SalesSometimes you can do everything right and still lose the sale. Why? Because the buyers simply don’t like you or your approach. Sometimes in an effort to be professional we can be read as mechanical, sterile, and heartless.

Sure, it’s a thin line between too much information and not providing enough to gain credibility. But there comes a time in every sales process when you have to show enough of your true self to be considered authentic and sincere by the purchasing party. Buyers want to identify at some level with the folks who are selling them. They want to know something that they have in common with the seller. It helps them justify the purchase. It helps them gain a feeling of trust.

Seasoned salespeople know from experience just how much is enough and how much is too much. First of all you have to be relatively confident with yourself and your product. Some people have issues with becoming personable at all. They think they can hide behind ceremonious form to avoid any kind of personal exposure. But their prospect may feel uncomfortable and ultimately see the form itself as tedious and they soon lose interest. This is what’s wrong with form letters and standard approaches.

Some people think that being mysterious will somehow lure others in and make them want to know more. We have found this approach tends to be read as insincere and somewhat devious. Prospects who don’t even know you now are faced with an added barrier to open communication – mystery. They wonder what your true motives are. We have found that they not only don’t want to discover the mystery, but they want to get away from those who try to use this or any other kind dramatic tactics.

The winning approach is to find something you have in common with your prospect before you ever go into your pitch. You’ll be glad you did because in the process you will learn how your prospect communicates and what their priorities are. This will help you immensely to craft a tailored approach for each of the unique prospects you meet.

We did business over the years with many Japanese colleagues and buyers. In their business culture, it is considered rude to pitch before some commonality has been established. It was not unusual for us to spend the first entire session talking about, you guessed it, the weather. After that it was sports or favorite movies.

Today, when we cold-call a prospect for a speaking event we like to set it up on Skype or some other video conferencing service so we can see each other. That increases the human touch right there. Then we usually ask them about the weather they are having and share ours. We also have learned enough about them and their company previously to comment favorably on some current event that effected them, like, “Congratulations on that recent merger,” or “You guys are really making a difference with your new program.”

Keep the conversation light to establish engagement, humor and trust. Remember their judgment about you takes place in the first 20 seconds and thereafter tends only to validate that initial impression. So take the time to establish friendly relations first. People want to cooperate with people they like. It’s as simple as that. So do they like you? What have you done to make yourself believable, likable, and friendly? We have found that initially folks must “buy” you before they will ever consider buying your product or service. First make friends; then make the sale!

Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact