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Likeability ~ The E-Factor

If you have ever wondered what’s going on inside the head of your client, before your client puts money on the line and says yes to your service or product, they typically make five decisions. Most have their basis in logic and are very thoughtful. Most firms have at least three people involved in making the decision to help lower the risk of an emotional decision.

Below is the process that most people go through, see if it fits your decision-making process.

1. Do I want to do business with this person?
Can I trust him? Do I like her? Who is this person, really, what are they like under pressure? Will I be able to work with them over time?

2. Do I want to do business with them?
What’s their reputation like? Are they credible? Do they deliver? Who have they worked with and what do they say about them?

3. Do we need these products and services?
Is there a special problem that they can solve? Can they help us make our goal sooner? Will they give us an advantage in the marketplace?

4. Is the product/service good value?
Will I get a good return on my investment? Is the price in line with similar services/products? Will this give us an advantage?

5. Do we need to buy now?
Is the problem about to get bigger and overwhelm us? Is a vital opportunity about to slip away?

Business Presentation
These questions dominate every, “do I buy or not buy” conversation, especially when making a presentation to a large group of decision makers. The audience makes the first and second decisions based upon the reputation of the presenter and the presenter’s firm.

Often that reputation is “borrowed” from a respected member of the group who is sponsoring the presentation. (” our – – -, invited us to hear this guy speak.”)  The actual presentation–if it’s a good one, will first define/clarify needs, then present a solution, and finally explain why this is the right time to buy.

Get It Right
In order to pitch effectively, you need to focus on presenting the information so they can make each decision in the proper order.  If you try to get a quick decision that will naturally come later, you’ll end up losing it or delaying getting the contract. Trial closing usually means a ‘no’ later as it always feels like a hustle.

Can I Trust?
For example, if you start talking about problems and solutions to a group of people who don’t believe you’re a reputable person from a credible firm, you are wasting everybody’s time. The decision-makers don’t listen in fact they can’t, because until they answer this question “Can I trust this guy?” they are not ready to make a decision.

Reputations
The need to establish credibility (i.e., decisions No. 1 and 2) is why many presenters begin by introducing themselves and their companies. This is where references play an important part in establishing credibility. It’s very powerful if “your reputation precedes you,” so that the first two decisions are already made before you present. Often today a RTQ is used (request to qualify) to weed out those who cannot deliver.

If you’re presenting to a group of people, make certain that as many attendees as possible have “endorsed” your presence and that the invitation to the meeting includes the information that establishes trust and credibility.

It Really Matters
However your behavior and personal presentation really matter! If you appear nervous, overbearing or arrogant you will lose the opportunity.

I know of one senior executive who likes to drop into the reception in shirtsleeves, just to observe how people are when they arrive, how do they treat his staff, what are their manners like. When I asked why, “Well if it is going to be a long-term contract, it is like marriage. Without the love, will I be able to stand working with them?”.

My point is, if all aspects of your service and product are very similar to your competitors (price, design aspects, etc.) then how is the decision made ~ it is by likeability. It is a very quiet and subtle emotion, almost overlooked by most people. For if they cannot imagine working with you, they won’t ~ you lose.

Geoffrey X. LaneAbout The Author: Geoffrey X. Lane
Geoffrey X. Lane is a master storyteller and explorer. Instrumental in high profile, successful proposals ranging from the Vancouver 2010 Olympic bid to the Museum of Anthropology funding bid, Geoffrey has also taught at UBC’s Sauder School of Business. He travels widely throughout North America coaching his clients on how to create, pitch and win.
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