Years ago, I was checking out the job market to see what possibilities might exist beyond the walls of my then employer. Shifts in company policies gave me enough pause to look into making a change.
When you don’t believe your company is doing enough to support your valued clients, it sometimes is prudent for a better place to work. These things happen, and things change.
I landed an interview with the regional vice president of a large, but local, office equipment company. They loved my resume, background and experience. The interview couldn’t have gone better, and it led to a couple of other interviews where I met other leaders on the sales team who would be part of the hiring decision.
The final step before an official offer was to take an extensive personnel assessment. I’m sure you’ve taken one (or several). I’m certainly no stranger to these assessments. You never really know how you score on them, and you have no way of knowing how you compare with what the company is looking for.
I took the test and was to follow up the next week if I hadn’t heard back from them. Upon following up, I could tell there was a shift in mood in how I was greeted.
“Well, we’ve decided to go a different way.”
Apparently, they all thought I would be a great fit, my resume certainly said so, and the interviews went extremely well. And my personnel assessment was pretty much exactly what they were looking for.
Except for one thing.
My empathy score was too high.
When the call was done, I hung up the phone and turned to my wife, who could tell the call hadn’t gone as expected. She was incredulous when I told her what had happened. After a bit of discussion, we determined that it was likely for the best.
A company that doesn’t value empathy in their sales professionals was likely more focused on the sales and delivery of products than the value of long-term relationships. It is a big red flag that indicates they adopt more of a churn-and-burn sales philosophy.
A sales team should embrace empathy for their clientele. Sales professionals should be well trained to put themselves in their clients’ shoes to better understand what their needs really are. Empathy allows you to become an extension of the client’s team within your area of expertise. You want to be their first phone call when your product or service is needed.
When a sales professional has a high level of empathy, they generally have high emotional intelligence by proxy. This is vital in developing a long-lasting business relationship. Empathy allows you to relate to the client and identify the challenges they face from their perspective. Emotional intelligence allows you to understand the deeper issues at hand and the client’s important attachments to them. When you see the problem through your client’s eyes, you are better equipped to deliver for them and be a partner in the sales process from start to finish.
Sales professionals who have developed a strong level of empathy can more effectively build rapport. Work for your company as you build your book of business and offer products and solutions, but work with your client as you match your solutions to what they need.
Developing empathy allows sales professionals to be better at consulting with their clients and finding creative solutions to their problems. One of the most important aspects of your career is to ask thought-provoking questions that show genuine understanding of their situation and the need for the right solution.
As a sales professional, if you already have a high level of empathy, you’re in a great position to put this into practice and elevate your career and perceived status among your clients.
If your level of empathy has room for improvement, there’s good news. It’s possible to improve. It takes time, effort and requires building blocks of emotional intelligence, but you can become increasingly empathetic, seeing the world from your client’s perspective.
When you put yourself in your client’s position and identify with their challenges, you become an extremely effective and high valued sales professional.