It should have been an easy travel day. No weather problems on either end of the flight route. Ample time between connections. And then came the unexpected problem of the airplane trying to detach from the gate, which created a 20-minute Olympic sprint to catch my next flight.
As I approached the ticket agent, there wasn’t any acknowledgement of my situation, which was quite clear by my shortness of breath. There was no, “Glad you made it. Good thing you wore your tennis shoes.” Heck, at that point, I would have settled for eye contact!
As I settled into my seat, I was reminded of how easy it is for all of us to get desensitized to our customer’s pain. The ticket agent’s indifference to my pain reminded me of advice that an early mentor in the speaking and training business gave to me.
“When you are presenting a topic for the 100th time, remember, for your audience it’s their first time. Show up to every engagement as if it’s your first.”
Like the ticket agent, who has encountered hundreds of running passengers, it can be easy for all of us in sales to become desensitized to our customer’s problems. When you’ve been selling in your industry long enough, you’ve heard and seen similar pains.
- We are not getting good customer service.
- We’ve having quality issues.
- The last vendor overpromised and underdelivered.
- The new service/product isn’t performing as promised.
- And …
After hearing the same pains 100 times, it’s easy to get desensitized. You may not demonstrate empathy. Or if you do, it’s generic empathy. “Sorry to hear that. That must be frustrating.”
Empathy box checked.
Apply my early mentor’s advice. The next time a prospect shares a business problem, act as if it’s the first time you’ve heard the issue. Be curious about the implications of the pain and demonstrate real-world empathy.
“Sorry to hear about the poor customer service you are experiencing. I guessing it’s frustrating not only because of the lack of service but also because you can’t get to your real job. Can you tell me more?”
Take time to reflect and ask yourself: Where am I getting desensitized in my sales approach? Am I really tuning into the prospect’s pain or just checking the box with my answers?
There is a happy ending.
Once I boarded the plane, there was an empathetic flight attendant that paid attention. He noticed the look on my face when all the overhead bin doors were shut, indicating they were full. He took extra time, opened closed doors and found a place for my travel bag.
This flight attendant acted like it was his first flight.