What I Learned About Sales from My Sister, the Model

The Importance of Likability

Trent Hawthorne
3 min readOct 14, 2020

In high school I worked in the pharmacy at Eckerd’s. I made minimum wage filling prescriptions and taking inventory of controlled substances. My older sister Brooke took a very different route — she modeled. She started at 15, and she made more in an hour shooting print ads for Rooms To Go and Belk than I made in a week. This earnings gulf irritated me at the time, but the truth is watching Brooke blaze her own trail in business at such a young age made a big impact on me. I learned the importance of marketing (her “book”), the value of distribution (her agency), and the need to take risks to get outsized rewards (she spent a summer in Japan living by herself at 17).

But the most impactful lesson she taught me came in 2006, when I visited her on set for the first time. She was doing a shoot for one of her top clients, a wedding dress company called Mon Cheri.

I had no idea what to expect. I had never been to one of her shoots. And what I saw there blew me away.

I saw her own a room full of people. The photographers, makeup artists, the clients — everyone. They were laughing, joking — the place had the energy of a cocktail party — and it was clear to me how much everyone there loved Brooke.

Is it any wonder why Mon Cheri kept hiring her?

Here is the important truth I witnessed that day: All else being equal, people buy from who they like.

Brooke is 40 now, and she still models. Yes, she’s beautiful, but that’s not why she’s been successful. There are lots of beautiful people. There aren’t many people who are beautiful, fun, engaging, prompt, and professional. She loves what she does, which helps, but she brings enthusiasm to jobs even on her worst days. Modeling isn’t just about working the camera. It’s about working the room, and working the client. It is sales.

At the end of the day, we are — all of us — in sales. Selling software, selling homes, selling cell phone insurance. Selling ourselves.

As salespeople, it pays to remember: All else being equal, people buy from who they like.

You’re smart, but there are a lot of smart people. There aren’t that many people who are smart, fun, engaging, prompt, and professional. Your product or service is good, but chances are competitors offer something comparable.

What competitors don’t have — what they can NEVER have — is you.

You shouldn’t be fake, but it will never hurt you to be fun, caring, and kind. To be likable.

All business, just like all sales, is really about people. People will remember how you make them feel. It matters.

Take a lesson from Brooke, and be you, and work the room.

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.



Trent Hawthorne

Builder of companies, high-performing business teams, & technology products. People Accelerator.