Why Empathy is Critical for Sales Calls and How to Develop It

John Greene


12 min

Inside this article:

Why Empathy is a Critical Sales Skill

How to Develop More Empathy on Sales Calls

Empathy is the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, and imagine the world through their eyes.

It’s not something you hear at a lot of sales meetings…

So, why is it important?

Why Empathy is a Critical Sales Skill

When do sales occur?

Sales occur when a prospect is facing a challenge or struggle, or has a want or need... and they believe that you can help.

In other words, there's a connection between your prospect's situation and you.

That's the power of empathy.

The deeper your understanding of your prospect's condition, the greater your ability to build a relationship with them, and influence them in a positive way.

Can empathy be learned? Or is it something you’re either born with or not? Here at PhoneBurner, we believe the former. And today, we’ll lay out a process for you to start showing more empathy on your sales calls.

How to Develop More Empathy on Sales Calls

Ask the right questions

You can't put yourself in someone's shoes without knowing their story. Your pitch needs to include questions geared toward uncovering your prospect's situation, asked in a way that positions you as someone trying to help.

What do you need to know to be able to help your prospect?

Picture yourself in their position

Asking questions is not enough. That's because empathy occurs on an emotional level, not on a logical one. So once you have an idea of the situation your prospect is in, ask yourself...

  •     What emotions are this person experiencing right now?
  •     What do those emotions feel like if I experience them?
  •     Have I ever been in a similar situation? How did I feel?

Maybe your prospect is feeling afraid about spending money on your product or service, because they’ve spent money on similar products that didn’t work.

When you can connect and even feel this fear yourself, you can understand your prospect on a deeper level, better work through the objection, and earn their trust. You might even have a story of yourself, or another client, that was in a similar situation.

Be present

Instead of pushing an agenda or trying to push a product that your prospect might not need, take time to be present in the moment. This present focus is key in having empathy.

How can you be more present on sales calls?

  •     Listen to what they’re saying and don’t come into the call with assumptions
  •     Ask questions and focus on understanding their perspective
  •     Be conscious of their emotions as well as your own
  •     Don’t be dependent on the outcome – allow yourself to accept whatever happens
  •     Be open-minded – if your product isn’t the right fit for their problem, be honest about it
  •     Don’t multitask while on the call

Make empathy a habit

Empathy is not something that’s easily dialed up and down. If you’re not empathetic in your daily life, you’ll have trouble being empathetic on sales calls.

To make empathy a habit, you can start by following the above with people you talk to throughout the day.

Here are some other ways to build your capacity for empathy:

  • Practice being vulnerable. Many of us go through life with masks, afraid to show our true selves. But in order to really connect and show empathy, you need to take off the mask and be vulnerable with people.
  • Support a cause. Whether you support a cause financially or with your time and effort, you're exercising empathy. Find a cause or condition you sympathize with, and help.
  • Talk to strangers. Increased empathy comes by interacting with more people and understanding the situations they face.
  • Get out of your comfort zone and try new things. When you expose yourself to different people, places, and lifestyles, you start to eliminate the differences between your life and others’, which makes it easier to relate and feel others’ emotions.

Empathy is all too often overlooked when it comes to sales. But if you can develop and show more empathy, it can help you improve your numbers, make better connections, and build strong relationships with your customers.

How has empathy helped you have more success with sales calls? Let us know in the comments below!

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