Would You Rather Be Liked Or Respected

influence relationships Aug 19, 2017

The Value of Being Liked in Creating Influence

Did you like my wisdom? Please share it with someone who is struggling to have influence in their professional and personal relationships, and would like to learn a better way.   -Matt


This 34th edition of Windshield Wisdom does something I've long wanted to do, combine banking with wine tasting and sprinkle in a lesson on being liked and having influence.  At risk of sound overzealous, let me just say I had a lot of fun living the stories behind this Wisdom.

Unfortunately, it's also a theme that reared its ugly head often in my banking days.

Financial services is one of those industries where the actors often fall into one of two camps, "the Liked" and "the Respected".  If you want to know which of the few bankers were able to conquer both ideas, all you had to do was look at the lines outside their offices, check their inboxes, or listen to their voicemail.

They were the ones who were in demand.

They were also the bankers that were capable of having real influence with their clients, overcoming the intense competition from the seemingly endless stream of banks and credit unions chasing the same deals.  They were the bankers who brought in good deals with new business and didn't have to give the rate away.

People wanted to work with them.

And this Windshield Wisdom is all about how profitable relationships start with being liked, and lay the foundation for lasting influence that leads to the respect in the marketplace we all crave.

Oh yeah, and I learned it again while tasting wine with one of my favorite clients.  I know...I suffer needlessly.

Tell me about a time you bought from someone you liked, despite the fact they may have seemed like the less attractive option on paper.  Why?  How have you been able to influence others in your professional relationships?

Make Sales.  Be Happy.  Be Successful.

Thank you,


Full Transcript:

How important is it in the world of business to be liked by your customers and prospects?

Hey everybody!  How's it going?  Matt Middendorp here, the owner and founder of Sales Math.

This week's Windshield Wisdom comes directly from two experiences I've had in the last week.  Let me tell you the first story.  The first story happened when I was out calling with a banker.  The Banker is someone who, in this case, isn't making their goals.  This Banker is also someone who has struggled to sell on something other than price.  He's always having to cut his rates on his loans down to the floor to get anyone to come over to him.

His comment to me was, "I'm not so sure I care as much about being liked as I care about being respected by my customers."

Now I don't want to diminish the value of respect, and having respect from the people you're working with, but here's the very simple truth is it can't be everything.  You have to be liked, and I'm more than willing to connect his likability (and we spent a lot of time talking about it) to his inability to close deals with a reasonable margin on them.

Let's contrast that with some calls that I made with another customer to some local wineries.

I know guys.  I suffer so needlessly.  I'm calling on wineries with my customers for crying out loud.  How am I going to survive.

Let me tell the tales of three wineries.

Two of the wineries that we went to were incredibly friendly.  The people were incredibly knowledgeable.  More importantly, they were incredibly engaging.  They asked us questions.  They were very curious about where we were coming from.  Why we were there?  What was next on our agenda?  When we were talking about wine, it wasn't just the wine, it was about the kinds of foods we eat and even sharing some recipes back and forth.

They were VERY engaging.

In a minute I'm going to come back to what that means to be likable, but for now it's enough to say they were very likable to us.  Let's contrast that to one of the other places we went to.

The guy had a script, and he was able to read the script.  Unfortunately that was all he could tell us about the wine.  More importantly, after he got done pouring the wine and reading the script he walked away.  He didn't stay to have fun.  He didn't show any further interest we were there.  He only wanted to get through what he had to do to sell wine to us.

That's a pretty stark contrast right?  People who engage.  Who are likable.  Who go through a process and want to be liked versus people who don't.  Guess what?  Winners keep score is one of my mantras , so let's keep score from that day.

Two wineries with well-trained, likable people...between my client and I, we bought 11 bottles of wine.

The winery with the unlikable guy...we bought a grand total of 1 bottle.  Why even 1?  Simply because they had a type of wine that my wife loves, and because I love my wife I bought her that bottle of wine.

Despite the person behind the counter.

So what does it mean to be liked?

How do you know?  How can you be likable when you're out with customers or prospects?  Here are four things you can look for...

1. You have to be authentic.

You have to be yourself.  If you're not yourself then you can't be likable consistently.  You can be liked for a moment.  You can be very charming in shorts bursts, but the truth is if you're going to be consistently likable over multiple encounters, and building relationships that are hopefully moving beyond a transaction, you must be authentic.

2. You have to ask good questions.

You can ask scripted questions.  You can plan questions with a very distinct purpose like, "tell me about the foods you eat?" for creating wine pairings.  But I'd like you to notice a lot of questions were also asked that had nothing to do with why we were there, because they just wanted to know about us.

It's a trend I see over and over again.  Business owners and bankers who don't take the time to really get to know the people in front of them beyond what they think they need to know to sell them something.  I'm telling you right now that is a colossal mistake.  You must "get" people as individuals, and to do that all you need to do is ask better questions.

3.  Be curious.

When people say things...how about this, back up...often when I'm talking to people and working with people they're so terrified they're going to run out of things to say.  Here's another trick.  If you want to engage people.  If you want to have real conversations like we have in normal life moments.

All you need to do is listen and engage your curiosity.  They're giving you your next question in their last answer.

4.  Be a center of influence.

It can be as simple as connecting two people who you feel person A has a solution person B needs.  It can be two people you feel would like and respect each other, and as a result they're two professionals who should simply know one another.

If you're seen as somebody who knows people and connects people deliberately and consistently, you will be far more liked.  Let's run through those 4 parts of being likable again.

  1. Be authentic.
  2. Be asking good questions.
  3. Be curious.
  4. Be a center of influence.

Show other people you like them outside of trying to sell them something.  If you can do that.  If you can be more likable, odds are 11-1 is a sales ratio you can go after too.

Hopefully you're selling wine, because if you are apparently I'm buying.

Thank you so much for this week's Windshield Wisdom.  As always, if you have questions please do not hesitate to reach out.  My email is [email protected] sales-math.com.  Call me at (715) 897-0879.

If you haven't already, follow Sales Math on Facebook and get the Wisdom (and a few others) before everyone else.

I'm looking forward to getting great questions from you.

In the meantime, go!  Make sales.  Be Happy.  Be successful.

Thank you so much.  I'll talk to you soon.


Matt Middendorp is a nationally acclaimed speaker and sales coach with over 20 years of experience turning connections into customers and advocates.  In 2013, Matt founded Sales Math, and debuted his “Formula for Success” sales training system to bankers across the country.  From the beginning, Matt’s clients have experienced learning that is fun, meaningful, and makes a difference in the real world.  Today, Matt’s core philosophies of “Learn Together, Do Together, Grow Together” are taught through in-person coaching, online as part of the Cool Bankers Academy, and by his leadership of the Cool Bankers Club Facebook Group.  His clients are making millions based on the confidence and skills gained from learning a sales process tailored to their individual personalities and businesses.  For information about training and workshops visit www.Sales-Math.com, call (715) 897-0879, or email Matt personally at [email protected]

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