Some days zip by in a jiffy. Others tend to meander through a long winding space and feel slow and calm.
Most of the time we don’t know which day is going to creep up on us but it might be valuable to embrace both.
If we are a person that is full-go from the jump then the slower days feel lazy and dragging on too much. We are already looking forward to the next day.
If we are the more relaxed and slow-flowing day type of person then when stuff flies at us from all over we get flustered and chaos sets in rather quickly.
Whichever type we might lean toward we should embrace the other when it comes. Slow days can allow us to think and ponder and let things settle. Fast days can make us feel productive and active and that we are progressing our purpose.
Both days last the same amount of time. And when both days are completed it is one less day we have to enjoy in our lives.
When we focus on the present moments and become grateful for whatever the day holds for us, we start to cherish the little things and hold on to each moment as a blessing, however relaxed or chaotic they become.
Change might be the only thing consistent and when we can accept this thinking it opens up a new door of possibilities because we’ve taken the optimistic viewpoint.
Tomorrow will get here if it’s going to get here but we shouldn’t miss out on the tremendous opportunities and experiences we can have today all because it turned out to be a different day than we hoped for.
When I think of sales and interacting with people, I can’t think of a word that describes having a “client-centric” mindset more than empathy. This word embodies a mix of both emotional intelligence, social awareness, and the care factor that are all necessary to work with potential clients.
To make sure we are set on the definitions
Empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Sympathy – feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.
Sometimes these get confused so I wanted to make it crystal clear. You certainly need to be sympathetic in certain situations that call for it but empathy is more of the “state of mind” that you can relate to what people are going through and put yourself in their shoes.
Here’s an example of a situation I found myself in:
I was speaking with a potential client and we were “late-stage” with the partnership discussions and we had a follow-up call scheduled to progress this to the final steps and get started. On that call, my “champion” shared that their boss’s spouse was gravely ill and this project was on hold for a little while longer until they could get back into the office and focus on this.
I could’ve asked questions like:
Do you have any expected timeline?
What else can I do to help move the project forward
Should I follow-up in a couple of weeks to continue discussions?
All of these would have been bad ideas because it doesn’t put the client first. Sometimes there is NO timeline. Sometimes the waters are muddy and hard to navigate through. That’s not just sales, it’s life.
The empathetic approach is to recognize that there are bigger things at play here, real humans are in pain, and this (insert whatever you are selling) is not the top of mind at the moment.
It doesn’t mean it isn’t an important project or they don’t want to proceed. It’s that the timing has been shifted due to this unforeseen circumstance.
Using this logic and stepping away from the situation and looking at it from a different perspective I did a few things:
I helped my “champion” know first and foremost that I fully understand the situation and this is definitely not a good time to discuss.
I offered up myself as a resource in the comings weeks/months if they personally wanted to have conversations around process improvements away from the software
I acknowledged that there are too many unknowns to set any next steps and that I am going to put it in their hands to reach out
This approach led me to continue our great relationship, solidify myself and my company as professional and “client-focused”, and earn the right to receive a follow-up when the times were right. I built that trust through empathy.
I’ve found that taking an empathetic approach into most of my conversations has provided me the mindset to help clients even more because I’ve already convinced myself they are likely underwater on projects, are stressed about their work, and their home life isn’t an A+. Part of this gets into Emotional Intelligence and social awareness but I still think it falls under the category of empathy. If we know our business better than anyone then we should know our potential clients and all that they are going through.
With that in mind, a couple of additional thoughts to consider in your client interactions.
Be human and express you are also going through challenges as well which helps them reciprocate the empathy in a way
Re-read your emails a second time and ask yourself “what is my tone and what am I trying to accomplish by sending the email this way?”
When you hit roadblocks, don’t take it personally and try to uncover the true reasons behind it. It might not relate to anything you all have been talking about.
Remember that you can’t fake empathy, your mindset and attitude help shape those CARE muscles and if you want to get better at this then you must change your focus and outlook on the process and your interactions with every potential client.
I feel that if I was stack ranking the eight attributes that I would put empathy as higher on my list of strengths because it’s just something I’ve always done and has been in my DNA since childhood. This comes a little easier to me but it’s also allowed me to recognize the importance of it has seen its impact over the years.
I highly recommend auditing your level of empathy, both personally and professionally, and seeing where you can turn the dial in a positive direction.
More to come on empathy as I’m sure we’ll weave it into the other core attributes because it is so important but hopefully this starts giving you some thoughts about the importance of it all.