Have you ever been in a face-to-face meeting with a prospect, only for them to interrupt you abruptly and go on a tangent about something that is happening in their life or with their family? It can be an awkward moment, during which you may begin to sweat slightly or feel your pulse quicken.
We get it. Most of us have been there one time or another. And of course, the scenario can crop up in countless forms.
What do you do in that moment?
If you are in sales (regardless of the industry) the truth is there’s really no end to the possibilities of what you might encounter during a day on the job.
But, how do you respond to these situations? How do you react? Do you dodge the conversation and circle back to business?
Unless you work solely with Artificial Intelligence, chances are your sales performance will inevitably be directly affected by your answers to those questions.
But don’t worry. We’re here to help.
There is one question that can change everything when it comes to your sales trajectory:
Do you C A R E about your client?
Other experts are acclaiming empathy as the cornerstone in sales success, but we argue that empathy begins with that little four-letter word which you may or may not have just been “born with.”
Is it true that some people just “care” while others do not? We’ve looked into the research. You should be thinking about these three key terms if you want to succeed in any sales role:
As Sarita Lopes says inHow do I learn to care about other people?, “Affections are the currency of trading care.” But, how do you demonstrate affection in a meeting with a client? Here are a few things you might consider:
Are you in touch with yourself?
Empathy is defined as “the ability to share another person’s feelings.” Oftentimes, it’s impossible for us to recognize or engage with another person’s feelings if we aren’t even in touch with our own.
If you rarely consider your own feelings, emotions, and reactions, it may be next to impossible for you to do so with a prospective client.
“Creating a healthy relationship with yourself is not about thinking you’re perfect and boosting your confidence 24/7. It’s more on being open to your flaws, owning up to your mistakes and eliminating your inhibitions. If you can’t even admit to yourself your own emotions and thoughts, then there’s a good chance that you can’t fully show who you are to others. Being open to yourself is a lot more important that being open to others,” says Nicolette Morrison in 7 Positive Ways to Be More in Touch with Yourself.
Of course, there are numerous strategies for bolstering self-awareness and comfort level with your own emotions. Morrison highlights several, from choosing a career you love to becoming more self-forgiving.
A little food for thought? Spend more time getting to know your archetypal “self” if you’d like to see those sales goals soar.
Do you notice how others feel?
This part of the process certainly comes easier for some than others. Our advice? If you are struggling to notice other’s feelings, we recommend asking a lot of questions.
Get to know your client and try to genuinely understand their emotional state.
What happened that caused them to reach out? What are their pain points? What could be going on in their professional or personal life that might be altering their current state? Do they seem confused or frustrated? Do they appear to be open to finding a solution, or are they guarded and dismissive?
You can answer many of these questions simply by observing a person’s nonverbal cues and considering the way they respond—both with their words and their body language.
Of course, to care you need to know how to feel not just empathy, but it’s twin emotion―compassion. Compassion is the ability to share sympathy, pity, and concern for the suffering of others.
Compassion involves more than just empathy. While empathy involves feeling what others are feeling, compassion requires action.
It means allowing yourself to be compelled to help someone find relief for a problem or dilemma.
For a long time experts have debated whether compassion can be taught or if it is simply inherited. In a study published in Psychological Science, it was found that compassion can be taught (what a relief!) and that engaging in compassion lessons and meditations can alter brain chemistry, resulting in improved behavior toward others.
The good news?
“Cultivating compassion does not require years of study and can be elicited quite rapidly.”
―Association of Psychological Science,The Compassionate Mind.
The moral of the story is this: if compassion doesn’t come easily to you, consider watching videos and reading articles that will help you improve upon this area of your life. The Internet is chock-full of information, guided meditations, and relevant strategies to help you develop this critical skill set.
And we are 100% convinced the extra effort will translate to more money in your pocket.
So how in the world do you get started?
First, put their shoes on and go for a walk.
Once you feel a client is beginning to indicate how they feel about a particular subject or problem, gain understanding by slipping on their “shoes” for a bit.
“The best salespeople step out of their shoes and into those of their potential client. They think about a day in the life of their prospects, with the goal of creating a deeper connection.” – Quotable by Salesforce, Are You Missing this Powerful Selling Skill?
Typically, it comes more naturally to most of us to express that we can only “imagine” how a client feels. Can you instead put yourself in their shoes and actually take on the feelings as though they were your own? Can you share that space with another person, most importantly, a client?
If you can, it will work in your favor.
That kind of thought process, feeling, and empathy create an immediate connection and establishes a foundation of care and trust between you and your client.
You’ll see your sales results skyrocket.
As Colleen Stanley says in Why do Empathetic Sales People Win More?, “Soft skills do produce hard sales results.”
But not so fast.
Start by hearing what others have to say.
Are you able to listen to others?
Better yet, are you able to give someone the space to interpret events or facts in a way that’s different from your own ideas? Do you pass judgment? Can you accept an opinion that varies from the one you hold?
Can you make a client feel like they are right at home with you?
In traditional sales, we are constantly trained to try to change people’s minds. But in empathy sales, beginning with care and adopting compassion, we no longer have to worry about trying to change someone’s mind. Instead, we get ahead by understanding the other person’s mind and then filling the space with them as opposed to us.
The more time we spend truly hearing the prospect or client and learning to understand them, the more they’ll want to work with us above any other competitor. That’s the only “secret sauce” you need, people.
He who wins at empathy in the short term wins at sales in the long term.
To rise to that level you must visualize yourself as the buyer, prospect, or client. What is it you believe, and why do you believe it? How did you get into the conversation to begin with? What questions do you have for the sales agent and how can you trust that what they were telling you is true?
If you’re like us, you probably cringe every time you imagine a sales pitch. That’s because they suck. Like, really suck. In a culture so focused on authenticity-speak and transparency, we are wired to withdraw from interactions that seem even the slightest bit “fake” or salesy.
Lose the need to sell and adopt the need to solve a problem. You’ll no longer have to worry about what their answer will be.
Before you take on another individual’s feelings, make sure you can actually handle them.
Don’t start playing around with emotional empathy without first considering whether you can manage the emotions of others.
And what you need to “know before you go” is that before you can handle the emotions of others, you must be able to manage your own.
So, how do you make the most of this emotionoledge (yes, we made that word up)?
While it’s perfectly wonderful to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, that isn’t going to pay the mortgage. Expert salespeople have the ability to create change and drive action. They know how to get their client out of those same shoes they’ve been wearing for the last three decades and step into some Gucci flashtrek sneakers with removable crystals. I mean, who wouldn’t want to wear those?
To achieve this, use your own emotional intelligence to help your client understand the cost of their inaction. What might happen if they don’t act now and something happens later? Help them put on the empathy hat for their business colleagues and clients as well…i.e. this is how your employees might feel if you ignore that looming recession and need to initiate substantial layoffs…
At the end of the day…
The best, most memorable salespeople are those who possess the ability to create a high-level rapport with others, from the existing client to the prospect to the receptionist in between.
They make “connecting with others” their competitive advantage.
Using care, empathy, and compassion an effective salesperson connects with others on a superlatively humane level, generating trust and confidence in his or her wake that results in one clear corollary: increased sales.
If you need help improving your sales process or finding the right people for your sales team, contact Bolder & Co. Creative Studios at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll help your sales department move from lackluster to lucrative in no time.