Tag Archives: empathy

Empathy Improves Sales

Sometimes salespeople get a bad rap. It’s a little too easy to imagine Jordan Belfort on the main floor of Stratton Oakmont yelling to money-grubbing cold callers, “Pick up the phone and start dialing!” Those tactics, and their subsequent failure, leave a lot to be desired.

We’ve all had pushy salespeople, whether getting a new car or buying software. It just doesn’t feel good. That’s not how ReadyTalk Sales works.

For companies interested in outstanding customer service, meaningful relationships, and sustainable practices, there are better strategies. Empathizing with potential clients and establishing connections with them is not only more ethical, it provides better results. Those better results are all about making prospects — potential customers — happy, while selling great products.

Salespeople are partners

Don’t take the approach of being a salesperson, take the approach of a consultant, someone who genuinely cares what the client is trying to achieve. An effective sale starts by building trust with the customer. If you can build rapport and ask the right questions, and the client can share information with you, you can better provide the right solution. Everyone walks away happy.

Listen, understand and ask the right questions

Imagine you have a client that has asked for advice. You know the best solution for them, the one that will save them the most money and allow them to get the best value. But they’re too worried about the up front sticker price, and would prefer a less committed option — even if it might end up more expensive. You could cut your losses and walk away.

Or you could ask some questions. Find out why they’re uncomfortable, and work to build a rapport so the client can trust you. You might notice a solution that didn’t exist before, because you didn’t have the relationship it needed to be built upon. Sometimes a small change in a solution can go a long way in converting a maybe to definitely, and that customization let’s the buyer know they’re in good hands.

You get a sale, the buyer gets what they need. Listening, understanding, and putting in the effort to make it work: that’s what being a salesperson is all about.Customer marketing

Listen and work to implement good ideas

On some occasions you’ll get the opportunity to find out more about a client’s personal life. You’re not the best of friends, but you keep up with the important aspects, and enjoy the fact that your relationship is more than purely transactional. These are the perfect candidates to offer feedback about new products. They already provide good business, they might provide more if they like the product, and they’re comfortable enough to tell you the truth.

In some cases the feedback will prove useful, and if you’re lucky enough to work with a responsive product team, you may be able to push the client a prototype that addresses their “must-haves.”

Not only is it valuable information, but the “improved” product increases the chances to expand a potential revenue stream, and reinforces the idea that you care about the client’s business.

Understand sometimes the prospect should use another solution

Clients are going to leave. It’s a sad fact we all must face. But a departure doesn’t necessarily mean a failure, especially if done tactfully.

Your organization’s product won’t always be the right solution for the customer. When you see that, be upfront about it. It’s unethical to trap someone into a contract if you know it won’t work, but more than that, it burns all bridges to later business.

Your organization might develop a solution that does solve that customer’s needs, but the customer won’t work with you if you’ve deceived them in the past. The proactive approach will let you sleep better at night and help you convert a lead to a sale down the road.

What goes around comes around

It’s all about listening and understanding. You can’t change people’s needs, you can only do your best to ask questions and understand exactly what they need. To be a great salesperson, it’s about empathy — to think less about the “win” and more about what’s right for your prospect and customer.

Empathy Improves Marketing

While sympathy and empathy are often used interchangeably, they’re far from being the same. Sympathy is the feeling of compassion, concern or care for another person or group of people. Empathy, on the other hand, is the ability to “put yourself in other people’s shoes” to understand and experience what they’re feeling. Essentially, empathy takes sympathy to an entirely new level.

That’s vital for marketing people when thinking about content, demand and lead generation, customer marketing, product marketing and website design. For content, coming up with what might help potential consumers and current customers, you need to know what you’re audience is thinking. What worries do they have? And how can you alleviate this pain? Images that look like your audience helps, too. For people creating various campaigns, it’s important to consider how do people want this information? What are the words that may help them rather than seem like I’m just marketing to them? Customer marketing knows how to interact with customers and what they’re struggling with and how to help. Product marketing needs to think about how items are marketed to potential customers. And website design has to consider usability as well as just about everything before from the content itself to where the words and images flow on a page.

In general, feeling empathy helps you understand pain points. Understanding pain points improves how you know your audience and do good marketing.

It’s more than that — it’s about being special

what is company cultureSeth Godin, marketing guru, calls on marketers to welcome people into their tribe. Niche marketing helps and really the only way to know what will resonate is through empathy and some careful review of metrics. Knowing your niche market helps in targeting your content, message and campaigns. Even if your product has nothing to do with Star Wars, but your audience and employees love Star Wars, maybe it’s time to figure out how your product and the sci-fi franchise work together.

In today’s customer-centered marketplace, consumers want to feel valued and special – not like one in a pool of a thousand other buyers. This is why incorporating empathy into your marketing efforts is so valuable for businesses today.

Become a customer yourself

One of the best ways to truly understand and experience what your consumers are feeling is to become a customer yourself. Go undercover and experience the entire process at both your company and your competitors to discover your organization’s pain points and benefits. This will help you truly see where your customers’ concerns are originating from and how to address them effectively in your marketing efforts.

Be transparent

empathy improves marketingDon’t hide from bad reviews or constructive criticism – embrace it! If you get called out in LinkedIn for bad service, acknowledge it and say, “Thanks for the feedback.” If you are transparent about your customer experience, more consumers may grow interested in your honest operational approach and products. Share all customer experiences and insights on your social media and testimonial pages to show future buyers that you recognize their concerns and are working to fix them.

Domino’s Pizza is one example of a business that turned a customer disaster into a successful learning experience. Instead of ignoring or covering up their poor quality or customer service, the executives acknowledged these facts and reinvented their brand – to great success, according to Business Insider. To be truly empathetic to your customer base, you must be completely transparent and open.

Be authentic

Fake empathy isn’t really empathy. It doesn’t resonate, either. Being genuine does more. For example, Coca Cola releases through social media pictures of real people. They’re not touched up. They don’t look like they’ve been edited in Photoshop. Instead, they look like someone from the office took them. In general, that marketing does better.

Where your brand is, where your employees are, and where your customers are — that’s the perfect intersection on how to target content, campaigns, social and more.

Want to Improve Customer Service? Be Empathetic.

ReadyTalk is unique in the unified communications world. We have employees available 24/7, all located in Colorado and Canada, who want to talk with people. Our customers never go to a recorded audio with instructions; everyone gets a real person.

And real people are exactly what ReadyTalk has; Leah Niu is a customer care representative and one of those real people. In fact, she’s an expert on empathy and why it’s important.

What is empathy to you?

Leah: It’s understanding and being able to share someone’s feelings. It’s being relatable and relating back. Being present and in the moment. I put myself in other’s shoes.

How do you practice empathy?

Leah: When people call in it’s because they’re new to starting a meeting with our products. They’re usually calling when the meeting is about to begin and they’re stressed and frantic. They have something important happening and are unable to do it. That’s a terrible feeling! We’ve all been there. Everyone hates that feeling. I hate it, too.

My job is to do what I can so they leave the call being able to do what they set out to do and feeling better. It’s why we — real people — answer those calls rather than send someone to a user guide or knowledge base. When you’re at that point, you need a person to talk you through something. That’s empathy, too — knowing someone needs a reassuring voice.

I listen, understand the issue and clarify it, let them know they’re not alone through validation — that I’m here — and help them resolve that issue. Sometimes it’s a creative solution I come at and sometimes it’s something we come to together. That’s important — it’s a partnership.

After talking with me, they’re confident and calm, ready to take on the challenge that caused them to call. In fact, my hope is to empower customers, helping them know how to use our products better. I want them not to call, but for the right reasons — I want them to be expert users and feel confident.

But really, it all starts with, “I’m here with you and for you.”

Why is empathy important?

Leah: Our toughest calls involve people who are panicked and upset. Before we can even get to the issue, we need them to understand we’re here for them and we’ve felt that way, too.

It’s also important to me personally. I get emotionally invested in things. When I’m having a hard time, I don’t need someone telling me what to do. I need someone who listens and validates my experience in that challenging moment. I need to know that I can practice trust before I’m prepared to be vulnerable.

That’s true with others, too. When people call us, and can’t do something — they’re vulnerable! They need someone to say, “Thanks for calling us and trusting us. You’ll always be picked up by a real person. Now, let’s do this together.” What they don’t need is just someone telling them what to do.

Not being empathetic can hinder a customer from using our product. That could mean a lost customer or someone who’s complaining to friends about us. We don’t want that. We want happy employees and happy customers.

What happens when the call is about something we don’t offer in our product?

Leah: That happens sometimes and we’re open to it. I’m part of a group that follows up — taking customer service calls into product discussions. If one person is calling and asking for something, chances are good that others are thinking about it, but not expressing the request themselves.

How can you train someone to be empathetic?

Leah: Most, if not all of the time, you can’t. There are a lot of things you can train for, but empathy is one of the hardest, mostly because it’s often a personality trait. You can train people to be active listeners though; I guess that’s a good step toward being empathetic. But to have true empathy — that’s more than a skill; it’s innate.

Leah Niu is an expert at empathy, which is why she's so good at customer service.

About Leah Niu

Leah’s a Jill of all trades and has done everything from managing in retail to writing for the Motley Fool to running a nonprofit. She believes in the power of good service and investing in people, partly why she’s a good customer care representative. How good is she? Within here first 60 days at ReadyTalk, she received a thank you gift basket from a customer for her help.

Her advice: Stay open to being taught. In just every interaction there’s something someone can teach you as well as something you can teach.