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After college, I couldn’t find a “real” job. So I got a position in sales for a large temporary help firm.

After a few weeks of pounding the pavement, it didn’t take me long to discover the importance of being likeable. In fact, if a prospect I was meeting said something like, “We deal with John Smith at XYZ Firm and we really like that guy,” I knew I was doomed.

There was no chance I would land that account anytime soon.

My competitor had a huge, almost unassailable, advantage over me. The client liked him. It didn’t matter how much better my services were. The client liked the guy.

Being likeable has a lot more to do with how clients choose and stay with certain consultants, copywriters, designers and other service providers than we marketing folk care to admit to.

Think about it. There are basically three reasons why – in most cases – a prospect will choose to try your services.

1. They see you as an expert at what you do.

2. You provide a service that meets their needs.

3. They like you.

As professional service providers, we often focus on the first two and hope for the best when it comes to number three.

But how often have you dealt with someone because you know and like them, even though there were other, more qualified, professionals available on the market?

Probably many times.

So you cannot underestimate the importance of being likeable. Or, to put it another way: the importance of effectively communicating the reasons why clients enjoy working with you.

How do you do that?

One of the simplest ways is to put yourself in the shoes of your prospects and clients and take an honest look at how they experience you and your services.

When they visit your website, for example, what impression are they likely to form? When they read your home page and other pages, will they see you as a friendly, approachable professional who is an expert at what you do?

Or will they get a different impression?

Also think about how you deal with clients and prospects on the phone and in person. Is there anything about what you say and how you say it that might stop people from thinking, “I’d like to work with this person”?

Even your voice mail message can leave an impression you don’t want. A friend recently commented that my message makes me sound like an unapproachable prima donna. When I listened to it, I agreed. So I changed it.

If you’re feeling brave, another strategy is to ask your clients what they like – and don’t like – about working with you. Ask them to be brutally honest. Some will. And those that do will be doing you a big favor.

I recently went through this exercise myself. I discovered, to my surprise, that people appreciate how practical my advice tends to be. In fact, “practical” is the word I heard most often. Yet, that word appears only a couple of times on my website. (I’m definitely going to change that!)

Go through that exercise yourself.

Or at least take some time this week to review your website and sales conversations and look for ways to boost your “likeability factor”. The more you do, the more clients you’ll attract. And keep.