There are a lot of reasons why despite a lot of competition, a few companies cut through the noise and emerge as the top players. Why do you think Google is voted as the best company to work for, for so many years in a row? The reason isn’t just bean bags or foosball tables. It is because of one core value they practise. One value that can drastically change any job you are doing. Empathy. Product designing, UI/UX, HR, marketing, sales, everything needs empathy.
When I was interviewing salespeople for ‘People in Sales’, one skill most of them emphasised was empathy. Empathy isn’t just saying “I understand what you’re going through” and then continuing to sell them the product anyway. No. It has more to do with detecting all the unstated needs. Something which isn’t explicitly stated by the prospect. Sales is more than just closing deals by brute force.
If a customer buys something from you, it’s because they believe it makes their lives a bit easier or makes them better. Sales is helping a human out. In that process of selling, you are facilitating a change in their life. And the initial reaction to change usually is anxiety, nervousness and scepticism. It takes a really good sales rep to ease the change and assure the client. Empathy is a natural trait, yes. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn it. The best sales lessons are usually outside the job.
When we interviewed John Bruder from Netbrain Technologies inc. for our interview series – People in Sales, one thing that really struck a chord was how level-headed he remained throughout the call even when recalling some unpleasant incidents. He dons several hats – A salesman, a dad, an uncle, a husband, a son, and a co-guardian to his aunt. He is also a foster parent with kids coming and going out of his care. Instead of getting overwhelmed by all these responsibilities, what he did was cross-learning. He applied the empathy he learnt from donning all those hats and patience he learnt from dealing with his kids, into his sales job. Here’s what he said about being empathetic:
“I feel the empathy I learned from being who I am in my personal life has shaped me into an even better salesperson. Empathy can really change the way you sell. The experiences of my personal life have helped me stay centred and be patiently persistent in deals where there is seemingly no closure in sight. It also helps me to put the relationship first and focus cultivating that to our mutual satisfaction and benefit.”
So, how do you innately develop this habit? Observe. Try to put yourself in their position. Every time they react a different way or criticise instead of going on auto-defense, try and analyse why they are acting a certain way. If none of these work for you, then the simple thing to do is “fake it till you make it”. Ask a lot of questions to try and understand what they’re feeling. Listen more.
All the good salespeople out there are using this tool. Are you?