Dear Zuess,I thought we were friends

I lost a listing this week and I just can’t figure out what went wrong!

The seller was an acquaintance and we had been talking about his move for several months. He called the other day and told me he was listing with Sam Behali, a team leader in my area.

I was shocked, but managed to stay composed enough to ask him what lead to that decision. He told me that he and Sam were friends and that he felt most comfortable listing with him. He never mentioned being friends with Sam before. What the heck happened?

Christie McNicoll


Dear Christie,

That’s a tough one, but I’m glad you wrote so that we can cover a really important lesson about the depths of the persuasion principles.

Persuasion principles are scientifically proven principles that move people to make favourable decisions. There are thousands of books and millions of articles written about the persuasion principles. To be successful, top salespeople in all fields must have a strong working knowledge of these principles.

One of the main persuasion principles is referred to variably as “commonality”, “similarity”, or “friendship”. It basically states that people prefer to do business with someone who is similar to them – someone who they feel is their friend.

Your situation is tricky since you actually were acquainted with the seller. My bet is that “Sam” developed a sense of friendship in a way that built trust, which is what landed him the listing.

Excellent salespeople are able to establish this sense of “friendship” or “sameness” very quickly and very naturally throughout the sales process. They do this by asking a lots of questions and listening to the answers.

In your interactions, you need to find what you have in common with the seller. You have to listen for hints as to what is most important to the prospect. Ultimately, if you do these things well, then you will be able to respond in a way that resonates with the seller, and they begin to feel a kinship with you.

Another tip is to be highly observant while touring their home. Search for clues about what they are passionate about, such as recognition certificates, photographs, trophies, or unique household items – anything that you can ask them about, which can potentially unveil a shared interest or commonality.

Most top salespeople that I work with have become masters at making people feel like they are friends. They do this by deliberately being interested in the person and by making sure that they are authentically communicating that interest.

In the future, channel the persuasion principles and focus on building strong, meaningful relationships with your prospects – you’ll find that friendship and business do mix!