What Every Salesperson Should Know about Empathy

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Everybody wants to know what drives buying decisions. Companies conduct surveys, focus groups and research projects all the time in search of an answer. Over and over again, the word we hear most often from participants is “empathy.” However empathy is a highly subjective term and can be interpreted many ways. Here are seven interpretations of empathy to help you get inspired:
First, a definition from the American Heritage Dictionary: “Identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feeling and motive.” Pretty cool, huh? That says it all.
A less-sophisticated but equally powerful way to look at empathy is an oft-used expression: “Walk a mile in the other guy’s shoes.” In other words, try to look at things from the client’s point of view.
We never tire of reviewing management expert David Maister’s quote: “Clients don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Empathy trumps credibility every time.
Lois Rotkoff calls empathy an “internal mechanism that enables you to better understand what is happening around you.” Use what is happening internally to respond to external situations.
In their bestselling book, Leadership Presence, The Ariel Group explains that empathy is: “Finding the humanity in someone else, even in their weaknesses, and connecting that humanity with your own.” Use this philosophy to connect with your toughest clients — the results will speak for themselves.
In a similar sense, there is the intersecting circle rationale. Here is your circle, and here is your client’s — now, where do those two circles intersect? Or, put another way, what do you have in common and how can you relate?
Now, our concept of empathy. It’s nothing more than listening as carefully as you can to truly understand what drives the client, and relating to him or her as effectively as possible.
Buyers expect a lot from salespeople. But empathy tops that list. Do whatever you can to demonstrate this behavior; there will always be a payout.
The Importance of Positioning Statements
Speaking of empathy, there are times in our business when we must have difficult client conversations. Whether we are turning down their loan app, increasing fees, enforcing a policy or delivering other bad news, it is all part of the job.
Whenever you are facing one of these difficult conversations, strategic use of positioning statements can make the situation much more bearable. A positioning statement is a climate setter — it establishes the tone of the meeting. It also provides you with the opportunity to let the client know your intentions before you discuss anything.
There are three key components associated with every good positioning statement. Let’s take a look at each:
Positioning the Meeting in the Context of the Relationship
First, a positioning statement has to reference your relationship with the client. It is important to let the client know that your relationship is of primary importance to you and that, although you have some challenging things to discuss, you will discuss them with your relationship in mind:
“Jim, we have been working together for several years and have worked hard to be a viable resource and collaborative partner. I want you to know before we begin our discussion how important this relationship is to me and my company.”
Clarify your Intentions and Desired Outcomes
It is equally important to clarify your intentions, as they can easily be misinterpreted. We all know that intentions are not always consistent with the impact of what you say, and a difficult conversation is the last place you want that to happen. Be clear as you express your desired outcome:
“My intent today is to reach a mutually acceptable solution to the issue we discussed. I hope we can leave this meeting feeling good about our conclusions. I am confident that we can.”
Clarify the Client’s Desired Outcome
The conversation can never be just about you. Up to this point, you have been discussing what you want, what you value and what you intend to accomplish. It shows respect for the client when you ask them to express their intentions next:
“Having said that, I would now like to know your thoughts. Can you share with me what you hope to accomplish today? I want this meeting to have positive results for both of us.”
The intent is to get that challenging meeting off to a great, positive, diplomatic start. By reminding the client of the importance and value of the relationship; clarifying your intentions and desired outcome; and learning what they want to accomplish, you increase the likelihood that your meeting will achieve its objectives.
Use positioning statements, and your challenging conversations may just become a bit more comfortable. The reduced stress and tension will be worth it, every time.

By: www.barongroup.com

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