Monday, January 28, 2013

Embrace Both Empathy & Aggressiveness

Being over-aggressive has led to the term "pushy salesperson." Oftentimes, just the word "salesperson" includes the connotation "pushy." But if a salesperson isn't aggressive enough, they don't make the sale. What to do? The key is to combine empathy with aggressiveness.

Let's define these terms first. Empathy is caring about what the customer does, how they're trying to do it, and what hurdles they're facing. Empathy is not soft; it's sharing the feelings of your client without letting emotions dictate your actions. Empathy is different from sympathy in that even though you may be able to share their feelings to the same depth, you allow your intellect to dictate your actions. This allows you to make clear-minded decisions that are in your clients' best interest. Aggressiveness is continually trying to advance the account to a sale. Aggressiveness is not harsh; it's simply your persistence in driving to close the sale.

Empathy ...
* Makes the client feel like you're working to their agenda
* Makes the client like you personally
* Earns you the right to ask difficult questions
* May get you off the path to closing the sale if you use it too much. You'll never get to closing on the sale if you're overly empathetic.

Aggressiveness ...
* Advances the discussion towards a close
* Results in fewer calls to advance the account to a close
* Keeps the call valuable to the client (they have a busy schedule, too!)
* Helps you gain a better understanding of what's needed to close the sale

How To Combine Empathy With Aggressiveness

Empathy and aggressiveness should be integrated throughout each call. You should always be doing both. The more aggressive you become, the more empathetic you need to be. Both should be applied as overarching principles throughout the call, such as combining emotional outcomes (empathy) with business outcomes (aggressiveness). Example: You call a prospect and they have a meeting in five minutes. Ask, "When can I call you back?" and make sure you get a specific time and date.

The mix will be dictated by the situation. Aggressiveness should be constant throughout the call to drive towards closing. The amount of necessary empathy may be dictated by the cues or by your amount of aggressiveness. Example: During a phone call, the client sounds disconnected, and you hear typing in the background. You could stop and ask if this is a good time or, "Should we reschedule another time that would be better?"

The Erie Sales Club is a joint effort of four leading local businesses: Jameson Publishing, Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services, VertMarkets, and Howland Peterson Consulting.