Can You Enthusiastically Pitch and
Empathetically Listen at the Same Time?
The old adage of people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care is still very much alive and well in selling today.
Care is demonstrated by empathy, and empathy is shown through your ability to help your customer get new insight into their challenges in a way that gives them the independence to find their own answers, irrespective of your own personal goals. Doing so helps you increase your chances of being viewed as a business equal.
You want to earn a privileged position and get an insider's track on your customer's business. Sales people are by nature and reputation outsiders. So there's a lot of work to try to level the playing field.
Being Dr. feel Good won't put you on the fast track of trust. You have to be good at balancing being personal and non-personal at the same time. Be personal in learning about your customer's business, and at the same time detach yourself personally so you don't have a conflict of interest with objectivity.
If you want to earn the privilege to be a trusted business equal you have to first extend trust and outwardly treat your customer as an equal. No patronizing or kowtowing. No inappropriate over-benevolence where you want to help so much you come across like a needy parent who suffocates their children with love for their own needs. No one should be friendlier than they need to be. When one crosses this thin line one's self-interest comes into question.
The more you sell with passion and vigor the more you unlevel the fragile balance of equality and trust. No one likes to do business with an unequal. When winning is more important to you than the customer, you know you have crossed the line.
Authentic, trusting relationships only happen among those who regard each other as equals. Grant customers the trust, freedom and independence to think for themselves, be who they are, and figure out what is best for them. This requires unconditional respect for ourselves and our customers. That's difficult for most conventional sales people who have fragile egos, lack emotional intelligence and are always thinking about their self-interest.
"When there is complete trust the absence of trust is an abstract and irrelevant proposition," says Paul Ferrini. When trust is lacking often customers want some type of guarantee, literally or figuratively. When trust is present the opposite happens.
Sales people know they operate outside of the realm of the public's trust, yet they make very little effort to stem the tide. Customers know that sales people are prone to protect their interest in their sphere of influence. This is why trust is so critical. If you have a strong self-view, you'll always be vulnerable to being viewed with suspicion.
A mind that is learning and is seeking to understand is an innocent mind. A mind that is trying to sway opinion is vulnerable to losing trust. So take the position of learning. Cultivate the unusual passion of the pure act of selling; understanding for itself. Once your motives go beyond that your credibility is a question.
Sales people make a big mistake by selling with the expectation of trust being present and they get blindsided when it isn't forthcoming. They position their offering as a foregone conclusion (an accepted truth) with no attempt to gain trust or have an open dialogue. Customers usually won't trust you until you show them you're worthy of their trust and respect.
Assume no trust. Complacency is the enemy of trust. Remember, one of the first impressions they'll make of you is your trustworthiness. These impressions and decisions they make about you are usually feelings and gut responses that are below the surface, and have more to do with who you are, as opposed to what you say, what you do and what product you represent.