I had a client ask me about the importance of empathy last week, and before reeling off the standard answer, I gave it a little more thought and so would be keen to hear your views.

It doesn’t matter where you go, you will find that one of the main qualities a salesperson must have is the ability to enter a prospect or customer’s world. In other words – to walk a mile in their shoes or to sit on their side of the desk – to have empathy.

According to Wikipedia, “Empathy has many different definitions that encompass a broad range of emotional states, such as caring for other people and having a desire to help them; experiencing emotions that match another person’s emotions; discerning what another person is thinking or feeling; and making less distinct the differences between the self and the other.”

And so it is clearly important that a salesperson has the emotional intelligence to practice that, wouldn’t you agree?

I mean, addressing this stuff must be more important than learning how to leave a voicemail or overcoming a price objection, right?
So, that being said, if we consider at one end of the spectrum sits EMPATHY then what sits at the other end of the spectrum would be APATHY. And we all know if an empath is all about meeting others needs (sometimes to the point of martyrdom), then an apath* must be someone who has a care factor of zero, focused purely on self.

EMPATHY 1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…9…10 APATHY

Where do you sit on that spectrum? And what do you believe the perfect metric should be?

One would think midway…

But I don’t believe that serves anyone. I believe that is No Man’s Land. Fence sitting. Beige. And as a result it also shows a lack of flexibility when it comes to entering your different prospect or customers worlds.

Let me give you an example:

If you are someone who is too empathetic and walks in someone else’s shoes, and your prospect or customer says they will ‘think it over’ or they will need to ‘do some more research’, you will be someone who is more inclined to say ‘OK – that’s fine’ – you will default to your own natural position on this scale. When that happens you are now a step further away from the sale happening successfully and it has NOTHING to do with your inability to ask for the business, leave a voicemail or overcome a pricing objection.

If you are someone who is too apathetic and you are not able to attach any emotion to a relationship and your customer is looking for ‘trust and connection’ then missing out on that opportunity has NOTHING to do with your capabilities either.

The secret

It doesn’t matter how you slice or dice it, the key is YOU! Learning to read the person in front of you, understanding how to ask the questions that elicit their BUYING style and being OK with shifting your behaviour based on sensory acuity and feedback will provide a win/win/win scenario and that’s what selling’s all about. And if you don’t get the opportunity to do any of that – detach!

Happy to hear your thoughts on my blog and remember, success in sales is based on PEOPLE not PROCESSES so give yourself and your team that support instead.

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Bernadette McClelland is an expert in B2B sales conversations that drive value and deliver multi-million dollar results. Contact her office now on 1300 935 226 or [email protected]

*** *Apath – “anybody who shows any form of apathy” according to Yours Truly đŸ™‚ ***

Bernadette McClelland Call Me NOW