Tom Courtney

In his first of two articles, Tom Courtney, Founder and Managing Director of Courtney Associates (Global) talks about ‘selling’ and the fact that whilst we obviously need a good product or service to sell, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that people buy from people!

People buy from people

Your product’s great, the market needs it and your company’s sales strategy is technically sound… but is this enough to gain a competitive advantage when you are in front of a prospective client?

One thing I have learned over the last 30 years as a ‘seller’ or indeed ‘buyer’ is that people buy from people. Now don’t misunderstand me, if you don’t have a good product or service to sell then all of my following thoughts are worthless, however, I genuinely believe that if a buyer ‘likes me’ and my product or service, I may actually have the advantage over a competitor who the buyer doesn’t ‘like’ but who may have a better product or service than me.

When the concept that people buy from people and that it helps if the buyer likes you was shared with me 30 years ago I was ecstatic because I was an extremely likeable fellow – outgoing, friendly, charismatic, funny, a story for every occasion  – what was there not to like?

Imagine my horror then in September 1997 when I received some feedback that my company failed in a bid for some work because the client didn’t quite take to Mr Courtney………… ”he was a bit flippant, arrogant and full of himself.”

Flippant, arrogant and full of himself!! Surely they meant quickly witted, articulate and self-assured? Some People!

After a few weeks in denial, I gave this matter a little more thought and realised that perhaps there was more to this ‘getting people to like you’ thing than first meets the eye.

It was at this point that I decided that a likeable person was in the eye of the beholder and dependant on the personality of the person you were trying to be liked by.

I felt therefore that a more objective, behavioural approach to this important area of sales should be taken.

I questioned myself that perhaps the term ‘people buy from people’ should be amended ever so slightly to ‘people buy from people who behave in line with how they like to behave’.

In other words, if we are trying to connect, influence and ultimately sell to people, perhaps we should understand what makes them tick and amend, adapt & align our behaviours to the person we are trying to connect with.

So in taking this forward, I decided to try to understand what sort of people there are out there and I was able to identify that there are probably four main distinct types of people.

Forceful, Direct, Results Orientated People – I’m going to call them (D) People
Fun, Talkative, Outgoing People – I’m going to call them (I) People
Steady, Patient, Relaxed People – I’m going to call them (S) People
Precise, Analytical, Accurate, Detailed Oriented People – I’m going to call them (C) People

Each set of people think, act and behave in a particular way, are motivated by different things and communicate and like to be communicated to in a variety of ways.

Our challenge when selling to others is to recognise what type of person we are dealing with and to adapt our behaviour in such a way as to build rapport, connect and influence them to buy from us. In essence, we are now getting closer to getting them to like us.

We do this by using a Behavioural Profiling Tool known as DiSC. In my next article, we find out how we can recognise the different characters; understand what switches them on and off and how we can practically adapt our behaviours to theirs, by understanding DiSC in more depth.

For further information on any of the issues raised in this article head over to Courtney Associates Website on

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