People Don’t Care How Much You Know Until They Know How Much You Care

That quote is from Theodore Roosevelt.  A good friend of mine that I work with had to say those words to me a couple of years ago so that I would reset.  I couldn’t figure out why I was struggling to communicate with people.  My friend told me that nobody was questioning my knowledge, but that I had a problem wanting to make sure everybody knew how knowledgeable I was.  He then told me until I showed people how much I cared, they were never going to be interested in how much I knew.  My entire business turned around with that conversation.


Humans are very interesting.  We are the only creatures who see ourselves the way we want to be seen, not the way we are.  A cat sees itself as a cat.  A dog a dog.  A human though, is never content to just be.  Even when we make a mistake, our first instinct is to blame somebody else.  We also don’t like being told what to do.  That makes it harder for us to learn and to adapt.  The worst part for sales people is we have larger egos than others.  And that makes it even harder for us to learn and adapt.

Ego is probably the largest trait of a sales person.  We have to have ego, or we couldn’t do our job.  Every day a sales person has to deal with rejection.  Every day the sales person has to overcome objection.  And every day the sales person must accept the reality that they may not close anything that day.  Those are some pretty tough standards to become accustomed to.  The good sales people overcome all of this and make a great living and enjoy life.  The bad sales people don’t read this blog, so I won’t bother saying anything else about them.


So we understand that the driving force of most sales people is ego.  And that’s a good thing, right?  Yes……and No……..  Ego is never bad, but too much can go a long way to ruining your sale and your relationship with your customer.  Remember in my very first article when I talked about the fact that nobody makes a large purchase from somebody they don’t like? The Other Side of Sales  Well that sure hasn’t changed.  People do not buy from people they don’t like, because as I say in every article, PEOPLE BUY PEOPLE, NOT PRODUCTS.  And one thing that can get in our way of people liking us is our ego.  A guy I used to work with always told me, “I can close anybody, anywhere, anytime.”  Sure you can, buddy.  I won’t lie, he really is a very good sales person, but his ego is so large that it gets in the way of him actually caring.   Now, if he just cared half as much about the customers he professes to be able to close anywhere or anytime, he would be that much more successful.

When we check our ego at the door and start showing the customer how much we care, the customer will start to bring their guard down.  A reader named Paul commented about the article, We Adapt or We Die  when I said that that price is rarely the number one reason customers buy.  Paul commented about the “Sewell Tax”.  And he is absolutely right.  People like Paul pay more for a better experience.  And I will go out on a limb and say that Paul probably does not get bombarded with the know-it-all service advisor when he takes his Lexus in.  In fact, I bet Paul gets treated exactly how he wants to be treated by somebody who will empathize and make sure Paul knows that the advisor is taking ownership of the problem.


So ego is good when used in moderation.  And I promise every reader here, I definitely have an ego.  Thanks to some great friends and mentors, I have learned to (mostly) keep it in check and listen to my customers.  I truly do care about everybody I come into contact with.  My job is then to make sure they know it and can see and feel it.  Only then when they ask me will I show them what I know.

I will give you one more scenario.  When I sold cars at an Audi dealership, I decided that the Audi S4 was the best car made.  So imagine when a husband and wife with two kids came into the dealership to look at Audis and gave me their list of most important items.  Safety, fuel economy, practicality.  All I had to do was listen to know that they should be looking at an Allroad, A4, or A6.  But . . . my ego got in the way.  I wanted to tell them and show how wonderful the S4 was.  Did the S4 get good gas mileage?  In my day it was a V8, so absolutely not.  Was it practical?  Well it did have 4 doors, but the Recaro seats took up so much room that if your kids were over two feet tall they were not going to be comfortable.  And is it safe?  That was the only thing I got right out of the 3 things that were most important to them.  Again, ego was destroying me.  I kept trying to sell them the car I wanted to buy and was refusing to just listen to the customer.  You can probably figure out for yourself whether or not I got that sale.

None of this is rocket science.  Everything I write about is basic and easy to do.  However, as we all know, it’s still easier to practice the definition of insanity.  Why would you want to change your actions and behaviors when you’ve been doing the same things over and over?  Oh yeah, because the same things we are all doing over and over just aren’t working anymore.  What are your thoughts?  I would love to hear if you’ve had similar or very different experiences.  As always, people buy people, not products.


6 thoughts on “People Don’t Care How Much You Know Until They Know How Much You Care

  1. Chris – good stuff, and I agree 100%. It reminds me of a presentation that I did back in the early days of the Trade-In Marketplace Implementation Team at one of our very first annual meetings. I’ll keep this short, but basically I covered the entire history of auto sales, from the late 1800s to today. It started with a story about how people bought things (autos included) in the 1800s. If somebody had a goat and you needed a goat, you approached them and traded a few of your chickens for it. Very personal transaction, and both people got something they needed. If you didn’t like the guy that had the goat, you’d find another guy that you DID like. We slowly but surely got away from that over the years, we advertised using newspaper, radio, and TV (about as far away from face-to-face as you can get), and people bought from whoever had the lowest price. But with the advent of the internet and social media, DealerRater and Yelp and Facebook, we’re very much now back full circle to person-to-person auto commerce – you buy from somebody you like, and both people have the ability to leave the transaction happy, because they each got something they needed. Price is NOT the deciding factor. Unless your ego gets in the way – then price ends up being the backstop you have to fall back on to make a deal happen, and when that happens, it’s a guarantee that neither party will come away completely satisfied.


  2. I loved your first two paragraphs – I liked the rest too but…I’m not a buyer, I’m a saver so I can’t relate to the selling/buying experience except to say that, YES, we buy from people we like. IF I’m in a position to choose from whom to buy anything, I do not want to give credit/sales/commission to someone who I do not like. It might not be fair but it’s the way it is. Good post.

    Liked by 1 person

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