Given a binary choice – be liked or respected, which would you choose? Could choosing one over the other enhance or hinder your professional results – both from a leadership or sales viewpoint?

I’ve often pondered this question.

I like most of us want to be liked. It’s natural. But is that the only arbiter of successful selling and leadership?

I would humbly suggest being respected is more important than being liked. And of course, being both liked and respected is what we should strive for.

Let’s put this into a sales context.

Selling is about being able have conversations with prospects which provide insight into issues they’re facing.

However you have to be able to reach them and start a conversation in the first place. And a fear of not being liked or rejected stops us prospecting.

Research by OMG Group analyzing thousands of sales interactions highlighted…

Sellers who don’t NEED to be liked are 47% more able to reach decision makers.

Sellers who don’t NEED to be liked are 51% more likely to close deals.

Kenny Baldo, GM of 3d Signals says, “”The need to be liked is a disease. When one is not at ease they can’t be showing up as the best version of themselves.”

To paraphrase Dan Caramanico who has over 5 decades experience…

“The need to be liked affects every aspect of the sales process. It can cause you to resist techniques or practices you feel are too aggressive. As such you would rather have prospects like you than have them buy.”

My take on this is while we all want to be liked, garnering respect from our buyers is far more important.

Positioning yourself as a credible expert means you can ask prospects difficult questions which provide advice and insights into issues they haven’t yet confronted.

By being respectful and firm in your standing, prospects will reciprocate understanding you have their best interests at heart.

They will treat you as a peer whose expertise and opinion is valued.

Which will inevitably lead to more sales and long term, profitable relationships.

And the same is true for leadership. Effective leaders prioritize respect (both given and received) over being liked. Having said that, it’s nice to have both

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