Last month, we held our running Business-Minded Bookworm book club meeting via Zoom, in which we discussed Jeb Blount’s People Buy You: The Real Secret to What Matters Most in Business. The title of the book is self-explanatory, people typically base their buying decisions off the personality of the one who is making them the offer instead of the options that are presented to them. To put things in layman’s terms, there are many places where you can get your car washed, your haircut, your pet-care; however, you choose to go where you go because you’re convinced that you will not be treated better elsewhere. There are many key takeaways from People Buy You, from which we narrowed our top five favorites:

Be Likable

As described in Chapter 2, Friends Buy from Friends and Other Urban Myths, “Likability is the gateway to connections and ultimately relationships.” Before two parties enter a transaction deal, there is an underlying factor that causes said parties to want to do business with one other, which is likely because they are fond of one another. Once people find each other likable, there’s an invisible door that opens to emotional connections, trust, and ultimately business relationships. Likability is one of the key elements that determine whether someone can be profitable in business because simply put, it will be difficult to earn a living if others don’t find you likable. Being likable has to do with making a conscious effort to being aware of where you are and those around you; pushing your thoughts aside; and keeping a smile on your face even if initially you have to fake it.


In business, most tend to view connections as “building rapport” with an individual, reflecting a script or checkbox, which is, in fact, unauthentic and uncomfortable to accomplish. Making a connection instead should be a genuine pursuit of understanding your client in hopes of solving his or her problems. In Chapter 4, Connect, Blount tells the story of how Jennifer, a sophomore in college, managed to close an ad deal with the owner of the local Ford dealership on her first day as an advertising salesperson, at the school’s newspaper. A task that was once perceived to be impossible by Jennifer’s boss, the editor-in-chief, a year ago. The issue was that the owner of the Ford dealership became frustrated over the fact that the previous salesperson was not responsive and did not show the dealership the respect he thought it deserved. By allowing him to vent, Jennifer expressed a genuine interest in helping the owner of the Ford dealership solve his problems, which in turn got her to close the deal. In conclusion, Blount states, “The owner of the dealership didn’t buy the paper, a sales pitch, or price. He bought Jennifer because she was likable, listened to him, made him feel important, and solved his problem.”

Solve Problems

While being likable and making genuine connections are important, the meat and potatoes of being successful in business are strongly tied to solving problems. The discrepancy in the attempt to solve problems is the “pump and dump” approach as explained by Blount on pages 101 and 102. It is the tendency to neglect the client’s concerns through assumptions based on case studies of success stories before engaging the said client. Case in point, when pitching services, salespeople tend to talk about their company, values, mission, products, promises, etc., which have proven to be a failed approach. On the other hand, the effective strategy should account for identifying the prospect’s areas that are in need of improvement and proposing specific solutions to alleviate those pain points.

Build Trust

According to Steven R. Covey, author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, trust is comparable to making deposits into an “emotional bank account,” and building the account requires consistent deposits or consistent evidence that one is trustworthy. As continuous deposits are made into “the emotional bank account” such as consistent commitment and deliveries on promises, the trust will grow. To add to this analogy, there is a level of vulnerability that comes with a customer agreeing to a service from a company. In the agreement, said customer is expecting the company to deliver, which will in turn put the customer in a position to better perform. Failed results could cause adverse impacts on the customer’s company, career, or business outcomes. As a result, building trust is the foundation; getting people to do business with you comes easy when they trust you.

Create Positive Emotional Experiences

It is easier to initiate friendships or relationships than it is to maintain them, for that reason it is necessary to incentivize relationships by creating positive emotional experiences. Think of an anchor, its purpose is to hold a ship in place against currents, wind, tide, and storms; similarly, positive emotional experiences can do the same for relationships. As complex as it may sound, positive emotional experiences are easy to create; for instance, it is as simple as following-up with a former client to find out how she/he is doing 30 days after a transaction is complete. Such action is likely to come across as a genuine act of kindness as opposed to a sales pitch, which gives the impression that you prioritize the emotional well-being of the client over satisfying your bottom line. The byproduct of creating positive emotional experiences is reaping the benefits of the law of reciprocity, which opens the door for others to create positive emotional experiences for you, strengthening relationships that will be beneficial for years down the line.

Here’s a video excerpt from our last Business-Minded Bookworms meeting from Founding Principal Amy Calandrino: