale, you need to be an expert on the sales cycle.

Do you feel the need to be liked by your customers?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Use this template for salespeople payouts

Your hunter-gatherers deserve proper compensation. Here’s a DIY way to divvy out the funds. 

This free compensation calculator helps you pick the payment structure that best suits your sales reps — whether that means set rate commission, tiered commission, or territory volume. 

It also helps salesfolks crunch the numbers themselves. 

It’s a seven-headed spreadsheet… with one specific purpose.

Sales Tip of The Day 💡 

Research shows that people are more likely to be honest in the morning.

If you have the option, try to schedule your discovery calls in the morning to get the most information from your prospect.

And if your call involves negotiation, always push for a morning meeting. 😉 

Sales in the News 🗞️ 

Cool Jobs at Cool Companies 🤑 

Checking in on LinkedIn 👀 

Always look on the bright side…? 🤔 

Sales Meme of the Day

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