Knowing one’s customer is vital in sales. Having a strong sense of empathy can make a contender stand out amongst other representatives regardless of what is being sold.


Consider a person in technology sales who generally focuses the sales and pitch to a VP; that salesperson should also be considering the organization at a holistic level, taking, for instance, the company’s IT department that will see to the implementation of the salesperson’s solution. If the salesperson understands the concerns of the department regarding adding new software, then he or she can extend the conversation to IT members and explore overcoming those hurdles.


In this example, the salesperson spreads empathy by broadening the approach and considering all of the people who will be impacted by whatever solution is being sold. This can only be done if, first, they effectively prepare for their pitch and conduct sufficient research on the customer’s needs. An empathetic approach should be taken through everything. This includes messaging, deal strategy, communications, and the close. Consider where a customer is coming from when engaging with them for the first time. Check LinkedIn and social media. Get a complete view of the person. Empathize with them, not as names and wallets but as people.


The sales cycle continues to turn, and so larger meetings begin to occur with several different people in the room, all of whom have differing roles, agendas, concerns, and questions. The salesperson’s goal is to get everyone in the room walking away happy and eager to see how the sales pitch will positively impact their jobs. Empathy homework makes this reasonable.


Be inclusive. Use empathy to ask just the right questions. From there, use a sequence of questions with open ends to develop the buyer perspective: their needs, the deal’s timing, their challenges, their authority to buy.


Refine the perspective of the buyer through provocative questions. Each potential buyer comes to a sales meeting with a particular opinion and perspective regarding their business. The salesperson’s job is to challenge those views, offering up a new perspective and providing an alternative solution.


Selling is all about buying; this is the heart of empathy in sales. Do not fixate on pitches and features. Instead, take the time to view through the buyer’s eyes.