If you have ever watched American Idol, you probably know the term "likability factor"--often used by the judges in their critique of a contestant. You might have heard them say things like, "Well the singing wasn't the best, but people will vote for you because you're so likable."

Man. You'd think that in a singing competition, a contestant's only important attribute should be, well, being a good singer. But if you watched even one season of the show, you'd know that this is hardly ever the case. There were a lot of great contestants the year Carrie Underwood won, but she kept coming up in the top because she's so darn likable!

Winning over investors, nailing a job interview, or nabbing new clients is no different. It is not enough to have a stellar product or service. You have to have the likability factor to stand out in the sea of a million other businesses.

What makes a person likable? Well, that's subjective. The words "likable" and "relatable" can actually be used interchangeably. In order to move your audience to action, you must be able to relate to them. game on Nation is one of the country's most respected communication firms, teaching top sales teams how to nail professional pitches. They have worked with industry A-listers, such as NASCAR, Honda, Muscle Milk, TD Waterhouse, and a plethora of major college and professional sports teams. Their ideas are based on authentic communication and the ability to resonate with the audience. Here are their top five tips for closing the deal by relating.

Find the True Value

Your potential client will care much more about your message if you can identify and communicate the value of your product, especially when you relate that value to the bigger scope of their lives. We're all driven by the desire to make things better, easier, safer, and happier. Share how you and your product will make this a reality. For example, a payroll service is giving business owners more time and improved peace of mind. A lawn care service specializes in creating a relaxing and peaceful environment for the entire community.

Respect Your Audience

Pick one positive word (an objective) that you are trying to make your client feel, and stick with it. The most powerful objectives are also very simple, e.g., comfortable, relaxed, informed, secure, or excited. Make sure that this objective also balances out your natural energy so you don't put sugar on sugar. Placing your focus on the how the client feels will prevent you from getting stuck in your own head, getting anxious, or trying too hard. Your goal is to light your clients up with a positive objective from the moment you begin building that relationship.

Communicate with Authenticity

Know your number--that is, the natural energy you bring into the conversation on a scale of 1-10. If you tend to speak loudly, take up space in the room, or express strong opinions, you might operate toward the "8" end of the scale. If you're a patient listener and observer, more chill/relaxed, or prefer to let others speak first, you might find yourself on the "3" side. Whichever number you normally identify, recognize that you have the ability to adjust your number to complement the client's energy while still being yourself and playing within your game.

Keep Calm and Carry on

The "Repeat-React-Respond: Shoot Like A Pro" exercise is a helpful tool to assess where the conversation is heading when the client asks you a question. First, receive the ball (listen carefully and REPEAT the question silently to yourself to make sure you've listened to the entire question). Second, get your feet and body set to shoot (REACT to the question authentically with an appropriate nonverbal gesture, such as a smile if the question is positive, or a thoughtful nod if the question is serious). Third, shoot with a strong follow-through (RESPOND with a clear answer plus one or two specific examples.).

Slowing down just a fraction with this exercise will help you avoid interrupting the client or answering their question before taking a moment to fully understand the intent. You'll also avoid rambling and overwhelming them with details by instead sharing examples that are short, sweet, and to the point.

Rely on Relationships

Identify your "Coins," or positive, common topics of conversation like family, pets, hobbies, food, and travel. Try to collect these Coins from your client. When you uncover common interests, you will both naturally show enthusiasm and build bonds and trust that are bigger than your professional relationship.

Finally, explore, compare, and celebrate the Coins you both have in common. Don't be mistaken--you still have to have a great product. Carrie Underwood may have "gotten in the door" with American Idol by being the relatable, all-American girl, but she's proved time and again that she is a great singer--which is why she's won so many Grammys. When your product is solid and your price is competitive, you can rely on your likability to help you close the deal. This is the win/win result of collaborative sales practice!

Published on: Sep 2, 2014