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3 Ways to Become More Likable (That Your Competitors Don't Know About)

02/12/2015 10:07 am ET | Updated Apr 07, 2015

2015-02-05-ArelMoodie.pngAuthor Arel Moodie is a best-selling author, authority on likability, professional speaker and the host of The Art of Likability, a top business/career podcast on iTunes.

Let's assume you have a great product or service. Let's assume you have a price that fits your market. Let's assume you solve a major problem for people. Sounds like a great group of ingredients for a successful business, right? Not necessarily. If there are others that do something similar to you, you have to learn how to stand out.

There is a game-changing way to separate yourself from your competitors, and that's to leverage the power of likability. The more likable your brand and your team is, the more people will be drawn to you. However, be forewarned -- as Scott Deming, author of "Powered by Purpose," told me during an interview, "Likability without substance, value and relevance is simply not enough." If all you are is likable but you can't deliver on your promise, you will fail. But if you have a good product or service and good values, likability will be the key to creating an impenetrable moat around your business.

Jason Dorsey, Chief Strategy Officer at the Center for Generational Kinetics, is an expert on emerging trends and talked to me about their findings. He said, "Likability has never been more important due to the transparency of information in each experience. This ranges from employment rating services like glassdoor.com to customer experiences like yelp.com and social media. Every interaction is magnified in a good way or bad way due to technology; likability is the one thread that cuts across all experiences."

Likability is a surefire way to build relationships with people. It's a tool, in the same way having a good product, trustworthy sales experience and genuinely caring are tools.

What's more, likability isn't something that some people are born with and others are not. There is a process to it that any professional or business can start implementing. Here are three tips for how to increase the likability of your business and your brand:

  1. Be hyper-responsive. Make it a goal to get back to clients or prospects quickly. Get back as fast as you possibly can, even if it's to say, "I received your message and will get back to you soon." You know you've done this right when your clients/prospects say "Wow! Thanks for getting back to me so quickly." It's almost ridiculous that people in the sales or client service industry don't see the importance of this. Make people feel special. Show them you care. If you are not just responsive but hyper-responsive, you will win business.
  2. Use small talk as a way to gain crucial information. Most people engage in small talk as simply a pleasantry or a way to pass time as they transition into or out of a conversation. Instead, use small talk as a secret tool. Find out if they like a particular sports team, or if their child is in the school play. Most people hear this information then completely forget about it. Instead, you should remember a detail about them and then put it into a "Warm and Fuzzy File" on the person in your CRM. Then when you speak to them next, you can bring up their file and ask how little Suzie did in her big performance. It adds a human touch to your conversations with people. It shows you care. There is an old Chinese proverb that says "the faintest ink is more powerful than the strongest memory." There is a reason to write things down. You do it for important things in your life in your calendar; do it for important people in your business' life.
  3. Do something they wouldn't expect. Go ahead; give them a discount they qualify for but didn't know about. Throw in something for free. Add some extra time to their warranty. Blow their mind with something special. The sky is the limit. It doesn't have to be something that costs you money. Maybe you send them an article that could help them in an area that you remembered was a problem of theirs. It shows you are different. Most people only care about clients/prospects as a source of money -- they don't see them as humans with feelings and emotions.
Doing something clients or prospects don't expect shows that you care and have their best interests in mind. As a bonus strategy, treat a prospect that isn't able to do business with you currently with the same respect as someone who is. Often business professionals will totally be turned off by a prospect once they have been disqualified. But even though they may not be a good fit now, they may be a good fit later. And if they had a great experience with you, you could be planning for tomorrow, today.

Likability is a way for you to excel past your competitors and offer a one of a kind experience for the people who do business with you. In today's world, it pays to be likable but this means nothing if you genuinely don't care. As Jason Dorsey points out, "When you are likable, people will know. When you are not, even more people will know."