How to Empathize With a Customer: Practicing Empathy in Sales

Shawn Casemore • No Comment
Posted: September 5, 2023

When it comes to making a sale and converting your prospects over to paying customers and paying clients, you have to know how to empathize with a customer.

Here’s an example of empathy in sales:

“I am very sorry to hear that your other supplier treated you that way. That’s not right. That’s something that I’d never even heard of in this business.”

Practicing empathy in sales is critical to your ability to close a deal with your customer:

  • Keep in mind that most buyers want to connect and talk to you. Why? Because there’s a problem.
  • What are customers looking for? Solutions.
  • What do they want? For you to listen to them and understand and empathize with their problems.


(0:46)
Let’s look into how to empathize with a customer. But first, we’ll start with a quick definition.

What is Empathy in Sales?

Empathy is understanding the concerns, frustrations of your buyer.

It is not the same as sympathy. Sympathy is when I feel your emotion.

So if I was at a (heaven forbid) funeral, I would probably feel sympathetic towards the person who lost a loved one because I would feel that emotion myself. I would get upset myself.

Empathy is that I understand, but I don’t necessarily feel sympathetic towards it.

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Buyers aren’t looking for sympathy, but they do want empathy, which is really listening and understanding their situation because, as humans, we want to be listened to.

We want to be heard, right?

People that actually engage with you, why do they do that? Because they want somebody to listen to them. So we need to do that.

How to Empathize with a Customer: 3+ Ways

There are some key methods that you need to use to ensure that you’re demonstrating empathy.

Just listening and nodding does not show empathy. Let me tell you what does.

(1:50)
Let’s jump into the first step in how to empathize with a customer.

1. Build Empathy with Active Listening

The foundation that you build empathy upon is active listening.

I’ve done other videos and posts on this, so I’m not going to dive too deep here.

But I want you to think about this:  If somebody is explaining to you the challenges, the issues, maybe they’re answering the question that you’ve asked them from a sales perspective, you need to give them the time to answer.

practice active listening skills when empathizing with a customer
If they pause, if they’re silent for a moment, don’t interrupt them.

Wait.

The worst that’ll happen is they’ll say, “That’s a really good question. I hadn’t thought about it that way.”

And that’s a good thing.

(2:19)
So don’t get nervous, practice active listening. Be patient.

Remember, it’s okay if there’s a little bit of silence. If they’re thinking, don’t just stare at them. That’d be kind of weird, right? But if they’re thinking because they’ve been asked a question, a little bit of silence is, okay.

Make sure to nod or verbally acknowledge:

  • “Oh wow, that really sounds harsh.”
  • “That sounds very difficult.”
  • “I’m sorry to hear about that.”

These kinds of comments acknowledge that you’re listening, which is the foundation.

If you want to be empathetic, you have to practice active listening. If you do not, everything else will not work for you. Why? Because our buyer needs to know that we’re listening. They need to know first and foremost that we hear them in order to understand them, right?

We’re not going to demonstrate understanding if we don’t first have them believe we’re actually hearing what they say.

2. Use Your Customer’s Language to Show You’re Listening to Them

How to empathize with a customer: Demonstrate that you're listening.

(3:08)
When responding to your buyer, here’s the second thing I want you to consider:

Once you’ve listened and you’ve taken a few notes, use their language and repeat them back.

So for example, your buyer says, “We’ve really got some big budget constraints this year happening. So that’s something, Sean, that you should be aware of.”

I would say something like, “Okay, I understand. So you have some budget concerns this year, so definitely we have to make sure we show you a return on your investment if you were to proceed with our product, would that be true? Right?”

So I’m taking the customer’s language; I’m repeating it back.

Now, in my case, I did a little bit of a twist and I moved it towards a conversion statement, right? I’m trying to say, oh, so you’re going to proceed with us. Now, that’s a little bit, maybe a little more advanced, but the point I’m trying to make is when they share information with you, make note of it mentally.

Or even better, I still write notes in a book that I carry with me because I want to use that language in our discussion or in my proposal or quotes. Anything like that, because that language suggests to the buyer that you’re listening.

3. Create a Connection That Links Your Buyer to Your Product or Service

How to empathize with a customer? Connect your buyer to your product.(4:09)
So we’ve talked in the last tip about repeating back the language of your buyer. The other thing you’ve got to be able to do is make connections.

Make connections for your buyer when it comes to the connection between where they’re at today and where they will be if they engage with you, your product or service.

Another phrase that’s been put around this is painting a picture. What we want to do is make sure the buyer can see themselves using our product or service.

I’ll give you a simple example of this.

When I used to sell cars back in my early to mid twenties, what tended to happen was somebody would come into the dealership interested in a car.

Once they had an idea of what kind of car they liked, we would try and get them in the car, and I would purposely have them sit in the car, put the window down, and I would say, “Okay, so how does that feel?”

There’s an emotional question. They’d tell me, I’d practice active listening. “Okay, alright, so you’re telling me it’s pretty comfortable, right?” (There’s active listening.)

And then I would simply make the connection for them or paint the picture of the future state. I’d say, “Well, in a car like this, you’d be getting twice as good gas mileage than in that truck you’re driving right now.”

You’ve got to make connections for your buyer between where they are today and where they could be.

And when you do this, you’re demonstrating empathy. Why? Because you’re saying, “I heard you. This is a concern for you, and my solution’s going to fix that.”

By making these connections, they’ll help you paint the pictures for your buyer as to what will it look like if they purchase your product or service. And as a result, you’re showing that you’ve listened, you’ve understood, and you care. And that is empathy.

(5:58)
I’ve got another tip for you to hold onto:

Practicing Empathy Bonus Tip: Don’t Interrupt or Talk Over Your Buyer! (Do This Instead)

So, I tend to get amped up, eager, excited. What tends to happen, especially in a meeting with a buyer, even going back to those early days when I was selling cars, is I can tend to talk over a buyer sometimes.

So we’re having a good conversation and what tends to happen is they might share something and they’ll keep talking and I’ll want to mention that point because it’s an important point that they mentioned, but I think I’ll forget about it if I don’t say it. And I accidentally, oh my gosh, I talk over the buyer.

How to empathize with a customer? Never, ever, ever talk over your buyer. Never.

(6:49)
Instead, use the strategy that I started using: I started taking notes.

take notes during sales conversations to avoid interrupting

If they’re talking, I’ll just make bullet points on a piece of paper and when they’re done, I’ll say, “You raised a few good points. I just want to revisit for a moment. You said X, right?” And I can go back.

By making notes, I was able to minimize that tendency.

I don’t know anybody that likes to be interrupted. So we don’t want to interrupt people no matter how excited we are, no matter how important the point is that they made that we don’t want to lose.

Make some notes for yourself. Don’t talk over the buyer.

Alright? If you’d enjoyed this content, make sure you check out this next video on YouTube where I give you even more tips and skills to be a high performing sales professional.

Get Your Sales Action Planner & Practice How to Empathize With a Customer

I encourage you to check out what I call my free 30-Day Sales Action Planner. It’s organized in a way that you can actually set up your goals, your targets for the next 30 days, and it prompts you through planning to achieve those targets.

Click the link and download it in PDF form, so you can fill it in electronically or print it off and write on it. Whatever you prefer to do, it’s complimentary. It’s my gift to you.

Download your 30-Day Sales Action Planner and put it to work today!

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© Shawn Casemore 2023. All Rights Reserved.

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