Empathy, by definition, is the ability to understand or share the feelings of another person. In terms of Emotional Intelligence and sales, empathy is the ability to “walk in a client’s shoes” and is a vital skill set. It has huge influence in your sales transactions and conversations.
Psychologists debate whether empathy is simply innate or can be nurtured. We, at SalesLeadership, think there’s some component to both of those elements but that doesn’t mean that you cannot strengthen and improve your ability to empathize, especially using it as an Emotional Intelligence skill. In fact, we know and believe many of us can and do.
Empathy isn’t just a soft and touchy feely skill. Top sales producers are often the best at utilizing empathy in their customer connections and prospect conversations. Here are a few of the benefits to building this critical Ei skill.
Empathy can build rapport, trust and validation. Imagine that you are meeting with a new prospect, an inherited prospect or a prospect that might appear to have reservations or concerns. Showing empathy by listening, acknowledging what he or she shared, and relating to the person can put the client back at ease and help to build trust. It helps to hear from others that we are not alone in our challenges. Empathy allows you and the customer to air out concerns and potential road blockers to sales.
Empathy allows you the ability to address a client’s fears and concerns. More than likely, your client will be walking into your sales meeting with fears or concerns already in the back of his or her mind. Rather than avoiding the topics, it can be beneficial for both of you to discuss them openly. Do not underestimate the value of acknowledging another’s concerns. This can make a huge impact, not just on the current sales transaction but in keeping the sales relationship thriving long term.
Being empathetic allows you to acknowledge that you have heard the other person correctly. Here’s one secret to building stronger professional sales relationships that can boost your rapport and numbers: Acknowledgment. Have you ever had someone repeat back to you what they thought you said? Did it always come out correctly the first time? If not, did it help you to get it right the second or subsequent times? Chances are it probably did. Acknowledging and mirroring back to the other person will get you both on the same page and can clarify information. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Empathy can elevate trust, build rapport and validation, and help both you and your client to meet goals. Sales professionals that are willing to continue to grow, listen and sharpen their empathy skills often see a payoff. We recommend it.