Updated: Jul 6, 2022
There's been a lot of discussion about empathy in sales recently, possibly because pandemic driven work behaviors have made building personal relationships more difficult, or because customers have become overwhelmed with clueless targeting via e-mail and social media. Empathy is a complex area, but there are some things that every sales person can do right now to start building it.
Your prospects attention is a privilege, and you need to earn it. You don't do that by yelling out the same message incessantly to everyone you see, you do it by listening for what matters to them. I don't mean 'active listening' type of stuff, where you repeat what the prospect has said, or starting every answer with 'I can understand how that might makes you feel', that's actually really irritating. What I mean is approaching every interaction with the purpose of building your understanding of what they need and want to make happen.
Think PROCESS. Not your process, theirs. Everyone works in some kind of process, and a really basic way to understand what matters to your prospect is to learn about the process they work in. Who is their customer, what are they looking for, and most importantly, how do they measure their success? Most B2B sales people are focussed on specific roles or functions, so they already have a baseline of knowledge about the typical challenges their prospects face, but every organization is different, and asking questions about what's unique about their process is a great way to uncover what they prioritize.
Work the JOURNEY. Your prospects journey is ideally going to be a subset of your organizations overall customer journey. In most large organizations, this has been mapped out from touchpoint to touchpoint, and every interaction has been defined. This is a really compelling piece of information to share with your customer. Presented well, it demonstrates what they can expect from a relationship with your company, how that relationship might grow and most importantly, the benefits that they will experience along the way. It shows that, as an organization, you're focussed on building relationship value, and, as a sales person, it helps you deepen your understanding of what matters to them.
Be of service. Make sure that at every touchpoint, you deliver value. It doesn't have to be massive, you can start small, but the very act of thinking about what value you're going to bring in every engagement will shift your mindset towards your prospect. The 'value' can be a book you think they might enjoy, an invitation to a webinar, a piece of research or an article from a magazine, but being able to show that you have an understanding of what they might find useful and enjoyable is big step to building trust.
There is a process to building empathy, and this is just a really brief introduction. Like every successful process, it has specific steps, measurable milestones, achievable goals and realistic timelines. When you do it well, more of your prospects will start to 'swipe right', and that always makes sales a lot more fun! If you'd like to learn more, don't hesitate to get in touch. Complete the contact form or book an introductory meeting above.