Empathy. The ability to gain a greater understanding of another's worldview. Empathy is different from pity or feeling sorry for someone. Empathy is more profound in its emotional impact. Leading with empathy in sales creates a foundation for trust and understanding.These are the pillars of any successful sale.
Have you ever went to a meeting thinking you knew what the client needs? If you heard the same answers again and again, it is tempting to assume you know what the client needs. Resist the temptation and clarify what you think you understand. Paraphrase the information for a deeper understanding of the client's needs. This exercise in active listening will provide greater insight into the client's world. Salespeople that slow down and ask questions instead of assuming, sometimes discover they were wrong in their initial assessment of the customers need. Practice the art of confirmation of information to provide greater clarity.
Getting out of your "here" and into their "there."
It can be challenging to get out of your head sometimes. Self-talk can be counterproductive. We may think things like he does not like me. She hasn't smiled once; she must not want what I am offering. She is not even listening. If we get out of our heads and into the customers, we may find they have just left a negative self-evaluation, fired an employee, or lost an important client. None of these things has anything to do with the situation at present. When we get out of our "here" and into their "there" we gain the ability to explore what else might be happening at the moment. We free our minds to focus and pick up on non-verbal cues to understand the customers "there."
Uncomfortable, awkward silence. How you ever sat in a meeting and were met with silence? How about silence and a blank stare? This rattles most people in sales. Practicing the discipline of measured silence often reaps the reward of useful information. People process information in different ways. Some people take more time to digest information and reflect on their thoughts. These same individuals often do not show much facial expression. They are typically rational thinkers and do not think, act or respond quickly. The problem occurs when we don't know someone well enough to determine their personality. Try measured silence in your next conversation. This communication skill often provides a greater understanding of the customer's needs. Measured silence can uncover hidden objections and allow the customer to ask deeper questions and assist in the sales process.
Slow it Down
A career in sales can be brutal when you have to meet a sales quota. Delivering on monthly sales totals when you are behind is unnerving. This type of pressure makes people take shortcuts in the sales process to close the deal. The reality is this type of behavior loses more sales than it gains, and promotes commodity selling when the problem was never the price. Slow down and make your mission to find out everything you can about your customer's world rather than focus on creating a transaction. If you practice this mindset, the customer will often lead the conversation resulting in greater success.
Side note- I do not believe in sales quotas because they interfere with productive selling.
Ask for your customer's opinion. Asking for feedback throughout the sales process will ensure you are on the right track. Listening, confirming information, and working together with the customer to design the solution is partner selling. The customer is an active part of the sales process. When sellers and buyers partner, this is sales at it's best.
Practicing empathy includes gaining perspective, seeking greater understanding, customer confirmation, measured silence, and slowing down the process to provide the best solution.
"Seek to understand, rather than to be understood, and you will be one of the great ones in sales."