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“People Buy From People They…”

January 25, 2024
"People Buy From People They…"

How many times have we heard the expression that people buy from people they like? It’s a popular saying because it’s a reminder of why it’s so important to build relationships and earn trust – to put the customer at ease. There’s an inherent uneasiness between two people if they feel they’re about to have a completely one-sided transaction, meaning you’re there to ask them to part ways with their money. And if they feel that’s all you’re there for, they will be hesitant to feel good about the process. That’s true whether you’re in person or on the phone.

And while people do buy from people they like, there is the other side of the coin – people also buy from people who like them. So remember to sprinkle in some appropriate compliments when talking about their interests.

Your homeowner wants to know that you value them and that you like them. They don’t want to feel like they’re just a sales commission or a service call for you. So how do we get people to like us, and how do we let people know we like them?

It’s very simple. It’s just a matter of showing genuine interest. Genuine means never faked. It means it never feels forced. It means they feel that even if they don’t buy from you, you have enjoyed getting to know them a little more.

I talk about Zig Ziglar a good deal. He had an acronym he used when approaching a stranger for a sale: F-O-R-M. It means to talk to the customer about things that they likely want to talk about most. The time to close the deal isn’t here yet, but you’ll never arrive there without sincere interest in the customer first. Here’s what F-O-R-M stands for:

Material possessions

When you talk about these topics, you’re trying to discover a common language, or common interests, to show you are at least somewhat similar to your customer. Find a connection between their environment and yours. The idea is to get to a place where the conversation flows without it being forced, because you both are interested in hearing more and because they are now at ease with you.

Remember to be aware of your surroundings and pick up on clues or hints. If you hear a dog barking, you might ask its name or its breed. If you also own a dog, work that information into the conversation when it’s right.

Start by asking questions that have nothing to do with the repair, service, or new sale. This can go a long way towards building the relationship and setting yourself apart from the competition. Maybe they’re in a particular area of town where you just completed an install. “Hey, we just did a job for Mrs. Jones over on Main Street. Do you happen to know her?”


Ask respectful and general questions about their family. It would not be obtrusive to ask someone if they are married and if they have kids. Or how many kids they have and their ages, for example. You may even hear a baby crying in the house somewhere, and that is a natural transition into family questions.

“Did you grow up here?” “How long have you lived in this great house?” “When did you know you wanted a family this size?”


You’ll find that when two people meet for the first time, even outside of a sales call, they often break the ice with questions about each other’s profession or occupation. A fly on the wall will tell you it’s the most-discussed question after finding out each other’s names.

Customers want to feel like you’re asking about their job because you’re interested, not because you’re trying to qualify them or their income. So no matter the occupation answer they give, do not make a judgment or remark that will make them feel uncomfortable, because that would be shooting yourself in the foot. There is no singular occupation that automatically rules them out from being able to purchase an HVAC system or have one repaired.

“What do you do for a living?” “Do you enjoy working there?” “How long have you worked there?” “At what age did you know you wanted to be in that line of work?”


While discussions about family and career may be more common, you’ll find that recreation is what people enjoy talking about the most. It can feel more personal to them. Some people don’t exactly choose their family, or love their chosen career, but their hobbies are indeed chosen and exclusive to themselves. If this topic doesn’t come up on its own, feel free to ask generic questions about it. But if you’re in someone’s home already, their hobbies are likely somewhere out in the open – a tennis racket in the corner, a picture on the shelf of the family on a cruise, a deer head on the wall, a video game console near the TV, a refrigerator magnet of a foreign city, etc.

If you see a set of golf clubs in the garage, you can bring that up even if you’re not much of a golfer yourself. “I noticed your clubs earlier, and I’ve always wanted to get better at golf. Where would you send me to practice my swing?” Asking for their advice is a great way to show them you like them. We normally don’t ask advice from people we dislike, do we?

“Did you play tennis in high school?” “That cruise picture looked great. Was the trip awesome?” “Did you bag that deer by yourself, or were you with others?” “Is Mazatlan the one with the Mayan ruins?”

Material possessions

You might be surprised how quickly people open up when asked about certain belongings. They take pride in the type of vehicle they drive, their dream boat they finally bought, or even their odd collection of something like board games, rocks, or rare books.

Just be warned that the topic of material possessions has the potential to eat up a lot of time if you go too far down the rabbit hole. If you ask too many questions about his new boat, you may end up on a full tour from the tip of the bow to the Evinrude 300 (that’s the motor). Try your best to show genuine interest while being aware of personal and time boundaries.

You can also see where the customer chooses to spend their money, by how much they appear to adore a given possession, and which level they purchased. If the possession is their car, what was their baseline? Is any part of it upgraded, like the interior, the rims, or the paint? The answers are clues into how important this possession is and how much of themselves they’ve put into it. Was it a passion project, like restoring a 1970 Corvette Stingray?

There’s a reason the phrase “prized possession” exists, and if your customer shares that information with you, consider the ice broken, as you’re likely on your way to an amicable presentation.

“Wow! That looks great. How long did it take to restore that?” “Is that a custom paint job?” “About how many times would you say you’ve read that rare book?” “Did you find that gemstone yourself, or was it somewhere like an auction?”


At the end of the day, we know sales can happen when there is a transference of emotion. Any type of business interaction, whether you’re a CSR, service tech, or a comfort advisor, contains a transference of emotion. When you and the customer like each other, the transference can occur. The great feeling of liking, being liked in return, and the excitement about the product all add up to “This is what I should buy, and I should buy it today.”

Small talk is one thing, but a customer can tell if you’re going through the motions or if you genuinely care about their answers regarding their family, occupation, recreation, and material possessions. Remember to practice this until it becomes second nature. Your sales will match your effort.