Many articles have been written about what makes a good salesperson. However, we are not interested in good, we are interested in great; and what makes a great salesperson is an equal dose of empathy and assertiveness. Here’s why.
What is Empathy
Empathy is defined as: “the ability to share someone else’s feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s situation”. Now, in the world of sales, empathy can often be viewed as a sign of weakness, a skill not to be used in order to secure the bottom line and desired results.
However, empathy provides an opportunity to understand the client’s problems or needs, allowing the salesperson to guide, offer a solution. Empathy builds connections and relationships of trust with customers. It is the difference between making a sale, and offering a genuine solution to a problem. It makes for long lasting business relationships and returning, happy customers.
Selling With Empathy
Exercising empathy during a sales conversation will help salespeople understand their prospect’s or client’s emotional state, automatically improving their ability to engage them. So how does one exercise empathy? The answer is, with very specific actions. Let’s take a look at what those are.
Empathetic Salespeople Are Present And Listen
Selling is often about changing people’s minds. Buying this product instead of another or using this service, instead of the competition’s. However, too many people in sales attempt to change their prospect’s mind too early in the game. Yet, humans have a way of sensing when someone is trying to get to a predetermined outcome.
During a sales conversation, empathetic salespeople are not thinking about quotas or how fast they can close the deal. Rather, they are focused and in the moment. They are truly hearing what their prospect is saying (and not saying), without bias and assumptions. This allows them to better understand where their client is coming from, and where they need to get.
Empathetic Salespeople Dig Deeper
Being a great listener also means asking great questions. Empathetic salespeople are good at identifying those brief remarks that need clarifications. It is often in those remarks, that a good salesperson can identify a fundamental problem that needs to be addressed.
Empathetic Salespeople Get Out Of Their Own Head
The expression says it best: “put yourself into someone else’s shoes”. This essentially means to change one’s own perspective in order to understand someone else’s. It’s the action of literally imagining what it would be like to be in the client’s situation. This goes beyond logically relating to the situation. Rather, it means feeling the emotions that come with being in that particular situation. Validating the customer’s emotions will create an authentic connection. No generic sales pitch could ever have that same effect.
Empathetic Salespeople Have a Win-Win Attitude
All people in sales ultimately want to sell. However, empathetic salespeople want to do more than that: they are looking to offer a genuine solution to their client’s problem or concern. Empathetic salespeople want to win, sure, they want to close the deal. However, they also want their client to win, and benefit from buying into that deal.
Now that we have seen that it is imperative to have a good dose of empathy in sales, let see why it is important to throw assertiveness into the mix.
What is Assertiveness
Assertiveness is defined as “the quality of being confident and not frightened to defend one’s rights or opinions without infringing on those of others”. By this definition, an assertive salesperson is someone who moves forward, and does so without being pushy. Let’s look at what qualities define an assertive salesperson.
An Assertive Salesperson is Confident
Assertive salespeople believe in themselves and their product, but they also believe in their customer. They have done their research, asked the right questions, and know that their product or service will ultimately help their prospect. This confidence helps them to remain genuine, and, as a result, develop relationships of trust with their clients.
An Assertive Salesperson is Open, Honest and Direct
As mentioned above, salespeople want to sell. When a salesperson is engaged in a conversation with a client, the client knows that, ultimately, the seller is looking to close a deal. For this reason, when all is said and done, there is no reason to beat around the bush, or delay closing the sale until a later date. Assertive salespeople know this. That is why they are forthright about what they want, and they ask it clearly, concisely, and without fear.
An Assertive Salesperson Will Have A Problem-Solving Approach
When faced with challenges, assertive salespeople will do whatever it takes to find a solution to the problem. They will always look to offer valuable and useful solutions to their clients, rather than simply closing a one-time sale.
Assertive salespeople also won’t feel threatened when things don’t go as planned. Rather, they will be resilient, bounce back and look for innovative ways to turn things around.
Although, on first look, assertiveness and empathy might seem to be completely opposite traits, they actually go hand-in-hand in creating the perfect salesperson. Empathy allows the salesperson to understand and relate to the clients in order to offer them the right solutions. However, salespeople also need to be assertive and clearly communicate what their standpoint in order to avoid being passive and potentially missing-out on closing the deal.