People buy brand not people!

This seems to rapidly becoming a favorite platitude, particularly in the world of membership business networking, but it is not really true. People buy based on the perceived value of brand not the personalty of the seller.

Sure, the old boys network exists where we buy from school buddies, club or church members but this is only when all other things are equal. In many instances, purchasing on this basis could lose the buyer their job.

When was the time you bought an inferior product because you liked the person? We have all done it but it is rare.

In economic terms, the demand for personality is relatively elastic.

Please don’t confuse this with personalities that are brands – Oprah, Martha Stewart and Nigella Lawson have tremendous personality value.

When great salespeople leave great companies and go to the competition it is rare for them to take much business. When it does happen it is because the product or service is a commodity or not very good. People may prefer to buy from people they like but first they buy based on their own priorities, which usually include price, perceived brand value and confidence.

We will buy because the seller has a compelling message but not because we “know, like and trust” them. If this were true our High Streets would not be filled with faceless chain stores and we would not shop at mega big box stores. In fact, as a nation, we have turned our backs on those we ‘know, like and trust’ and consistently bought on price! In 1960 we all bought based on the ‘know, like and trust’ formula – a very small percentage of us still do – but it is rare. The booming economy of China is testament to how much we choose to do business with people we ‘know, like and trust’. Today is Boxing day and the stores are filled will people buying strictly on price! Sure how much we like someone does play a factor but people will do business with people they dislike if the price is low enough.

The expression ‘nice guys finish last’ doesn’t fit with the philosophy of ‘like, know and trust’ but there is a lot of truth to its meaning.

Of course if your product has a personality element – for example you’re a professional speaker or a trainer then being known, liked and trusted will play a role but those examples are rare and only if the quality is there. In fact, large companies will avoid dealing with sole-traders and very small businesses because they don’t want the business relationship to depend on an individual personality.

In major corporations buyers are encouraged not to develop personal relationships with suppliers because businesses want to make certain that purchasing is done on merit. Buyers with professional accreditation are trained not to let personality enter the buying equation.

In terms of ‘brand value’ ‘know, like and trust’ is tremendously important but it is wrong to confuse this with buying from somebody because we like them.

In sales, it is important to be ‘nice and likable’ but it is more important to have a verifiable value, based on the specific combination of price, quality and dependability that the buyer needs.

I am of the opinion that the people talking about ‘know, like and trust’ (paid network membership organizations) are trying to promote their own approach to growing business which entails paying them for access to other business people. And because it takes time to build relationships then people who have not been successful just haven’t invested enough time – convenient for their sales model based on annual membership.

Smart, intelligent, informed selling is what works.

By all means keep working on your smile, handshake and 40 second introduction but also fine-tune your pitch and get in front of some buyers and actually sell!

News Reporter