Do People Really Buy from those they Know, Like, and Trust?

by: Kim Shivler, M.Ed.

One of the most common platitudes thrown around when it comes to selling is: “People buy from those they Know, Like, and Trust.” This is possibly the most misunderstood selling mantra touted by business coaches and floating around networking circles. Successful business development is much deeper than a simple platitude. Let’s break it down.



A person has to know you, know about you, or find you in some way in order to buy from you. This doesn’t mean they have to be your buddy, and depending on what you are selling, they may not need to know you personally. For your business, analyze how well a customer needs to know you to purchase from you.


Here is where the problem usually arises. Entrepreneurs hear “like” and they rush off to make friends with everyone. After all, we like our friends and if they like us, then they will buy.


So what does “like” mean? It is true that people buy from those they like. This doesn’t mean they are best friends, however. It means people like to be with, work with, and buy from those who are likable and are like them.

Be likable. Find similarities with your prospective customer, and your “Like” factor will be solid.


As with “know,” this one is not hard to define. Trust is the belief in the ability, truth, or strength of something or someone.

Trust is also the most critical of these three. Have you ever known someone you really liked as a friend, but you wouldn’t trust them to do work for you?

Most of us have these people in our lives. Maybe you see them miss deadlines. Maybe you think their work isn’t quite up to your specifications.  Maybe you don’t like the way they treat customers.

When you need the type of service they offer, who ya gonna call? Probably not them.

This truth increases the more significant the issue. For example, if you have cancer, are you going to the doctor you “like” the most or are you going to find the best doctor you can find who treats your type of cancer?

If you want to sell your product or service, it’s time to rethink Know, Like, and Trust. Find a way for people to know you or about you. Be likable. Establish yourself as an expert so people will trust you, and you’ll find yourself selling more and selling easier.

In reality, people Do Not buy from those they Know, Like, and Trust!

At least, not in the way many people perceive it.

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Kim Shivler, M.Ed. is a speaker, communications strategist, and instructional design consultant. She helps businesses increase sales, improve customer service, and build effective teams. Learn more about her programs at