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Being Nice vs. Getting Results

I've met a lot of very nice salespeople. Some sell a lot, some not so much.

Part of being a professional at anything is not only knowing what it takes to succeed, but being single-minded in the pursuit of your goals. The big difference between the "nice salespeople" who succeed vs. those who fail is this:

Those who succeed are focused on their goals and results, and treat people well along the way. Those who fail are often caught up in how they treat people, how they come across as treating people, and how much people like them, while the results are left hanging in the balance.

Here's another way of putting it. The "nice guys" who succeed want continued success more than nearly anything else in life. And at their foundation, they treat people well. The nice guys who fail want to be successful, but more important to them is being liked or being considered "nice" when they're not around. While there's nothing inherently wrong in this, in sales it's an insecurity that can become its own ugly obstacle.

I'm not even talking about the root cause issues, but how the idea that a worthy desire in life (being liked) can become an unhealthy preoccupation and hindrance to success.

Any thoughts? - by BrandonH
I think you're right on the money. A magnificent obsession. :) - by Mikey
I love this insight. Very true. Being liked is a great key to success in sales. However, being RESPECTED ranks equal to or even above. As a female in a male dominated business, I think it's especially important to be respected for your abilities. Sales is a time investment . . . . the longer you're in it, the better you do IFyou're in it for the long term. I have also found that when you stand up for yourself and your product, and people know they can't walk all over you~ sales INCREASE. Hey, let's face it . . . . do people want a NICE lawyer or a results oriented lawyer. - by LaureMac
Great post BrandonH. :) - by Houston
good comment. - by Rothgar the Pacifist
Your post reminds me of an interview with Martin Short that I saw earlier this year. If the name doesn't jump out at you, he's a veteran of Second City TV, Saturday Night Live, movies and Broadway.

I was surprised to hear him say in the interview that he doesn't particularly care what people think of him, or words to that effect.

I think it's safe to say that as an entertainer, he's selling himself and I think he's an example or your theory BrandonH.

He's certainly successful. - by Ricardo
That's an awesome post BrandonH. The only thing I can say is that if there's a will, there's always a way to become successful. - by shinningstar
The "nice guys" who succeed want continued success more than nearly anything else in life. And at their foundation, they treat people well. The nice guys who fail want to be successful, but more important to them is being liked or being considered "nice" when they're not around. While there's nothing inherently wrong in this, in sales it's an insecurity that can become its own ugly obstacle.
You've pointed out a key distinction to success in any endeavor BrandonH. Kudos. ;co - by SalesGuy
I found many CEO's who asked their administrative assistants how they liked a sales person--were they polite, respectful, etc? I know this because I had more than one person comment to me, 'My Assistant really likes you'.
Something to keep in mind.

Susan - by susana
I found many CEO's who asked their administrative assistants how they liked a sales person--were they polite, respectful, etc?
This is true. However, this is not the distinction Brandon has pointed out. ;wi - by SalesGuy
Being the nice guy often backfires in the end. Being a mean SOB can often bring the required results IMHO. - by jimberan
I’d answer this honestly but………I’m afraid people won’t like me.

Only kidding, ;wi
That’s a great way of looking at a very common problem.
We need to balance;
  • Game Plan
  • Results
  • Effort
  • Integrity
  • Focus
Spooky, the acronym is GREIF…..

This is one of the most effective combinations in sales and also one of the lest common.

Excellent insight.

Snowman;bg - by Tony Dunne
This post reminds me a man I knew while I was serving in the Army over in Germany. I had more respect and admiration for this man than almost any other person I could think of. He was a great leader. He lead by example. He was not afraid to say I don't know or say it was his fault when something went wrong. More often than not when he was around things where going right. I remember one day someone forgot to set the brake on a 30 ton tank. The tank was rolling down hill and headed for a couple of tents with troups in it. He risked his own life by diving on top of the tank crawling through the drivers hatch to set the brake stopping the tank before it could do any harm. He received a medal, but it was a medal for doing a good job, not for saving saving lives, not the type of medal he deserved, not the medal he was put in for by the First Sergent. Why because he was the kind of man who spoke his mind, who told people what he thought and this agrivated some people. I asked him if it bothered him that he did not recieve the medal that he was put in for. And he replied no ... I know I deserved it I know what I am worth. Just because someone does not like me I am not going to let it change the person I am. Even though some people may say less than favorable things about me I know in my heart that the people who do know me will stick up for me when I am not there to defend myself. I know if we go to war I will have people who will watch my back and I will watch theirs.

People who say bad things about others. Well they hang out together too, and those are the type of people who only watch out for themselves. Those are the type of people who get left by their buddies on the battle field when the enemy is charging in.

As I reread this I think how it translates to sales and this post.

People are smarter than you think. If you are just being nice to get a sale they can sense that. If you are a genuine good person and tell everyone not just your customers what's in your heart even though it may not be what they want to hear. They will respect you. And that type of respect that not only gets you sales but get you referrals. - by Jorel
Jorel

awesome story. and yes that does explain very clearly what sales is all about. most of the time people will see through a fake personality. and if they don't innitialy, they will in the future.

Sincere genuine kindness will breed long term business relaionships. Straight forward tell it like it is can breed long term relationships. Trying to be smooth and come across fake, might work once or twice, but will never earn you a repeat or referral business that we all need and rely on to build a bigger better future. - by zen_gar
I just read this again and thought all the new members should look at this, this is one of the best treads IMO. thmbp2; - by Tony Dunne
"The "nice guys" who succeed want continued success more than nearly anything else in life." From experience I have found that my biggest problem wasn't with customers, rather with management who don't practice what they preach (at job interviews you'll be asked about problem solving, but try doing something outside of the box when you work for these companies who are unimaginative even though your sales performance is quite good).

Leo Durocher has been quoted, with some element of truth, that "nice guys finish last." I think you'll be hitting more on the nail by switching from nice to professional. - by Wonderboy
Fantastic POst - by Snowboy
That says alot coming from someone who posts like you do to.msnwnk; - by Snowboy
My kudos with the rest for BrandonH's insights, especially "the idea that a worthy desire in life (being liked) can become an unhealthy preoccupation and hindrance to success."

Is it possible that the opposite is also true, that a "worthy desire in life (being successful) can become an unhealthy preoccupation and hindrance to success?" When I think about "wanting continued success more than anything else in life" I ask, more than my family and children? More than my self-respect?

I've met and worked with a lot of salespeople who experience this dilemma as an "either/or" problem. Either I'm nice (and people like me) but my business suffers, or I'm tough-minded (and make sales) but don't develop trusting, sustained positive relationships. Suppose, as Brandon H suggests, we reframe this as a "both/and" creative problem: how can I be both "nice" and "tough" at the same time – without needing to give away my business to please people or step on others to get ahead. How can I be both "professional" and "caring" at the same time? It's like a pendulum swinging back and forth (often wildly) between extremes of "passive" and "aggressive" behavior. The "sweet spot" is the middle range in which we can be both strongly assertive and supportive/nurturing, depending on the situation.

If we were to talk about "root causes," I know when I go too far on one or another extreme of the pendulum swing, I need to stop and figure out what the fear or concern is that triggers my unhealthy behavior so I can deal with it myself and not put my issues on my customers.


Also – Right on the money Jorel!!! - by tom behr
NIce comment Tom - by Snowboy
I think that this is a great post.

I think there is a difference between nice and being sincere. Those who succeed, I think are more sincere - they are believable. Think about it, being nice is something that can be faked so easily by a skilled salesperson, being sincere is something that go beyonds it.

When a CEO asks their assistant about a sales person, do you think they are wise enough to tell the difference? I say yes.

Now, if you put an aggresive sales person - we all know the one who has the hand on the shoulder guiding the customer where they should be - around a truely sincere salesperson, they become nervous and worried. Sincerity is a trait that is sensed.

I will post more later, I want to see what your thoughts are about this. - by Ed Callais
I love this insight. Very true. Being liked is a great key to success in sales. However, being RESPECTED ranks equal to or even above. As a female in a male dominated business, I think it's especially important to be respected for your abilities. Sales is a time investment . . . . the longer you're in it, the better you do IFyou're in it for the long term. I have also found that when you stand up for yourself and your product, and people know they can't walk all over you~ sales INCREASE. Hey, let's face it . . . . do people want a NICE lawyer or a results oriented lawyer.
I agree, being respected is actually far more important to sales success than being thought of as nice or being liked.


In most sales situations, you can be nice and be respected. - by JacquesWerth
The big difference between the "nice salespeople" who succeed vs. those who fail is this:

Those who succeed are focused on their goals and results, and treat people well along the way. Those who fail are often caught up in how they treat people, how they come across as treating people, and how much people like them, while the results are left hanging in the balance.
Wildly Successful salespeople have all three of the following qualities: Helpfulness, assertiveness, likability, and A burning desire to make sales happen (and eight other qualities as well). So, in my mind, being a top performer requires several qualities and it's not really an either/or issue, which is kind of what you're saying (I think). - by Skip Anderson
Wildly Successful salespeople have all three of the following qualities: Helpfulness, assertiveness, likability, and A burning desire to make sales happen (and eight other qualities as well). So, in my mind, being a top performer requires several qualities and it's not really an either/or issue, which is kind of what you're saying (I think).
Skip,

I think what your saying is every top performer has a vareity of qualities like every well prepared dish has a variety of different spices. I guess that is why I had to take an art, foreign language, history and a variety of other classes in college in order to satisfy my basic requiments. Why don't you share you other 8 qualities with us? - by Jorel
Skip,

I think what your saying is every top performer has a vareity of qualities like every well prepared dish has a variety of different spices. I guess that is why I had to take an art, foreign language, history and a variety of other classes in college in order to satisfy my basic requiments. Why don't you share you other 8 qualities with us?
Jorel,
Yes, a variety of qualities like a well prepared dish! That's a very good analogy.

Here are all twelve qualities of Wildly Successful Salespeople, at least in my thinking:
1. A Burning Desire to Make Sales Happen
2. Accountability
3. Assertiveness
4. Bouncebackability
5. Constantly Improving
6. Hard Working
7. Helpfulness
8. High energy, with focus
9. Likability
10. Perceptivenss, Skepticalness, & Wisdom (PSW)
11. Persuasiveness
12. Tenaciousness

The best to you! - by Skip Anderson
Jorel,
Yes, a variety of qualities like a well prepared dish! That's a very good analogy.

Here are all twelve qualities of Wildly Successful Salespeople, at least in my thinking:
1. A Burning Desire to Make Sales Happen
2. Accountability
3. Assertiveness
4. Bouncebackability
5. Constantly Improving
6. Hard Working
7. Helpfulness
8. High energy, with focus
9. Likability
10. Perceptivenss, Skepticalness, & Wisdom (PSW)
11. Persuasiveness
12. Tenaciousness
The best to you!
How about adding the following?
Trustworthy
Courteous
Kind
Cheerful
Thrifty
Clean
Attractive
Referent
Perserverent
Intelligent
Quick Thinking
Articulate
Tall
Well Dressed
Persuasive
Humble
Wise - by JacquesWerth
I'm not sure how carefully you looked over my list before you offered your opinion.

Persuasive and Wise were already in my list. Perserverent is on my list if you're willing to live with "Tenacious". Attractiveness could be considered part of likable, which is on my list. Attractiveness could be considered part of likable, which is on my list. Courteous, Kind, and cheerful can all be part of being likable; Likability is the core trait that's common to top performers.

The remainder of your list are not qualities that top sales performers have in common. There are many top sales performers who are not well dressed (being well dressed is not important in every type of selling). Also, being humble or articulate or intelligent or thrifty are not qualities that are shared by all top performers. Being tall is not a quality of all top sales performers. Referent is a word that isn't an adjective, so I'm not sure what you meant by that. - by Skip Anderson
I'm not sure how carefully you looked over my list before you offered your opinion.
I was invited to a long lunch in the executive dining room at the headquarters of one of America's largest insurance companies. There were seven senior vice-presidents and me. They had all started as rookie agents and come up through the ranks.

At one point I asked them what qualities they required in new agents they hire. I took out a pad and wrote down everything they said as they all joined in to make a list.

When they were all through, I asked them each, one at a time, whether he met most of the qualities that I listed. Two of the seven said "Yes," and all the others agreed that it was only those two.

Could it be that there are other qualities, aptitudes, attitudes, character traits, and behavioral patterns that might be even more important? - by JacquesWerth
When they were all through, I asked them each, one at a time, whether he met most of the qualities that I listed. Two of the seven said "Yes," and all the others agreed that it was only those two.
Sorry, Jacques, I'm not following you. Who is "he"?

You said, "And all the others agreed that it was only those two". Those two what? I'm not following.

Please clarify! Thanks! - by Skip Anderson
Sorry, Jacques, I'm not following you. Who is "he"?

You said, "And all the others agreed that it was only those two". Those two what? I'm not following.

Please clarify! Thanks!
Sorry for the lack of clarity.
"He" is each of the vice presidents at that meeting.

"Those two," are the two (out of seven) vice presidents that did have the same qualities that they all agreed were necessary for new hires. - by JacquesWerth
Brandon, in sales "being nice" and "being successful" aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. I'm not positive but I'm reasonably sure that in my 30+ years selling, no one "disliked" me.

In point of fact, I'd like to think that I could call-back everyone and be remembered in favorable tones. In each company, I tried my darndest to meet an array of people. On the one hand, I felt that my sales efforts would cross numerous departments, so, broad support would be beneficial. On the other, it made the job enjoyable.

I tried to communicate with these contacts and, where possible, I involved them in "the process". Throughout the 30 year adventure, I've worked diligently to maintain a network. A fair number of those on my network are past clients. Where the relationship started, I never "tried to be nice", rather, I tried to be considerate and professional. When I call someone from the network a friend, I genuinely mean "friend" in the warmest sense.

I think the bottomline is: if you are a in the right trade, you'll make friends whatever you're doing!

Good luck & good selling!
Pat - by OUTSource Sales
Brandon, in sales "being nice" and "being successful" aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. Pat
AGREED and confused.

I looked up the definition of "nice" in the Merriam-Webster and the Encarta dictionaries. The word "nice" has so many different meanings that it is highly subjective and almost meaningless.

Many salespeople who refer to themselves as "nice" feel prospects are more important than themselves, or act that way. Those salespeople go overboard in complying with a prospect’s every demand. They tend to be overly courteous – to the point of appearing obsequious.

The "nice" that Pat described seems to be indicative of relationships of mutual trust and respect betwwen equals. Courtesy, consideration and cooperation occur naturally in those relationships. - by JacquesWerth
Jorel,
Yes, a variety of qualities like a well prepared dish! That's a very good analogy.

Here are all twelve qualities of Wildly Successful Salespeople, at least in my thinking:
1. A Burning Desire to Make Sales Happen
2. Accountability
3. Assertiveness
4. Bouncebackability
5. Constantly Improving
6. Hard Working
7. Helpfulness
8. High energy, with focus
9. Likability
10. Perceptivenss, Skepticalness, & Wisdom (PSW)
11. Persuasiveness
12. Tenaciousness

The best to you!
I've said it before, but it bears repeating. Being analytical and bisociative has directly led to wild sales success for me and, indirectly, for others. - by Wonderboy
I've said it before, but it bears repeating. Being analytical and bisociative has directly led to wild sales success for me and, indirectly, for others.
Bisociative? Is that a condition? What would be an example of that directly leading to sales success? - by Seth
This is quite an excellent and thought provoking post. Being that I'm nursing my wounds from a bad situation - and that I'm trying to figure out what is wrong with my personality that I've allowed customers to walk on me - this post really resonates.

I believe I have been and always am sincere, forthright, and very pleasant with my customers and prospects. I've never had any not like me. But - herein lies some problems. I need to temper my niceness with keeping my eyes on my own prize - not so much on theirs. There has never ONCE been a situation where sacrificing my time for something I'm not being paid to do has ever resulted in a benefit for my own betterment. You could go into the karmic and spiritual side of that - but I won't do that here.

So yes, I need to focus very hard on how to be nice enough to be the person I really am ... but not so nice that I neglect to keep myself moving swiftly towards my goals.

I'll be thinking a lot about this.

(Excellent story from Jorel too!) - by LM-2008
The more we forget about ourselves, whether on a date or across the desk from a prospect, the better the result. Being self conscious (or should I say too self conscious?) stops us from focusing on them.

I cannot help but think about a comment made by Skip in another thread on an dissimilar topic;

It isn't about the product. It's about the prospect.
It really is about them, isn't it? - by Gold Calling
This is quite an excellent and thought provoking post. Being that I'm nursing my wounds from a bad situation - and that I'm trying to figure out what is wrong with my personality that I've allowed customers to walk on me - this post really resonates.

I believe I have been and always am sincere, forthright, and very pleasant with my customers and prospects. I've never had any not like me. But - herein lies some problems. I need to temper my niceness with keeping my eyes on my own prize - not so much on theirs. There has never ONCE been a situation where sacrificing my time for something I'm not being paid to do has ever resulted in a benefit for my own betterment. You could go into the karmic and spiritual side of that - but I won't do that here.

So yes, I need to focus very hard on how to be nice enough to be the person I really am ... but not so nice that I neglect to keep myself moving swiftly towards my goals.

I'll be thinking a lot about this.

(Excellent story from Jorel too!)
Servicebiz, thanks for your post.

Top sales performers have 12 qualities. Three of the twelve are: helpfulness (or niceness, if you prefer), a burning desire to make deals, and assertiveness (which, by the way, is distinctly different from aggressiveness).

So go ahead and be nice to your prospects. Be really nice.

But also make sure that, in addition to niceness, you have a burning desire to make sales (that's what salespeople get paid to do) and assertiveness (respect for all involved including yourself). You need all three of those qualities to be a top performer.

The best to you! - by Skip Anderson
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