Twelve ways to get people to want to do business with you

It’s possible to improve your charisma… which can help you in business negotiations or sales. In the latest from writer and entrepreneur Mark Ford, he explains the 12 ways you can get more out of your business relationships. 

I like to think of myself as an amiable guy, but I wouldn’t claim to be charismatic. Charismatic is an adjective I would apply to someone like Andy Lau or Tony Robbins. People are drawn to them, want to listen to them, and want to be around them.

Wouldn’t it be great to have that kind of effect on people?

Think about the advantage you’d have if you had the ability to make virtually everyone you meet like you… and want to work with you…

Such a man came to my office once. He had just taken over managing my bond account after my longtime account manager retired. I didn’t want to like this young upstart because I resented it when my old account manager left. I felt (irrationally) abandoned. But within five minutes, we were talking about cigars and martial arts. By the time he left a half-hour later (we were scheduled to meet for only 15 minutes), I had promised him more of my business. I had also given him a copy of my latest book and a $20 cigar!

He should have given me a cigar. That’s the power of charisma.

Many salespeople are charismatic. You meet them. You like them. You buy from them. Even when they don’t have the best product or the best pricing.

Charismatic people seem to have a natural ability to sell almost anything, including their ideas. They aren’t all made from the same cloth. Some are smart. Some are not. Some are good looking. Some are not. What are their secrets?

They smile a lot. And they like to chat. But do they have skills that the rest of us—those with, let’s say, ordinary social qualities – can learn?


Here are 12 ways you can become more charismatic and get more out of all your business relationships. These are “rules” I try to follow in dealing with people (some of them are based on principles identified by Robert Cialdini in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion):

1. People tend to do business with people they like. So, behave in a way that makes you likable. Be polite and patient. Avoid being crude, rude, gruff, or impatient.

2. People are attracted to people who keep their word. That means when you make a promise, do exactly what you promised. Do it by the deadline you promised – or sooner.

3. People trust people who have their best interests at heart. They will think you have their best interests at heart when you give them advice that benefits them as much as or more than it benefits you.

4. People want to do business with people who are experts in their fields. So, become an expert in your field through practice, research, training, education, and study. As you acquire that expertise, share it. Give speeches and write articles and books. Be generous with your knowledge. Know that in doing so, you are demonstrating your expertise.

5. People feel comfortable giving money to people who are authentic and honest. (That means you must be honest, frank, ethical, and aboveboard.) Believe that telling the truth is more powerful than lying, even when the lies are mendacities by omission.

6. People are attracted to people who are attractive. You don’t have to get plastic surgery, but you can eat right, exercise, dress well, and be well-groomed. And pay attention to your personal hygiene.

7. People feel better with people who seem to be “real.” The best way to do that is to admit your shortcomings when they are evident. When the conversation turns to a subject about which you know next to nothing, admit it.

8. People respond to people who listen and pay attention to what they are saying. Remember the old cliché: You have two ears and one mouth because you should listen twice as much as you should talk.

9. People feel comfortable with people who are like them. The trick here is to identify what you have in common with the other person. It could be golf, kids, pets, or anything else. Then use that to cement a bond between you.

10. People are attracted to people who are humble. So don’t brag about your successes. You can mention them, but don’t brag. If they bring them up, downplay them. Switch the topic as soon as possible to them.

11. People tend to value people (and virtually everything) that are in demand. That’s why you should never tell a prospective customer that things are slow and you really need his business. Think about doctors. How would you feel if you walked into a doctor’s office and you were the only patient? Wouldn’t you wonder how good he was? As much as you hate it when you have to sit there and wait, don’t you feel more assured when a doctor’s waiting room is packed? Of course you do.

12. People want to be surrounded by helpful people – people who make their lives easier and save them time. So make it a personal policy to attend to the needs of others – even when your purpose is to help yourself.

Which of these people-pleasing skills do you have already?

Congratulate yourself for acquiring them, and practice them more. Which ones do you still need to develop? You can’t do it overnight, but you can – and should – work on them every chance you get, which is every time you have a conversation, however short or casual, with anyone – bank president or car valet.