Know, Like and Trust: It’s not enough.

People do business with people they Know, Like, and Trust (KLT, for short).

It’s not a statement that many people will argue with, but it’s incomplete. Saying that people stay alive by breathing air, eating food, and drinking water is also true. Yes, you do need all three of these things; but how you get them, getting them in the right proportion, and getting the proper quality of them all matter as well. Then there are the additional things you need in order to have a life worth staying alive for, and it’s not always clear what those are.

I noticed long ago that people spend a lot of time focusing on KLT. Things get buddy-buddy. They do lots of “1-on-1 meetings.” They hang out “building relationships” and trying to be helpful. Yet they never get around to actually selling anything. You can do KLT until the cows come home, but if you can’t deliver the goods, if you can’t close a deal, you’re just another nice guy or gal in the queue. Do it long enough, and it will be the unemployment queue.

There’s a lot to cover about this subject, so let me give you a primer, some key points to chew on, before you call me to go deeper.

1. Trust starts with empathy. Empathy opens the door.

How are you at establishing that emotional connection from the outset? 

2. A system — a clear approach to what you do — demonstrates competency.  You don’t want a surgeon or an airline pilot to make things up as they go along. You rely on them to follow a plan, to use checklists, and to have clear strategies thought out in advance for what to do in pretty much any circumstance. If you found out they were “winging it,” you would be off the plane or out of the surgery ASAP.

Do you have systems, or are you winging it?

3. If you want to establish real trust and stay on the inside once you are through the door, you need also to demonstrate that you:

    • are reliable
    • have integrity
    • are authentic
    • are competent

How are you demonstrating these qualities now?

4. Knowing how you do your business frees you up and lets you be you while you are still being a professional.

Do you really know how you do business? Is it written down?

5. You need to have a system for selling so that you can continue with the KLT while you follow a path that leads to sales. Otherwise, you are just socializing.

What is your system? Do you have one?

6. When you really know your product, your tech, your presentation, your skills, you can relax and be authentic.  Authenticity helps you to connect with people.

How well do you know everything about your offering?

7. Premature Demonstration Syndrome kills KLT. Too often reps do data dumps such that the buyer is overwhelmed with facts. Those facts frequently have little connection with what the buyer wants to know.

How are you avoiding PDS now?

8. The solution to PDS is asking questions, the right questions. You need to ask questions that get to the heart of people’s concerns. Remember that the heart of their concerns is always emotional and always personal.

Are you asking questions that take you to a deeper understanding or just doing safe, intellectual, surface stuff?

9. People do not connect on facts. They connect on feelings. To phrase it differently: people connect on why, not on what.

How are you connecting to people on their WHY versus their WHAT?

Michael Stammer is a Sales | Life | Performance coach available for individual and group coaching and speaking to organizations. For more visit

Header photo by PATRICE OUELLET used under Creative Commons License.
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