Let's talk about empathy

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Along with “value,” I believe that “empathy" is one of the most overused, and most misunderstood, words in selling.

To have empathy for your buyers, and the situation or challenges they face, it’s not enough to “put yourself in their shoes” and feel what they feel.

Effective empathy is not about knowing HOW someone feels. It’s about understanding WHY they feel the way they do.

You must understand their situation and their perspective. You have to understand the context of their challenges.

Acquiring the necessary understanding doesn’t come from reading a persona generated by marketing.

It requires a dialog with your buyer(s). It requires asking insightful questions. Most importantly, it requires that you listen slowly and carefully to their answers.

Empathy is a listening skill. To acquire a true understanding requires open-minded listening. Listening without judgment.

Without this understanding, it’s impossible to truly grasp the buyer’s challenges from their perspective.

I see too many sellers assume that having read a personal description of their buyers, they are now empathetic to their situation.

They’re not.

Feeling without understanding is sympathy.

It may seem like a small difference, but buyers don't want your sympathy.

They want your understanding.

And they can tell the difference.