Joe Girard was the champion vehicle salesman for many years in the United States, averaging more than five daily sales of cars and trucks. What were his secrets? According to Mr. Girard, it was simply due to offering a fair price and being someone customers liked to buy from. Mr. Girard made the car-buying experience pleasant; he asked for referrals from customers to family and friends by sending out preprinted holiday cards monthly to everyone who had ever bought from him that said on the front, "I Like You."

Think back to the first time one of your friends told you that a person of the opposite sex "likes you." That information was pretty heady stuff and very intriguing, wasn't it?

Today, your reaction may be more muted to learning that someone likes you, but you'll still seek out that person's company and attention.

Consider, however, the celebrities who strike you as most appealing. Have you ever seen a photograph of one of those celebrities in which the celebrity seemed to be staring into your eyes with a friendly gaze as a friend does who dotes on you? Research has shown that those who can project that they deeply like virtually everyone are much more attractive people to spend time with and to buy from. It's no wonder that celebrities who have mastered that "look" soon find themselves in the role of pitching products and services on television.

Here are some other characteristics of the people we like to buy from:

1. They are more physically attractive than their competitors.

2. They have more in common with us than competitors in terms of background and what they wear.

3. They pay us sincere compliments.

4. We know them... or they seem familiar.

5. We have successfully solved problems together.

6. They routinely bring us good news.

Many direct-selling organizations take advantage of such characteristics to involve our friends in selling to us. Tupperware (a direct-sales company known for offering its plastic containers at women's parties) has been an example of this marketing approach for many years. The hostess for a Tupperware party is usually a neighbor or a friend. The hostess receives a commission from any sales that are made at the party, and she provides the home and refreshments. Friends and neighbors who are invited often feel that they need to accept if they want to keep a good relationship with the hostess, and they also know that they are expected to buy some Tupperware when they come. American homes have been overstocked with Tupperware for decades as a result of such parties... even though comparable containers can be bought in a store at a much lower price.

Students of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) have also shown that you can induce liking by physically copying (mirroring) what the other person does (gestures, breathing, posture) until an unconscious rapport is established. Then, rather than copy, you begin leading the other person with your movements. Once the person follows what you do, you will probably be able to sell the person something. This persuasion method seems to be an example of people opening up to what you have to say after perceiving a similarity and familiarity at a subliminal level.

If you want to learn more about how to employ your liking for people and having them like you to ethically encourage purchases, I suggest you read Influence by Robert B. Cialdini.

What benefits come from employing liking to stimulate demand for industry offerings?

1. You will attract much more attention from potential buyers.

2. If they need or can use what you offer, they will feel compelled to consider your sales pitches and give them a fair hearing... even if they aren't looking to buy at that time.

3. If you provide your offerings in an acceptable way, they will probably keep buying and tell others to work with you.

4. If enough demand is stimulated, you will also grow revenues faster than costs and assets, increasing your profit and cash flow as a percentage of revenues.

5. If you grasp a unique form of liking (such as becoming better acquainted with them than anyone else), you will have reduced the impact of competitors against you by making other offerings seem inferior because of the superior comfort customers feel towards you and your offerings.

6. Your pricing power will have increased because you now face less competition for those customers who favor you. When you make a mistake, people will let you know as a friend that you need to improve rather than simply look for a new supplier.

7. Mass-marketing effectiveness will be improved while you maintain a liking advantage (as cosmetics companies do through employing popular models and actresses). With enough of a liking advantage, competitors' marketing will be remembered by most potential customers as having come from you.

What's the strategic lesson of expanding your market by twenty times through liking? Develop as many sources of liking and familiarity as you can among current and potential customers for a market you can serve well, and encourage customers and prospects to buy more by applying these liking sources to make them feel better liked by you and to increase their liking for you... or you will be leaving the door open to continuing new entrants who can create liking advantages against you.

Peter Drucker applied this concept exceptionally well to his consulting practice. He held the sessions in a pleasant part of his living room that overlooked a backyard pool. He began by going to great lengths to put you at ease by asking detailed questions about every member of your family, your personal plans, your travel, your hotel, your sleep, and how you were feeling that day. Peter would also share the same details about himself and his own family, and tell many wonderful stories that made you feel as if you were an old friend.

Such personal questions and comments would last for forty-five minutes if there were two people visiting Peter. Even in a one-on-one session, these personal conversations would take thirty minutes.

I once asked Peter how to persuade my clients to follow more of my recommendations. He suggested phrasing the recommendations in terms of being an extension of some great success that the person or organization had previously achieved. Peter mentioned that people have a hard time hearing anything other than praise, but everyone remembers actual praise quite well. Could it be that they also like people better who phrase recommendations in terms of honest praise? Sure they do!

The following sections address questions you should consider for employing genuine liking as a way to expand your market.

What Opportunities for Liking Can You Pursue because the Market Is Underdeveloped?

Liking is often more important in underdeveloped markets than in developed ones because most potential customers in an underdeveloped market have no idea whether they need an offering they haven't employed before. The easiest thing for a potential customer to do in such a case is to just ignore the industry and its offerings. But if a potential customer likes the person describing the offering, even an offering with uncertain benefits will gain advantage from receiving close attention.

I have often received positive reactions to my services during initial presentations to people who decided they liked me on the telephone and didn't realize the kinds of services we offered until we met. Someone who likes our firm or me will usually provide helpful, unsolicited advice about how to be more likeable to the organization's decision makers. I don't think they usually realize what they are doing... but, rather, they are just reacting to a sense that people in our firm aren't yet "cuddly" enough, or in the "right" ways, for their colleagues.

When an industry is new, few potential customers will even take the time to let you come to make a sales pitch. When you have only a small number of potential selling opportunities, you should take extra time to prepare before sales presentations. You should use that extra time to find out more about the person, including what she or he likes and how he or she prefers to work with others. I've often found that two hours of such research can translate into hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra revenues. During such research, try to determine if you have any friends in common. If you succeed in identifying any, ask the mutual friends to vouch for you, ideally by everyone having an informal meal together.

The downside of developing liking can be that the person thinks you admire him or her so much that she or he need only sit there basking in your gaze to provide enough gratification for you. After a few sessions like that, pursue some other prospect. This egomaniac is headed for a large downfall! My experience has been that any company with such a leader will usually be taken over or go bankrupt within three years.

What New Forms of Liking Can You Offer That Will Impress Potential Customers?

The most successful organizations in new industries have often benefited by hiring people with attractive appearances and winning personalities. Such charmers fill the company's coffers by attracting those who like to spend time with attractive and delightful people.

In an earlier lesson, I mentioned Mitchell and Company's practice of presenting prestigious awards to company leaders at dinners celebrating the anniversaries of our firm's founding. Those who could not attend such occasions have often sent another senior official to accept the award. Award winners who were thrilled by the recognition often bought more consulting.

Another way to provide genuine compliments is to become the author of an annual article in a prestigious publication that recognizes outstanding achievements. Then, you can present awards to those described in the articles as gifts from your organization. We did that for many years for those who appeared in our listings of the top 100 CEOs in Chief Executive Magazine.After the awards arrived at such companies, the doors to the CEOs' offices were usually wide open to us. Many times, I have arrived at a company's reception desk or the CEO's office to see the award I had previously presented prominently displayed.

How Can You Use New Forms of Liking to Recreate the Excitement of When the Market Was Small?

Many organizations hold an annual event when they recreate some important aspect of their heritage. Such an event might include rolling back prices to their original levels, providing an "old fashioned" version of the experience, offering "nostalgia" gifts, and so forth. Some organizations only invite those who are very good customers. Such events can help customers feel better liked and more appreciated.

Sometimes such special events can become the high point of the year for customers. For instance, one of our clients owns an exclusive fishing camp in Labrador near the Arctic Circle. To reach the camp, you enjoy the adventure of flying part-way by pontoon plane from Thunder Bay, the site of the big NATO base where the Luftwaffe practices dog fights. During the flight, you may even soar through an opening in an iceberg! Once at the camp, you are served wonderful meals that are prepared by a Cordon Bleu chef.

Naturally, only the biggest customers are invited. They value the experience so much that they often ask how much more they have to purchase to be sure to receive another invitation. While there, you spend a week with your salesperson. Naturally, everyone likes one another pretty well after such a week of comfortable "wilderness" fun and games.

I recommended that our client company open up more fishing camps to add capacity for entertaining potential large customers as well as to encourage good customers to buy more who are splitting their purchases with competitors.

How Far Can You Profitably Increase Sales through Liking?

There are two sides to answering this question:

1. The amount of increased purchasing that occurs

2. The amount of cost reductions for increasing liking

Here's where helping those in need can make a difference. As I have mentioned before, celebrities and beauty-contest winners often donate their time to raising money for worthy causes. If you host such an event featuring high-profile people at your premises, lots of potential customers will attend, and you will be better liked for being the sponsor and providing new ways for your prospects to feel liked.

Programs such as Joe Girard's monthly holiday cards can be implemented quite inexpensively. You can probably create more effective versions that will work even better with your customers and prospects.

Work on developing all the inexpensive opportunities first, before adding expensive choices.

How Can You Attract the Best Customers First through Liking?

Several factors should be considered:

1. The cost to develop liking

2. The value of liking for creating current sales

3. The value of liking for creating future influence with other prospects

4. Customers' sensitivity to being influenced by liking in their future purchases

You may find that the most effective approach is to combine scarcity and liking. For instance, as you make scarce, valuable information and offerings available, you can indicate that you are doing so because you like the person and organization (when that's the case).

Taking extra good care of someone also makes a powerful impression. Many hotels have found that by keeping computer files of guest preferences they can provide customized services that deliver to the guest a powerful sense of being liked. Delighted guests often reciprocate by providing unsolicited word-of-mouth praise to their families, friends, and colleagues. You can use such a prompting system to be sure you systematically respond in a desirable way to your customers and prospects.

Photographs are also good for building liking. Arrange to have photographs of top prospects taken with your leader, and provide the pictures in attractive frames. Many prospects will keep the photographs in their offices or homes. Politicians understand this practice very well, and the experience of attending a $1,000-a-plate chicken dinner is usually made more palatable by providing a photograph of a smiling handshake or hug with the politician.

How Can You Change Your Business Model to Permit Faster Development of Liking?

Let's look at Disney for a moment. That corporation is primarily in the business of providing wholesome fun. Most employees, investors, and customers love to interact with the Disney organization. When you visit the company's headquarters, you even pass under statues of Snow White's seven dwarfs. Who can help but smile?

Showing people how to have more fun can be a great way to establish more liking. Some of my favorite business seminars have been filled with comedy, enthusiastic back rubs, dancing, and singing. Business doesn't have to be a bore.

If you can count on someone to provide fun, chances are that you can count on them to help you with more serious problems. What could be a better way to become better liked?

How Can You Locate Undiscovered High-Potential Customers through Developing More Powerful Forms of Liking?

One of our Mitchell and Company clients took time at his company's annual meeting to recognize every major vendor and to praise the vendor for his or her contributions to the company's success. I can assure you that being on the receiving end of such recognition is great fun. Imagine if you did the same thing for your best clients or customers... and kept their photographs in a hall of fame that was seen by everyone who came to visit.

Author's Bio: 

Donald Mitchell is the author of Business Basics which provides 52 lessons in how to create a new enterprise that will have 400 times more profit and 8,000 times more cash flow and value. To learn more, you can read excerpts from the book at: