This weekend, inspired by my research for my last article (How to Be a Good Car Salesman), I spent a significant amount of time casually interviewing some top performers. I asked them probing questions designed to unearth their sales mindset for success.

These top performers had all already decided that car sales is a good career. They are all in the most productive parts of their careers. They are crushing their quotas and making outsized incomes.

I found one thing above all else. The top sales representatives all had a way to be “Undeniably Likable” with their customers. They each had a unique way about them, a way of talking, of connecting, that can make you feel comfortable. I could immediately understand why their customers liked them.

Whether you sell server boxes or automobiles, referral business is the end game.

The dream of a sustained book of business is attractive to any salesperson – a self-filling, income-generating, free-time-enabling pipeline of customers. Referral customers are the best type of customers. 

All of the top sales representatives understood this. Their sales mindset for success centered around the “customer experience.” In the end, this all boils down to one thing, which is being likable. Undeniably likable (check out the follow up to this article here!)

Undeniably Likable

I want your customers to fall in love with you. I want them to “eat out of your hand.”

How do you do that? It’s about a sales mindset that enables success. 

To give you an idea of what I mean, think about this:

How would you act if your customer was your girlfriend’s grandmother, and that you were meeting her for the first time?

How would you act if your customer was your bosses wife or bosses husband, and you were showing her a car?

sales mindset for success- treat them like grandma!

I’m not talking about price.

I’m talking about the effort you make to make the connection.

Chipotle’s Big Scoop of Chicken

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. is an American chain of fast-casual restaurants in the United States. You probably have one (or seven) in your city. 

I go to Chipotle once a week, on average. I order the same thing, over and over again. I’m not the type of guy that get’s sick of stuff quickly.

I get brown rice, black beans, chicken, onions/peppers, hot salsa, mild salsa, corn, and sour cream. Cheese on top.

Every time, it’s the same order.

So why do I sometimes get a heaping serving of chicken, and sometimes just a timid scoop?

Everything in the equation is routine. Same Chipotle, same order, same employees, and it’s the same time of day.

Everything in the equation is routine, except for how I treat the people behind the counter.

If I come in, mind still at work, and passively tell them my order, I get a small scoop.

If, instead, I come in with a smile on my face, a kind greeting and meet the server’s eyes? Big scoop.

So there you have it. My attitude can drastically, perhaps unconsciously, affect my scoop of chicken.

Think of your customer buying today as a big scoop of chicken. Think of your customer saying yes to a fair deal where you still make some money as a big scoop of chicken.

Sure I could pay extra for extra chicken (just like I can “pay” the customer with a discount to buy), but it would be much easier if I could win them with my personality.

So How Can You Be “Undeniably Likable”

You have to put in the effort to foster this sales mindset for success.

I heard a quote the other day, “Happiness is the prize for Hard Work.”

I like that quote a lot. I think that many people are still trying to do the bare minimum at work. They don’t start their job with that intention, but after months of hard work and quality customer service, they burn out. They don’t have the motivation or the discipline to stay with it. It’s no wonder that so many new salespeople start with a few great months, but then slowly fade into mediocrity.

It’s challenging to stay on top of your game, but it’s no magic trick. The only thing between you and winning over a customer is effort.

Big Bosses “Pep” Talk

A few days ago, my boss came to my business partner and me with an ultimatum.

“Sell as many cars as we did last year’s December or face a few hundred dollar monthly pay cut.”

This was going to be a challenge, as the store itself was down 25% year over year, mostly attributed to the new same-brand dealer that opened in the neighborhood.

Although I don’t necessarily agree with the tactic, money talks, so my business partner and I huddled on what to do. When we discussed our options for pulling off his ask, we came to a simple conclusion: we had already pushed every lever we control.

Our BDC is converting web leads well, our inventory is substantial, and we were offering market setting low-prices. The only lever we had left was going to be how we treated the customers. We hoped that with a renewed focus on being “Undeniably Likable,” we could convert that extra few percents of traffic to meet our bosses expectation.

In the end, only so much is within our circle of control. We don’t control the customer’s desires nor the market. What we can control is our effort. 

Practically Speaking, How Can I Be “Undeniably Likable”

Practically speaking? You need to take that effort we just talked about, and focus it on finding a connection with a customer. That is the key to this sales mindset for success.

how to be a good car salesman: find your superpower!

building a relationship is your superpower

This begins with the “seed” of the relationship. Some topic or theme that you two have in common that lowers the guard of everyone involved. Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of the things that have become the “seeds” of my long-term car sales relationships:

Car Sales Referrals: The Ultimate Guide

Take that effort and ask some questions. Ask them directly and ask them indirectly. Ask them:

  1. How long have you been in this area?
  2. Did you live nearby?
  3. How far do you drive to work?
  4. Where do you work?
  5. What do you do there?
  6. How did you get into that?
  7. Why?
  8. What did you do before?
  9. Did you always want to do that job?
  10. What do you do when you’re not working?
  11. What shows are you watching on Netflix?
  12. How many kids do you have?
  13. What are their hobbies?
  14. Where do they go to school?
  15. What does your spouse do?
  16. How did he/she get into that?
  17. Did you read that new article “Sales Mindset for Success: Undeniably Likable”?


You keep asking questions, in a friendly “I really would love to get to know you” way, until you find something that connects you.

Once you find that “something,” use that to bring you closer to them, make jokes about it. Get into the details. Have it be “your thing.”

New Contact Style

If I were doing my old style of contacts, I would have added this contact in my phone today:

Todd Smith

Instead, I’ve added (name changed of course):

Todd Smith (funny Irish tall guy, likes boats)
APPLE – antenna scientist
Notes: wife likes S5 Sportback. 2 kids both ski

Your brain needs a little hint to remind itself of that social connection.

What do you call a car salesperson that picks up the first ring, three days after you first meet him, and immediately knows who you are? What do you call a car salesperson that remembers things about you and cares about you? You call that salesman, “undeniably likable.”


More Ideas for this Sales Mindset

Other things that can make you stand out as incredibly likable involve things like common courtesy, patience, and smiling. Active listening wherein you repeat back snippets of what they say to you is a great practice.

You already exhibit these behaviors, naturally, when you feel like you have something to lose.

I also recommend you do a check-in with your ego– are you overconfident? Is that pushing away customers?

Here’s the Secret to the Sales Mindset for Success

You always have something to lose. 

Sometimes it’s a scoop of chicken; sometimes it’s a thousand dollars in your car deal.

I don’t think that you can always be perfect. I think everyone, including Oprah and Chris Pratt, have off days. 

That’s OK. Expected.

What’s not OK is forgetting that your ability to be “undeniably likable” might be the one thing that paves the way for your life’s success!