Me, me, me, me, me, meeeeeeeeeeee… Unfortunately, that’s how B2B buyers think many sales professionals ‘warm up’ before ‘belting out’ a pitch. You can’t blame them, really. How many times over the past week alone have you gotten an email that sounded like “Can I take 10 minutes of your time?” or “Check out this new thing I’m offering” or something similarly me-me-me-focused?
What’s missing here is empathy. Sales interactions that lack empathy come across as careless and impersonal, with buyers and customers left feeling like sellers are interested only in themselves. Taking an empathetic approach to sales and marketing means a give-first approach, putting yourself in the buyer’s shoes and thinking about their needs and concerns before thinking about closing a deal.
As Alyce’s own Daniel Rodriguez said recently on an episode of the MarTech podcast, “Empathy is really the foundational building block to trust as well as reciprocity, which means you get opportunities created and get your deals over the finish line.”
Similarly, in The 7 Traits of Perfect Salespeople, HubSpot highlighted empathy as something that separates top-performing sales pros from the rest of the pack, saying, “Empathy [is the] the ability to understand and share someone else’s feelings. Empathetic salespeople can place themselves in their prospects’ shoes, which helps them anticipate objections as well as make buyers feel heard.”
What does empathy look like in B2B sales and marketing?
In B2B selling, being empathetic means listening to truly hear and understand someone’s situation, not listening to figure out when you can take your turn to talk about the product or service you’re selling. Being empathetic means putting the buyer’s needs first and going out of your way to understanding them on a personal, real level.
One of my colleagues recently shared a great example of empathy in action. One of his former coworkers was a top-performing salesperson and had a longstanding relationship with a prospect. Outside of work, she was a trained violinist. Over the course of a conversation one day, this salesperson found out that his prospect was frustrated that she can’t travel with her favorite violin because she can’t find a good case that will work well on a flight. With empathy guiding the way, he decided that he wanted to take it upon himself to find one for her.
If this sales leader hadn’t been championing empathy in a give-first approach, he may have lost a valuable opportunity to show he was truly listening and truly cared about the prospect’s unique story.
What happens when you’re empathetic?
Ultimately, when you emphasize empathy in your sales and marketing efforts, you’re showing your prospects and customers that you care about them and the relationship you’re building with them – not just about closing a deal. When you’re being empathetic, you’re validating people.
What happens when you’re empathetic and take a give-first (not me-first) approach to sales? Your prospects and customers feel like they really matter to you and your business as real people, not just as a target buyer to close. And that can turn into a win-win for everyone.
Empathy is a key piece of Alyce’s REAL approach to humanizing B2B sales and marketing – it’s our letter E. Check out our post covering the letter R, and stay tuned for upcoming blog posts covering A and L.
Now, here’s your REAL challenge: What will YOU do this week to be more EMPATHETIC with your prospects? Share your ideas in the comments!