It has been said that about 1 in 5 can be trained to be a successful sales person. It has also been said that successful sales people need a special kind of EGO. Do you have a proper empathy-ego balance to succeed in sales?
I recently read a Biznik article about Empathy and Customer Service by Don Crawley. It got me to thinking about the sometimes confusion between the use of empathy in the sales process. When people perform BOTH sales and customer service, I think they sometimes forget the time-line of the relationship they are in and therefore loose sales and give poor service.
Customer Service comes after the prospect has purchased your product or your service. Empathy is paramount in this circumstance, but sometimes misunderstood on how to be used prior to the “sale”. Used properly, it can be a very effective closing tool.
To give great customer service, you must exercise empathic listening with your customer. To be a great sales person, you must listen with empathy (NOT sympathy) and you must have a special type of ego to balance your responses. You must remain in control of the conversation and if your empathy turns to sympathy, you will loose the sale. This is what we call the empathy ego balance.
Many service providers confuse the exercise of empathy in the sales process with their desire to show care and concern, thinking that it will endear the prospect to them and lead to a successful sale. Most of the time it leads to a “friendship” that never turns into a “business relationship”.
Sometimes they listen so deeply that it turns to sympathy and therefore they loose the sale by not suggesting the solution. This results in failure to provide the prospect with the benefit of the solution you are selling. When this happens, do you find yourself rationalizing the loss of the sale with an excuse that you gave concern and understanding in a charitable fashion?
You will usually recognize this when you notice that your “new friend” later purchased the product or service that you provide from someone else. The someone else has usually taken sales training and understands that they are not just a “commercial visitor” when they meet with the prospect.
Empathic listening will move your prospect in the direction of trusting that you understand their problem and their needs. But, a strong enough ego to believe that only YOU can provide the solution to their problem must prevail to close the sale.
The next step is then to make sure that YOUR empathy does not turn into sympathy. In order to HELP your prospect, you must also be able to detach yourself from the problem in order to offer the solution. You must listen and then CLOSE the sale. Who is selling to Whom?
A good resource to understanding empathic listening can be found in Stephen R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. A good resource to understand Empathic Selling is Zig Ziglar’s sales training.
In sales you need BOTH empathy AND ego.
Howard Howell writes about the art of selling. When not writing, he is teaching, speaking, or coaching about how to sell what you know.