Is "Know, Like & Trust" Enough? For Some, It's not Everything, It's the Only Thing

Bob Burg, author of "Go Givers Sell More", says that all other things being equal (and sometimes not), people do business with those they know, like and trust. But in a series of blog posts this week, Bob has asked the question "Is it enough?" What!? Is he losing his faith in the value of networking? Am I? Of course not. By asking this question, Bob is taking us deeper into the idea of loyalty and the value of what we have to offer.

His first post asked "is know, like and trust everything?" Generally speaking, with all things being equal or close to equal, it is enough but not always everything. I've even done business with the more expensive person because I knew, liked and/or trusted them that much. There are times when it's not enough. Someone is much higher priced; although I think perhaps that's a trust issue. You don't believe that they are providing the added value. Someone might be very inconveniently located. Although I knew a woman who will drove over an hour each way to get her hair cut. And someone just might not have the exact product you wanted. Although if you liked them enough, they might be able to talk you into something else. Sometimes you just don't have the price/product/delivery options or mix that the customer wants, even though they know, like and trust you.

So my concluding comment to this question was that it is "enough" enough of the time that you would be foolish to ignore it.

But now that I think about it, I know there are business people for whom it is everything. And if you don't put it at the absolute forefront of all that you do, you will completely fail in your business.

Which business people? Imagine two people. They have the same exact product. Same prices. Same marketing materials. Same business plan. Same distribution. Everything the same. Except for the person selling the product and running the business.

How could that be? What possible business is there where there could be not only two people with the same exact price and product, but hundreds of people with the same exact price and product?

Mary Kay, Arbonne, Avon, Tupperware, ACN, Fortune Hi Tech Marketing, Pre-Paid Legal, Juice Plus, Send Out Cards, Melaleuca ... all the hundreds of direct or "network marketing" companies.

Every person with every one of these companies has the same distribution, price, and product. The only reason you would do business with one person in the same company and not another is either: 1) you met them first or 2) you know, like and trust that person more than the other.

And you'll only stay with the first person you met as long as you develop the relationship. If your Mary Kay lady sells you once, then disappears and you need lipstick, any one of the representatives you know can get you the product. Why would you hunt down your original Mary Kay lady unless you knew, liked and trusted her more than you valued your convenience? If she hasn't created that relationship, no sweat. You can get the same exact price and product from someone you hope you'll be able to trust to stick around in the future.

So what makes the difference in whether or not you (as a direct/network marketer) will get the business?
Do they know, like and trust you?
YOU! Your personality, the way you make other people feel, your consistency and reliability, the number of people who know you, having people like you enough to refer you. These are the ONLY ways you are going to be able to distinguish your business from someone else in your company.

You'd better hope to hell that you've got this figured out. Or that you are well on your way to figuring it out. In a choice between learning more about your product or spending time developing your likeability (read Tim Sanders), getting better known, and becoming trustworthy forget about the product knowledge. People will forgive the details (come on, you've got catalogs, websites, and uplines) if you're nice. You're better off being super nice and friendly even if you don't know the details on the third iteration of the upline value proposition for the compensation plan. Tiziana Casciaro and Miguel Sousa Lobo proved it in their 2005 study titled "Competent Jerks, Lovable Fools, and the Formation of Social Networks." People would rather work with someone who didn't really do a good job, but who were really nice. And it didn't matter how good you were at the work if you were a jerk.

Since there's "only" 15 million people in the U.S. who are involved in network marketing, "know, like and trust" can't be that important, can it?

Oh wait. My brain just told me there might be a few other business people who have a similar situation: insurance agents, stockbrokers, real estate agents, mortgage lenders, grocery stores, franchises...

Do you now have a more urgent sense of the importance of getting known, becoming likable and developing trust?

Better pick up a couple of Bob Burg's books.

Better subscribe to my free weekly newsletter "The Networking Motivator."

Better do something ...


  1. Hi Beth, great post. I think that - in a sense - semantics might be coming into play just a little bit. I think it all goes back to the saying that "all things being equal (or even close enough to such)people will do business with and refer business to, those people they know like and trust. Your example regarding Networking Marketing companies and their products - I believe - makes that very point. And, and the same time, while someone might drive an hour out of their way to patronize their dentist for 20 years (as I did) they might not travel 3 hours by air and another hour by taxi or rental car to do the same thing (as I didn't). There came that certain point where "all things" simply weren't close enough to equal to continue to patronize that person who I knew, liked and trusted. Of course, if it was brain surgery, that would be different. So, I think we need to look at the various situations within their specific contexts. Of course, just my opinion.

  2. I think all of the exceptions listed (driving distance, price, selection) are perfect examples of things that are NOT equal. In business, all things are NOT equal - but may be perceived as equal by patrons (those that feel that one widget is as good as another). I think the better question is, should "know, like and trust" be something to aspire to whether or not all things are equal? I think the answer is a resounding "yes" simply because it is a great bet hedge toward your best chance for sales success.