Thursday, September 23, 2010

"I Understand How You Feel" for Great Sellers

Back in the sixties and to this day, most sales training has focused on the "consultative" approach, features to benefits transitions and the memorization of objections and how to o------- them. (Right, "overcome"). Most sellers learn how to deal with these interactions within weeks of starting their careers. And all buyers have had hundreds of these conversations per year times the number of years they've been buying. The outcomes for all are average. Sellers get average shares, buyers make average buys and clients get average results.

A small percentage of sales people would just as soon play Russian roulette as this game. Rather they are in the business of expending all of their energy and creativity toward developing enough credibility (trust) from their customers, to be able to partner with them in throwing conventional wisdom to the wind and struggling to identify opportunities for growth and gauging the risk and reward attendant to their discoveries.

They do that by learning what they can about the customer before any contact is made, rather than, "Hi, I'm here. Can you teach me all about what you've learned in the past couple of decades that you have been in business so that I can see if I can help you?".

They do that by telling the customer the truth as they see it about what challenges they suspect lurk, and those as yet undiscovered by them and perhaps even by the client.

They sincerely express their desire to help!

They suggest they and the client should get started partnering together the sooner the better so that the rewards of their work are enjoyed sooner than later.

Phew! How do they do all that?

The answer is they are committed to the above and disciplined to tenaciously adhere to those pathways...and they learn more than a little about selling. One of the tenets the great ones learn early is the importance of empathy. "Mr. Jones, I don't understand why you are struggling. Your business isn't brain surgery and everyone else seems to be doing just fine," is probably not going to be received all that well. Now the seller might be correct in his assessment of the situation, but the approach may fall short in its attempt to forge a trusting relationship which might otherwise open the door to meaningful work together.

Another very tired and unfruitful tact is the all too popular "Yes, But"..." (You know, I've had other customers say the same thing, but I have found)..

Likewise, The attempt to demonstrate empathy by employing the tried and untrue, "I understand how you feel Mr. Jones but," has almost no value in demonstrating empathy.

Here's what does work:


Mr. Jones says, "I cannot bring myself to spend money this month on marketing. Business stinks and if it does't pick up I might not make rent in two months."

You say, "I too have made irrational and disastrous decisions because I was afraid to take a risk."

Here's what that does. By saying "I too" you have implicated your buyer with the same irrational and potentially disastrous outcome as you say you have experienced by being too cautious. You just served an ace. And, you've demonstrated Empathy.

Great Selling!

Love Your Work and Work Tirelessly
Communicate Honestly and Fearlessly
Serve, Don't Sell
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