Do you still need to like someone to do business with them or not? Is it a case of buying the person first and the product or service, second? Or have times changed as long you get the desired results and benefits?
Do people buy people as much as they used to? Is likeability a myth? Or is it still as relevant today?
Before we jump in, let’s just remind ourselves of the sales process. There are generally accepted to be five steps in the sales process:
Prospecting and lead generation – this is where you find people who might be interested in what you’re selling. It might include cold calling, social selling or inside sales lead generation.
Qualifying the prospect – this is where you determine whether the prospect is a good fit for your product or service.
Building rapport and relationships – this is where you start to build a relationship with the prospect.
Presenting the solution – this is where you present your product or service as the solution to the prospect’s problem. This can be via a sales interaction, a formal sales pitch or sales presentation.
Closing the sale – this is where you finally ask for the sale and close the deal.
It’s important to remember that the sales process is not linear. It’s more like a spiral, with each step looping back around on itself. For example, you might find yourself having to go back and build more rapport if the sale isn’t closing as you had hoped.
At the centre of this spiral is building rapport and relationships. This is the step where people, theoretically, buy from people. How well you connect with your prospect will determine whether they want to do business with you.
But is this still true in today’s world? With the advent of technology, some people believe that the human element has been taken out of sales. After all, you can now buy just about anything online without ever having to speak to a salesperson.
So, what’s the verdict? Do people still buy from people? Or has technology changed the game completely?
What Does “People buy People” Mean?
The phrase “people buy people” is often used to describe the importance of building relationships in sales. In other words, people are more likely to do business with someone they know, like, and trust.
The logic behind this is that people want to do business with people they know, like, and trust. And, when it comes to sales, building relationships is key.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. There are some products and services that people simply need and don’t have time to build a relationship with a salesperson. In these cases, people are more likely to buy based on price or convenience.
So, if there are exceptions to the rule, does that mean the rule is invalid? Let’s look at the case for and against people buying from people.
People Buy People – The case for
If we assume that people want to do business with people they like and trust, it stands to reason that salespeople have an advantage over other types of businesses when it comes to selling.
Let’s break down the logic:
People prefer to do business with people they like – In general, people prefer to do business with people they know and like. This is human nature. We are social animals and we want to deal with other humans.
People buy from people they trust – If people don’t know the salesperson, they are more likely to trust someone who comes recommended by a friend or family member. Salespeople who have established themselves as experts in their field are also more likely to be trusted by potential customers.
People want to do business with people who understand them – We all want to feel understood. And we are more likely to do business with someone who understands our needs and can provide a solution that meets those needs.
Salespeople are trained to be good at reading people – Part of being a successful salesperson is being able to read people. This means they are better equipped to understand what someone wants and needs, and how to best provide a solution.
People like doing business with people who are like them – We are more likely to do business with people who we feel are like us. This could be based on shared values, interests, or experiences.
So far, all these points ring true. People do seem to prefer buying from people instead of faceless businesses. But there is one more factor to consider.
People also like getting a good deal – Just because people prefer buying from people does not mean they are willing to pay more. In fact, most people want to feel like they got a good deal, no matter who they are buying from.
Using this idea as a launch pad, let’s look at the case against people buying from people.
People Buy People – The case against
Are buyers driven by how likeable the salesperson is, or is there more to the story than that?
Salespeople are often told that they need to be likeable, and that buyers will be more likely to do business with them if they like them. But is that true?
Let’s look at the case against people buying from people.
Value is king – people want to feel like they got a good deal, no matter who they are buying from. If the product or service is valuable and priced competitively, buyers will be interested, regardless of whether they like the salesperson. In fact, sometimes people can be turned off by a salesperson who is too friendly or pushy – they may feel like they are being taken advantage of.
Convenience is a close second – these days, people want to be able to buy what they want, when they want it, and with as little hassle as possible. If a company can provide that, again, buyers will be interested, regardless of whether they like the salesperson.
The internet has changed the way we shop – nowadays, people can find what they want with a few clicks, without ever having to talk to a salesperson. And even when they do need to talk to someone, they can often get all the information they need from an automated customer service system. So, it’s no wonder that some people think the idea of “people buying from people” is a bit of a legend.
Well-informed is not the same as likeable – Being a well-informed and trustworthy salesperson is not the same as being likeable. In fact, studies have shown that people are more likely to make a purchase from someone they don’t particularly like if they believe that person is an expert on the subject. So even if you’re not the most outgoing person in the world, if you know your stuff, you’ll be able to make sales.
Personalisation is more important than people – A study by American Express found that 91% of respondents said they were more likely to do business with a company if it provided them with a personalised experience. However, that personalised experience does not have to include other people.
In fact, the main driver for customers was personalised offers and recommendations, regardless of the source of those offers. In other words, an email with personalised value is more effective than the world’s most likeable person who provides no personalised value
Do People Buy People?
Looking at the data, the first thing we can say with confidence is that the idea that people buy people, is, at best, overrated. In reality, customers care more about the value they’re getting, regardless of who’s providing it.
As technology changes the way we interact with businesses, the relevance of the smooth-talking salesperson is fading. In a world of online reviews and social media, customers are more informed than ever before, and they’re not afraid to use that information to make purchase decisions.
However, so far, we’ve been looking at this a zero-sum game, in which the two ideas can’t coexist. But that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, people can buy from people, and they can also buy value.
The key is understanding how to provide both.
On the one hand, you need to be able to connect with your customers on a personal level. This means understanding their needs and desires and being able to speak to them in a way that resonates.
On the other hand, you also need to be able to offer them something of value. This could be a product or service that meets their needs, or it could be an experience that’s unlike anything they’ve had before.
The bottom line is that people will always buy from people. But to do so, you need to provide value. If you can do that, you’ll be successful in sales, no matter what the world looks like.
Let’s look at some of the ways you can provide value to your customers:
Offer a great product or service: This one is self-explanatory. If you have a great product or service, people will be more likely to buy it. Make sure that your product or service is high quality and meets the needs of your target market.
Build relationships: People like to do business with people they know, like, and trust. Take the time to get to know your customers and build relationships with them. Show them that you care about them as individuals, and they’ll be more likely to buy from you.
Provide an exceptional experience: In today’s world, people are looking for experiences that are memorable and unique. If you can provide an exceptional customer experience, people will be more likely to buy from you.
Be genuine: People can tell when you’re being fake, and they’ll be turned off by it. Be genuine in your interactions with customers, and they’ll be more likely to buy from you.
Meet needs: If you can meet the needs of your customers, they’ll be more likely to buy from you. Make sure that your product or service is high quality and meets the needs of your target market.
People have been saying “people buy from people” for years. But is it still true? In today’s world of online shopping and automated sales processes, some people may wonder if the personal touch is still important.
Changing the definition
As technology advances and the way we do business changes, the definition of “people buying from people” has changed as well. In the past, it may have meant building relationships in person and developing trust over time.
Today, it might mean being active on social media and engaging with customers online. It could also mean providing excellent customer service or creating a personalised shopping experience.
While some aspects of “people buying from people” have changed with the times, others remain just as important as ever. Personal relationships are still a key factor in sales, even if they look different than they did in the past.
However, having a silver tongue isn’t enough to succeed in sales anymore.
To be successful, salespeople need to be able to connect with their customers and understand their needs. They also need to be experts in their field and able to provide value.
By being adaptable and understanding the needs of your customers, you can show that people still buy from people – even in a digital age.