Using empathy creates the perfect, simple saleWritten by Tom Richard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Sitting down for a business appointment at a familiar breakfast spot, it didn’t take me long to review the menu and know that I wanted my usual omelet. My business friend, Mark, on the other hand, wasn’t a regular, and the confused look on his face suggested he was battling with the choice of a few different breakfast selections.
Arriving to take our order, the waitress asked if we needed a few more minutes. I calmly announced I was ready if Mark was. Without taking his eyes off the menu, Mark confirmed, “You go first, and I’ll know by the time you’re done.” As I finished rattling off my customary, yet delicious, choices, the cloud over Mark’s head dissipated. He smiled and proudly announced his final decision: the Western omelet.
Thinking the ordering process was finally complete, Mark set down his menu and turned his attention back to our previous conversation. After scratching down his order, the waitress looked at Mark again and asked in a pleasant tone, “Did you want home fries with that?”
Surprised with the bonus, Mark smiled as if he just won the breakfast lottery.
“Gee, I don’t know,” he said as he began to reach for the menu again. Then, in mid-movement, he paused, looked up at the waitress and asked, “Well, what are my choices?”
Dumbfounded, the waitress answered, “Yes or no.”
Wow. I could not contain my laughter as I found myself sitting in the middle of one of the most awkward customer service situations of which I could think. While Mark expected to hear a list of side options, the waitress literally just wanted to know whether he wanted the home fries.
In most instances, simplicity works wonderfully in sales. However, it must be used well in order to be effective. For instance, the waitress never considered that Mark might have been interested in a side other than home fries. Rather than understanding the purpose of Mark’s question or asking what other options he would like, the waitress saw the situation with a one-sided, tunnel-vision perspective.
Like any delicious breakfast platter, there must be a fine balance between all of the various ingredients to make the perfect, simple sale. The first ingredient is knowing your menu, inside and out — in other words, having product knowledge. The second ingredient is complementary: knowing when and how to use that product knowledge by incorporating intelligent empathy.
Intelligent empathy means putting yourself in your customer’s shoes to understand their needs and better help them with a solution. Without this important ingredient, you fall into the trap of oversimplifying your product knowledge or making it too complex for your customer. The more you understand your customer, the easier it will be to use your knowledge to give them the best service possible.
By looking at the situation from your customer’s perspective, you can evaluate the different variables that may affect their buying decision. For instance, knowing what part of the country your customer is in, whom your customer works with and what their main priorities are are all important factors that influence your customer’s decision.
Without intelligent empathy, a simple question like, “What are my choices?” may lead to an oversimplified approach to handling your customers’ problems. On the other hand, it may also lead to a litany of confusing choices, features and options. Either way, both are distracting for your customer and take the focus away from what they really need from you — a simple solution to their problem.
Putting yourself in your customer’s shoes will help you simplify the sale in the most effective way possible. You will have the confidence to look at your menu of product knowledge and offer those options that are best suited for a person in their shoes.
Tom Richard is a Toledo-based sales trainer, gives seminars, runs sales meetings and provides coaching for salespeople. For more information, visit www.TomRichard.com, call
(419) 441-1005 or e-mail email@example.com.