Here is a rare Superpower that if you possess and use regularly, you are a Superhero.
Here’s a rare superpower that if you possess and use regularly, you are a superhero.
This superpower is Empathy.
Empathy does not come naturally to us. If it did, it would not be a superpower. It turns out that Empathy is surprisingly rare. This is ironic because it is so powerful to use in business and in life to see things from others’ perspectives. To walk in others’ shoes. To see through others’ eyes. In fact, to feel others’ feelings in the moment. To get so good that you know what they’re about to say before they say it. To know what they are about to feel before they feel it. To grasp the subtext behind their words even if their words are not clear. To get people.
Former President, Bill Clinton, was a master at Empathy. He made it seem as if he felt the same things as what the other person in the room went through simultaneously. Bill Clinton understands that there is great power in making people feel acknowledged, appreciated and understood. That peoples’ feelings matter. That where they’ve been and that who they are is a big deal to him. That he’s been through a lot himself. That he gets those hard feelings you’re currently experiencing because he’s had them himself. Clinton was even explicit about this: “I Feel your pain.” How do people feel when they hear someone else, especially a POTUS, say this? Acknowledged. Appreciated. Understood.
What if you could make your customer feel like this? What if you could make your customer feel acknowledged, appreciated and understood? You’d be unstoppable.
Scoff at these feelings at your own peril. Everyone wants this, even the most grizzled sales veteran among us. (Especially the most grizzled sales veteran among us.) In a world where no one is paying much attention to anyone, let alone validating anyone else’s feelings, Empathy is underrated.
Take a typical sales scenario. Both companies have similar products. Both companies are very similar in go to market and in pricing structures. Both companies salespeople are near interchangeable, except that one company’s sales pro took the time to really listen to the prospect, to really make them feel like she genuinely cared about them and their needs. That she took the time to make sure the other team felt appreciated, acknowledged and understood.
Who’s going to get the deal?
It is the same for you, too. You’re no different. Take anything you’re in the market for: house, car, clothes, whatever. You’re going to buy from a person (or store, if their brand is this good) who makes you feel understood, like they get you. Nordstrom gets me. Tesla gets me. Apple definitely gets me. My real estate guy totally gets me. Grant Cardone gets me. Jeffrey Gitomer gets me. Brendan Burchard gets me. Mean, old Dan Kennedy gets me.
And what happens when stores / brands don’t get you? They don’t get your money. At least, not much of it. You walk. This is why the customer journey is so important to brands because it maps out the steps the prospect takes along the way to purchase. And we map out the customer’s steps through Empathy.
I’ve always said that one of the best ways to get to know your customer is to become him / her yourself. Actually be in the market you sell to. IF you sell copywriting services, be in the market for buying copywriting services. If you sell SAAS, be in the market for SAAS. If you sell Real Estate, always be looking at deals. If you sell tech, always be examining and learning about tech. If you sell to contractors, actually go to work for a contractor. Or, at least, go on several ride-alongs with them so you can see first hand just how hard these guys work. And how difficult it is for them to find good, quality labor.
What do we get by doing all this? What’s the point of it all?
We build Empathy with our customer. We’ve left the building to go and see for ourselves. There is little more powerful thing we can do than this. To actually see with our own eyes what our customer experiences on a day-to-day basis. To feel what our customer feels. To sense the same frustrations. To feel the same wins. To take the same losses. To earn the multi sensory experiences as our customer is to partner up with them in a new, extraordinary way. To Empathize. To experience together. To become powerful. To finally understand them. To make them feel understood, like somebody finally gets them. To be a Superhero in the marketplace. This is The Opportunity available to all of us, together, sales & marketing pros. Should you wish to pursue it with courage.
Few will take me up on this offer even though it is good for them and their bank accounts.
Most business pros are ‘too busy’ dealing in the minutia, too adrift in a sea of distraction to take the time out to experience life with the customer herself. To simply go and spend time in the field with her: go where she goes; eat where she eats; shop where she shops; use tech that she uses; meet the people she meets; grab coffee where she grabs coffee. You know, performing the essential, anthropological field research necessary to Empathize with her, to understand her day-to-day, to get her. To take a deep breath and say to her, “So, THIS is what it is like for you…” And to understand. To Understand her.
It is strange that few take me up on the Opportunity because it is so rich, so powerful, so ripe full of potential. She WANTS you to do this with her. For her. Because she wants to finally feel understood by somebody. She wants somebody to get her because as we stated earlier, nobody is listening to anyone any more. No today. Not tomorrow. Not next week. So, the person who takes the time out to actually listen, to ask questions, to nod, to ask follow up questions, to write things down and take good notes, to really put in the effort…WOW. That is a wow set of actions that are open to any one to take and implement. Even something as basic as taking the lunch order at the restaurant.
In many ways, this “new” is a return to the old. We’ve come full circle. What I call the modern day Superpower of Empathy is really just communication fundamentals 101 with cool packaging. Like a hapless basketball team that cannot take care of the basketball, we’ve simply forgotten the fundamentals. We’ve forgotten to write stuff down. We’ve forgotten to follow up. We’ve forgotten to listen. We’ve forgotten to come from others’ perspectives. We’ve forgotten to seek first to understand. We’ve forgotten to close open loops. We’ve even forgotten to take people to lunch and dinner. (Don’t people eat any more?!) Almost, strangely, we’ve forgotten our values. Well, it is time to reclaim them! Let’s go!
What if you write stuff down?
What if you take things from others’ perspectives?
What if you ask more and say less?
What if you have answers to objections like price before they inevitably come up?
What if you spent the day with your customer, gaining a keen understanding of her and what her day-to-day life is like? Doing what she does? Seeing who she sees? Eating what she eats?
What if you left the building, to go and see for yourself?