The 1980’s was a grand time for most involved – Madonna was dominating the airwaves, Michael Jordan was suiting up for his first game of NBA basketball and the fashion trends were entertaining to say the least.

It’s a decade we look back on now as business owners with intrigue as we had no idea what was just around the corner to come – the greatest technological revolution the modern world has seen in ‘the internet’ was about to change the way we ran businesses, interacted with friends and lived our lives significantly.

Fortunately, many of the creations of the 80’s remained in the decade they belonged – it would be a difficult world to live in if some of the decade’s most memorable creations still existed in the present year.

But unfortunately for many sales professionals and business owners, there have been some mindsets, attitudes and value systems that have carried on undetected up until today.

Unchallenged beliefs that excessively detract from a business’ sales results, yet still remain burned into the forefront of their mind when running business.

Beliefs that when given sufficient focus, drastically and ironically reduce the chance of business success moving forward without the business owner even giving it a second thought.

And one of the most detrimental of these unchallenged, outdated and damaging myths is that ‘people do business with people they know, like and trust.’

We’ve all heard this one before – for so many it’s the first lesson learned in Sales 101.

It essentially states that in order for someone to buy from us they need to know who we are as a person or business – meaning they are familiar with us to a sufficient extent. They also need to like us – meaning they approve of our character or personality. Finally, they need to be able to trust us – meaning they are confident that we will do the job we say we will do if the money exchanges hands.

These requirements used to be extremely important when choosing who we wanted to work with moving forward. And of course, they assist the buying process in the modern business landscape, but they simply don’t need to be the main aim or achievement for a sales professional by any stretch of the mind. One thing is for sure – the inclusion of all three requirements in order for a sale to be complete is a notion of such a distant past that the mould it grew years ago has now started to grow mould of its own.

Because as a generalisation, who we used to work with also used to be our neighbours, or at most those within our own country. At the time that this myth was created, business largely happened on terms of proximity – where it was more likely that the myth itself held a level of truth: We were required to operate face to face with the people that were going to be offering us a service on a day to day basis – so we better be damn sure we know, like and trust them.

However, now with the creation and rise of technology such as the internet and along with it social media and search engine marketing and selling, all of this has changed.

In the moment of purchase in the modern environment, the buyer’s mind is sorting the hierarchy of importance in values and attitudes in the person they are conversing with significantly differently to how they used to.

They know that their ability to rapidly select (even as fast as a mouse click in many situations) someone else to buy from is a power that lies squarely in their hands at all times.  

Their ever-growing accessibility to such an expansive field of options to interact with and buy from people and companies all over the world has lowered their interest in knowing, liking and trusting those they buy from.

In fact, in many buying situations there’s no requirement to like, no possibility to know, and a low barrier to trust as buyers willingly put their credit card details into anything with a certified logo on it.

The myth that people do business with people they know, like and trust has crumbled in front of our eyes as the size of the internet and the quantity of businesses making an impact on the buyer’s brain each day skyrockets.

So if being known, liked and trusted isn’t the ultimate key to closing sales with your buyers, then what is?

More than ever, the buyer is placing their decision through the filter of one thing over any other:

‘How effectively can this person or company solve the current problem I am experiencing?’ And on top of this – tailored uniquely to the 21st century buyer more than any other, ‘how quickly can they get it done, too?’

It’s such a fast paced world out there now that taking the time to know, like and trust a salesperson or business can be detrimental when all our buyers ever want to know first and foremost is ‘how effectively and efficiently can you solve my problem?’

Any knowing, liking and trusting on top of that is simply a bonus and serves as a nice icing on the cake to firmly closing the sale at the end of the day – as opposed to three decades ago when it comprised the majority of the cake, the icing that covered it and the sprinkles on top, too.

Your buyer would rather see you show that you are someone who can predict their problems, the consequences of those problems, and then provide the solution far more than see you show that you deserve to be liked, known and trusted.

Approach your next sales conversation with the problem-solver identity in mind, and however much importance is held in being known, liked and trusted will be taken care of in the process.

Darcy J Smyth is the lead trainer of the Tonal Persuasion Method for Sales – a methodology designed to ensure you are closing sales in a way that solves significant problems for your buyers.


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