Empathy in Sales: Why It’s Important and How to Do It

With empathy, one person can better understand another's emotional experiences. This helps create powerful bonds — which is why sales reps must be empathetic.

Empathy in Sales: Why It's Important and How to Do It

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There are so many different skills and traits that deserve attention in the business world, especially sales. 

However, empathy is the one skill that is underrated, overlooked, and undervalued.

Empathy in sales is hardly ever mentioned, but it has the power to take your business to levels of success that you never believed were possible and blow your competitors out of the water.

It also helps to form a human connection that is often non-existent otherwise.

When sales are made personal by your sales team, the best interests of the customer are taken into account and there is a much higher chance of a sale being successful.

If you are interested in learning more about empathy in sales, keep reading.

    How Does Empathy in Sales Work?

    Empathy has the ability to transform the standard sales call into a true connection between a salesperson and a customer. 

    It helps a customer earn a sense of trust and confidence in a company.

    Basically, empathy is the secret superpower of sellers.

    Empathy can put a salesperson in the proper mindset — with the customer as the priority and ultimately in the customer’s shoes — making it much easier for them to understand where the customer is coming from.

    It also makes it easier for the salesperson to identify the customer’s needs and come up with the best possible solution to the customer’s problems.

    When empathy in sales exists, salespeople can have better interactions with customers, foster stronger relationships, and meet/exceed their goals.

    Why Do You Need Empathy in Sales When You’re Closing Deals?

    Empathy is so important throughout every step of the sales process.

    This specific skill or trait can help salespeople deal with potential roadblocks and obstacles in a much more effective manner.

    When empathy is used in the sales world, it essentially helps both the customer and the sales representative in so many different ways. 

    Here is a look at a few of them.

    Empathy Focuses on the Needs of the Customer

    Regardless of where a customer is in the sales funnel, the customer’s needs always come first. 

    Unfortunately, this does not always happen because salespeople are focused more on making a sale than anything else.

    However, when there is empathy in sales, there is a much higher chance for sales representatives to focus more on what customers are needing. 

    This is because their thought process is no longer on making a sale. Instead, they are focused on understanding what could encourage the customer to make a purchase and solve any problems they may be facing.

    Empathy Builds Trust and Relationships

    Customers don’t see salespeople as trustworthy. 

    In fact, less than half of buyers view the sales profession as honest and trustworthy. 

    Nevertheless, nearly 90 percent of buyers say they look at the salespeople that they do regular business with as individuals they actually trust.

    So, where does the difference come in? It’s empathy. 

    It is the ability of the sales representative to be able to make the customer feel heard and appreciated. 

    This is key in building trust between a customer and a salesperson, as well as forming a strong, lasting relationship.

    Empathy Increases Sales and Loyalty

    When you have salespeople who are empathetic, they will be able to close sales by anticipating the customer’s needs and demonstrating how the product/service will fit into their lives. 

    In turn, sales will increase.

    However, if salespeople are unable to use empathy in sales to close the deal, which means they are unable to truly understand the needs and desires of customers, they can’t explain how a product or service truly helps a customer in their day-to-day life.

    As a result, the customer cannot go on to explain how these products and services make their lives easier and more pleasurable. 

    Unfortunately, this leads to a lack of customer loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing, aka referrals.

    Therefore, in order to increase sales, maintain customer loyalty, and generate customer referrals, empathy in sales must be present.

    Selling with Empathy: Strategies You Should Know

    Now that you’re familiar with what empathy is and how it can help you, let’s take a look at a few empathy selling strategies.

    #1: Identify Potential Pain Points and Express Empathy

    When you empathize with another individual, you have the ability to understand their problems in a way that is not possible otherwise. 

    When connecting with a buyer, it is imperative that you try to identify their potential pain points and then show empathy for their situation.

    In doing so, you are showing the customer you care about them and understand where they’re coming from. 

    You are showing them that they are not just another number on the list and that they are indeed a person to you who has real feelings and real problems.

    Just make sure that you use the right wording — you need to know the proper way to express empathy.

    Here are some phrases that can prove to be helpful when used at the right time in a conversation:

    • “I understand how you’re feeling.”
    • “That must be really hard.”
    • “I completely understand. So, how can I help you get past this?”
    • “Okay, I understand. You’re saying…”

    #2: Be Present and Listen

    While it is always great to be a few steps ahead, this means that you are not present and focused on the light at the end of the tunnel. 

    Unfortunately, buyers can sense this. They don’t like to be pushed into a sale, regardless of whether you are intending to do that or not.

    Therefore, as a salesperson, it is imperative that you slow down and simply be present in the moment. 

    Focus on what is going on presently. This allows you to better identify your customer’s emotions and steer the conversation in the most natural direction.

    Being present in the moment and conversation also means that you must be actively listening to your customer. 

    This means you can’t turn on your selective hearing like you used to with your parents when they talked to you.

    You need to truly listen to your customers at all times to hear everything they’re saying to you. Further, you need to hear how they’re saying it to you and what they aren’t saying to you.

    If you’re speaking to them in person, pay special attention to their body language. More often than not, body language says so much more than words.

    #3: Ask the Right Questions

    You must be willing to do more than just listen. 

    You must also be able to ask the right questions. Otherwise, being an empathetic salesperson doesn’t go as far as it should.

    So, once you have made a connection with a buyer, you must start asking thoughtful, genuine questions that correspond to what your buyer has been saying to you throughout the entire conversation.

    By asking questions while showing your concern for your customer’s situation, you will be able to learn more about your customer and what they’re going through, which will help you figure out how to help them.

    With clarifying questions, you can potentially uncover the entire story of the situation that they’re experiencing. 

    Of course, if you haven’t already established a connection with your customer, don’t expect detailed or even immediate answers.

    If you are able to frame your questions in a way that reflects a sincere interest in helping (hence empathize with them), you will instill a sense of trust in your customer and give them the confidence they need to share information with you that is beneficial.

    #4: Always Be Relatable

    A lot of people don’t like to open up. 

    However, when you’re closed off as a salesperson, the customer can sense this and doesn’t want to open up themselves.

    While it is not necessary to tell them about your entire childhood growing up or the problems you faced after high school, you do need to figure out a way to be relatable to the customer.

    By becoming vulnerable on a personal level with the customer, you are showing them that you are able to empathize with them. 

    You are revealing that you aren’t just pretending and putting on an act. You are who you are on the inside, which is a real person just like them.

    Wrap Up

    Empathy instills trust, which is the bottom-level foundation to any solid customer-company relationship.

    But you must ensure that you are consistently showing empathy towards customers and that the empathy being shown is genuine each and every time. 

    Your sales team needs to put themselves in the shoes of their customers, actively listen to them, ask the right questions, and be relatable.

    By empathizing with customers, your sales team can truly understand their customers and more effectively close a sale.

    If you are interested in further improving the human touch to your business beyond empathy in sales, then don’t overlook the importance of human-to-human marketing in your overall business strategy!


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