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Use sales empathy to see things from the perspective of your prospect or customer. Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

One of the most underrated skills a salesperson can have

One of the most underrated skills a salesperson can have is empathy — the ability to see things from the perspective of the buyer or customer. Salespeople are notorious for me, me selling. Here’s what I want to do…Let me do this…If I get to do this…We’re not done talking about me yet. All of them have the self-awareness to not do this, but it needs to be pointed out like the bad habit it is.

Customers don’t care what you want.

It’s best to point this out in the form of the following tough love: prospects and customers don’t care about what you want. They care about what they want. What salespeople want is of zero interest to customers. They do not care. Stop pretending that they do.

Imagine a typical day in the life of your prospect

Instead, think about their perspective. Think about a typical day in the life of your prospect. What are their fears? What are they dreaming about? What are they concerned about? What is a Big Win for them? What problems do they have today that you might help them solve? What gaps in service or in the marketplace they’re in can you help fill or solve?

Forget about yourself for a moment.

When you take the empathic path, you forget about yourself for awhile and you concentrate on someone else. You walk some miles in their shoes. You see things through their eyes. You begin to feel things as they feel them. You gain far deeper perspective of your marketplace in general and your customer in particular. You gain an unfair advantage over the competition. It’s like you’re a sales anthropologist watching and observing your customers and your customers’ customers’ behaviors: Who are these people? What do they want? What are they afraid of? What upsets them? What do they eat and drink? What do they like to do for fun? How do they relax? How do they celebrate? What do they celebrate? What was their last Big Win like? What did that mean to them? How did it make them feel? How do they go about repeating that?

Be inquisitive. Ask. Ask. Ask. And stick around for the answer.

By acting as the sales anthropologist and observing and asking questions of your customers and prospects, you gain knowledge about what they actually care about — not what you think they should care about. There’s often a difference. You can’t really know for sure until you ask and then actively listen to their answers. When you get their answers, be sure to write them down.

A fabulous way to gain customer perspective is to go work with their team for a day or even a half-day. Show up at 7:00 AM with coffee and breakfast, and tell them you’re ready to get to work with them. See what a typical day is like for your customer. Ride around with them. Listen to the conversations they have with their customers. What are the daily challenges? Where are the opportunities? What are the consistent gaps they experience?

By spending a day with your customer, you gain insight into their daily professional (or not so professional) experiences. Further, you get to see where they struggle, and how you and your company can help.

Here is a list of things you’ll get as a salesperson when you have empathy for your customer or prospect:

-They’ll feel like you get them and their problems

-They’ll think you’re really smart

-They will develop a deeper, more meaningful relationship with you and your company

-They will be grateful that someone took the time to understand them and the challenges they experience on a daily basis

-They will have greater appreciation for the solutions you develop for them

-They won’t look at you as just another salesperson. They’ll look at you as a valued resource, someone to call on when they have a need.

This list is not all-inclusive. It lists only some of the things customers get and you will receive by employing empathy into your sales repertoire.

Why would you take good notes?

Further, if you’re savvy, you’ll take good notes in what you learn as the sales anthropologist. From these notes, you can develop blog posts, social media posts, even videos about what you’ve learned and how that will help future prospects and customers.

Why would you do this? You would do this because this is how you let future prospects and customers know you speak their language. You get them, too. You’ve been with those like them before, and you’ve solved problems they experience right now.

Ideally, your notes speak to what’s going inside your prospect’s mind. These make fabulous headlines.

Great headlines speak to the conversation currently going on inside of the prospect’s head. What are they thinking about right now? This problem on the job they’ve got. The owner’s pissed. They’re behind schedule. And they’re in a serious bind.

Maybe you’ve seen this one before? Maybe you and your team can develop a solution that would be right for them. Maybe they can take a piece of your marketing, get it, understand it, and see how it can potentially be applied to them.

Think about a blog post that has the customer’s problem as the headline. Do you think that might resonate with them? Do you think if someone has that precise problem right now, they might click on it? How about a video title on YouTube that speaks to the prospect’s problem they’re currently experiencing? And then the video addresses how best to solve it.

If your marketing and salesmanship speak to these customer problems and potential solutions, they will love you for it. This makes you fly high above everyone else. The competition isn’t even on the radar because their marketing is too busy speaking about themselves and how great they are.

Written by

I’m a sales, marketing and tech Pro who creates content designed to help people solve problems and shift perspectives.

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