To Sell More - Empathize More!


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Salespeople who understand the buyer more, sell more. That is clear to see from our benchmarking data, as well as our direct experience. But an intellectual understanding of the buying decision is no longer enough. As this whitepaper shows; 'It is not just how much you know, but how much you care that sells'.

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To Sell More - Empathize More!

  1. 1. Retail Price: $9.99Salespeople Need To Better Understand The Buyer Because:To Sell More - Empathize More! “…translate Salespeople who understand the buyer more, sell more. That is clear to see from our benchmarking data, as well as our buyer direct experience. But an intellectual understanding of the understanding buying decision is no longer enough. into buyer empathy…” Salespeople who translate buyer understanding into buyer empathy enjoy the greatest sales success. As this whitepaper shows; ‘It is not just how much you know, but how much you care that sells’.
  2. 2. Buyers: To Know ‘Em Is To Love ‘EmBuyers – ‘to know em is to love em’, or more to the point; ‘to knowthem is to sell to them’. That is to say a better understanding of howbuying decisions are made, as well as of those who make them cansignificantly boost closing success.However, simply knowing the buyer is not enough. The challenge forsellers is not just to know more about the buyers; role, background,or their place in the organizational hierarchy. To be really effectiveseller must go one step further.An intellectual understanding of the buying decision is not enough. Tofully appreciate the buyers motivations, challenges and concernsrequires that the seller steps into the buyers shoes. In modern sellingit is not just how much you know, but how much you care thatmatters.Empathy Sells “Sellers must fully appreciateSellers dont just need to develop their level of buyer understanding,but their level of buyer empathy too. Only then can the seller the complexityappreciate the full complexity of modern buying and by extension the of modernreal opportunities and challenges they face in getting the sale. buying…”Now, you may be thinking ‘we have gone soft’. You may be thinkingthat buyer empathy is ‘pie in the sky’ – a kind of sales Pollyanna. Restassured however - we havent ‘gone soft’. Buyer empathy issomething that can have a real impact on sales success. In shortempathy sells!P a g e |2© The ASG Group 2011
  3. 3. The Empathic EdgeEmpathy is an advanced level of buyer knowledge and understanding.It helps sellers to sell more, but that is not all. Salespeople who canunderstand and relate to what the buyer is thinking and indeed feelinghave several advantages:They enjoy preferential status among buyers. Sellers who take the “It is thetime to understand what the buyer wants and show they care about antidote toit, are naturally favoured among buyers. The result is deeper seller anxietyrelationships, with buyers being more likely to open up and to engage.It is also key to developing a champion within the buying organization. and frustration”They can gauge the buyers reaction to their pitch, or proposal evenwhen the buyer says little. That allows them to intelligently adjusttheir approach as required.They can instinctively spot early warning signals and sense where thebuyer is facing internal resistance. That is because they have a realappreciation of the buyers challenges in navigating their internalbuying requirements and getting the purchase sanctioned.They can more effectively alleviate the buyers concerns, addresstheir challenges, and allay their fears. They can help the buyer toachieve his/her goals – so as to achieve their own.They face fewer shocks and surprises. A full understanding andappreciation of the complexity of the buying decision enables theseller to correctly identify and directly address obstacles to getting thesale. It is typically associated with better forecast accuracy, improvedpre-qualification and all round better opportunity management. Itgenerally means improved account management and development aswell.P a g e |3© The ASG Group 2011
  4. 4. They experience less stress. A greater appreciation and understandingof the buyer makes selling easier. It is the antidote to increased selleranxiety and frustration. For example:In the event of a stalled buying decision, the seller can see behindbuyer intransigence to the real impediments to a decision being made.Rather than getting irritable with the vacillating buyer, the seller canappreciate the risk sensitivity of the buyer and directly address thoserisks.These are just some of the many ways by which a switch from enmityto empathy can make sellers more effective.The Widening Gap Between Buyers and SellersAs a seller developing empathy with the buyer can be a challenge. Therise of the competitive tender (and more bureaucratise buying ingeneral) has driven a wedge between buyers and sellers. It effectivelymeans that both sides are increasingly involved in a ‘them’ and ‘us’stand-off. “EmotionalThe fact that more buying decisions are being made behind closed intelligence isdoors, means that salespeople are more likely to be perplexed, even essential to thefrustrated by the behaviour of the professional buyer. salesperson…”Viewing procurement as an impediment to the sale, salespeople oftenstruggle to understand what motivates buyers, particularly thebureaucratic ones. However, those salespeople who develop theirlevel of understanding and indeed empathy with the modern arecertain to enjoy greater success.P a g e |4© The ASG Group 2011
  5. 5. Steps To Developing Buyer EmpathyBeing able to understand and identify with the buyer - what he or sheis thinking and feeling is a form of emotional intelligence that isessential to the salesperson doing his or her job effectively.Of course, some salespeople are naturally better at empathising withbuyers (and people generally for that matter). Yet empathy issomething that, as salespeople, we all can and should develop.There are 5 ways in which sellers can develop their level ofbuyer empathy and boost sales success: 1. Learn About Buying 2. Pay Attention To What The Buyer Is Thinking & Feeling 3. Demonstrate A Genuine Desire To Help 4. Step Into The Buyers Shoes 5. Blur The Line Between Buyer & Seller.Lets examine each of these in turn.1. Learn About Buying‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood’ is one ofCoveys ‘Seven Secrets Of Highly Effective Managers’. Itcertainly applies to selling.To understand and empathize with the buyer, sellers mustknow the framework within which the buyer is operating. Thatincludes; steps of the buying decision, the information requirements,the people involved, the sign-off level, and so on.Most sellers know a lot more about selling, than they do about buying.They will readily admit to gaps in their knowledge of the steps in thebuying decision, or the buying criteria in respect of key opportunitiesbeing pursued.P a g e |5© The ASG Group 2011
  6. 6. Sellers should spend more time getting to understand buying. Inparticular, the key dimensions of buying rules and risks that causesmuch seller frustration. They shouldnt just read sales books, butbooks on buying too. “Sellers should spend more2. Pay Attention To What The Buyer Is Thinking & Feeling. time getting to understandThe seller needs to know what the buyer is thinking and feeling.More important still they need to show that they care about what the buying.”buyer thinks and feels.Buyers dont wear their emotions on their sleeves; indeed they mayeven deny that there is any emotional element to their decisions.After all they are rational economic buyers!The first step for the buyer is to pay moreattention to the buyer, more specifically topay attention to their words, thoughts andactions. That is something that our slidedecks, sales process and sales proposalwont do for us however.There is typically little in the way ofemotional intelligence in the fact-findsused by sellers in their engagements withbuyers, or the CRM systems used to recordprospect information. These tend to focuson the detail (e.g. company information,pre-qualification criterion, needs analysis,etc.), rather than the context (e.g. themotivations, aspirations, aversions, etc.) ofthe buyer.P a g e |6© The ASG Group 2011
  7. 7. That means they dont prompt the seller to answer more searchingquestions such as: What is the buyer really thinking? How does the buyer really feel about this? How will this make the buyer look to others? What pressures/challenges does the buyer face? What political/cultural issues confront the buyer? What concerns does the buyer have? What might the buyer be reluctant to say? What hopes/aspirations does the buyer have and how does the purchase impact on them? How does the buyer imagine the future of his team/department/business?Buyers can be slow to open up to sellers and confess what they arethinking. The seller must create an atmosphere of trust where thebuyer is willing to say what he/she is really thinking. “Buyers believe that most3. Demonstrate A Genuine Desire To Help salespeople are only interestedBuyers need to feel that sellers understand and care about what isimportant to them. This is not to be taken for granted however; as in the sale.”buyers believe that most salespeople are only interested in the sale.The salesperson must demonstrate their concern for the buyer andexpress it in a genuine desire to help. The degree to which thesalesperson cares is something that the buyer is likely to judge fromeven the initial encounter. It is an assessment that is oftensubconscious, but nonetheless can determine the future tone of anyrelationship.Now, there are many techniques to fast-track rapport building and tofane empathy, but unless you are a good actor, we dont recommendthem. Buyers quickly see through false sincerity. Being yourself andbeing genuinely interested is all that is required.P a g e |7© The ASG Group 2011
  8. 8. Many traditional sales techniques are an impediment to a greatercloseness between buyer and seller. For example, nothing sends aclearer signal to the buyer that you are just interested in getting the “Ask yourself:sale than clumsy or premature attempts at closing. For this reasonshowing you care requires: How would I Slowing down to the pace of the buyer feel, think of act Less talking and more listening if I was the More active engagement with the buyer The joint exploration of needs and solutions buyer?” A focus on buying process, rather than sales process Being prepared to accept that your solution may not suit everybody.4. Step Into The Buyer’s ShoesBuyers are not robots. Key to success in selling is the abilityof the sales person and by extension his or her propositionto resonate with the buyer on an emotional level – that isthe level of the buyers; hopes, fears and so on. But, howcan you know what the buyer is thinking and feeling?Sellers who are keen to empathize with buyers ask thequestion ‘how would I feel, think, or act if I was the buyerin this situation?’ They ask a similar question of colleagueswho share the same job responsibilities, or functionalbackground of the buyer.5. Blur The Line Between Buyer & SellerSellers must talk about the buyers opportunities and challenges as ifthey were their own. They must choose their language carefully,avoiding language that reinforces a ‘them and us’, or ‘you and I’,division. The seller must demonstrate that they own the buyer’sproblem, that their success and that of the buyer are intertwined.P a g e |8© The ASG Group 2011
  9. 9. Focusing on developing a shared vision of the future – of what successwill look like is key to intertwining buyer and seller. This is effectivelywhat needs analysis and solution definition is about. However, take alook at a typical sales proposal and you will likely find that it fallsconsiderably short of delivering a shared vision of future success.Your Sales Gauge: Your Level Of Buyer EmpathyTake the Buyer Empathy Test below. Use it to gauge how attuned youare to the buyer and the impact that address this issue could have onyour sales success. Tick  If ‘Yes’  I understand what it must be like to be a professional buyer, including the responsibilities, challenges and targets. Tick  If ‘Yes’  I understand the requirements of getting the purchase sanctioned and the internal demands that it places on the buyer. Tick  If ‘Yes’  I dont get frustrated by the buyers rules and procedures viewing them as a necessary element of modern buying. Tick  If ‘Yes’  I understand the mantra for todays buyers is ‘more for less’ and that pushing supplier costs down is one of the buyers main responsibilities.P a g e |9© The ASG Group 2011
  10. 10. Tick  If ‘Yes’  I can appreciate that buyers are slow to accept what salespeople have to say. They are right to be cautious and even cynical about vendor promises. Tick  If ‘Yes’  I understand that the buyer often faces hidden complexities in making the decision (e.g. conflicting priorities, competing projects and internal politics). Tick  If ‘Yes’  I am highly perceptive and can tell what the buyer is thinking, even if he/she does not say much. Tick  If ‘Yes’  I think about how the purchase decision will impact on the buyer and his, or her success. Tick  If ‘Yes’  Buyers regularly open up and share their motivations and fears with me. They trust me. Tick  If ‘Yes’  Buyers clearly see me as having their best interests at heart. They know that I care about what is important to them.What Should You Do Next?Use the checklist above to decide what you want to do next. Inparticular, see how many items were you able to tick Yes.P a g e | 10© The ASG Group 2011
  11. 11. If you ticked most, or all of them then you have the buyers empathyunder control. So, you might like to navigate to some other aspect ofthe Opportunities Stage, or elsewhere in the sales process.If not, this area could be limiting your sales success. You can startaddressing it by tackling those items in the checklist that you couldnot tick. For each make a note of specific actions you can take – youwill find space to write earlier in this paper.The Science Behind This PaperThese insights and tools are based on extensive research under 3headings:1. Buyer Research – our ground-breaking research into how modern buying decisions are made and the implications for sellers.2. Best Practice Research – Over 1 million pages of best practice sales case studies, books and research.3. Common Practice Research – Our peer comparison benchmark of 1,000s of your competitors and peers.The Sales Engine® and SellerNav are trademarks of The ASG Group.The entire contents of this document are copyright of The ASG Groupand cannot be reproduced in any format without written permission.Would you like help in tackling your sales challenges? Contact us at:enquiries@theASGgroup.comwww.theASGgroup.comP a g e | 11© The ASG Group 2011