Empathy in Sales: How to Sell with Heart and Mind

Are you tired of pushy salespeople who seem to care only about closing the deal and not about your needs and emotions? Do you want to create meaningful connections with your clients and build long-term relationships that lead to loyalty and repeat business? If so, you need to master the art of empathy – (and perspective-taking) in sales.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. In sales, empathy means putting yourself in your clients’ shoes, understanding their needs and wants, and addressing their concerns with sincerity and care. When you sell with empathy, you not only make more sales, but you also create a positive reputation for yourself and make you and your client feel good.

In this article, we will explore the power of empathy in sales and provide you with practical tips and strategies to incorporate empathy into your sales conversations. From building rapport to active listening to handling sales objections, we will show you how to sell with heart and mind.

Empathy in Sales

Why Empathy Matters in Sales

Before we dive into the how-to of empathy in sales, let’s first understand why empathy matters. Empathy is a fundamental human trait that allows us to connect with others, build trust, and form meaningful relationships. In sales, empathy is the key to building rapport with your clients, understanding their needs and motivations, and providing them with personalized solutions that meet their unique requirements.

When you approach sales with empathy, you create a safe and comfortable environment, we call it our Serene Garden, where your clients feel human, heard and understood. They feel like they can take off their masks, which leads to a deeper conversation, less resistance, and more positive outcomes. Clients who feel that you care about their needs are more likely to buy from you, refer you to others, and remain loyal.

How to Bring Empathy into Your Sales Conversations

Now that you know why empathy matters, let’s explore how to bring empathy into your sales process. Below are some practical tips and strategies to help you sell with empathy and build stronger relationships with your clients.

Bring More of You to Your Sales

Transparency, vulnerability, authenticity, empathy . . . All these words, at their essence, have a common denominator: truth and sincerity. What people want now more than ever is the truth.

They don’t want a fake version of you, they don’t want a cookie-cutter template approach, they don’t want to be sold to via a robotic-sounding script, and they surely don’t want your phony sympathy.

What they really want is more of you, the real you.

“How do I bring more of me to my sales, Sarah?” I don’t have all the answers, because only you can be more of you. But here are some suggestions:

1. Stop comparing

First and foremost, you need to stop comparing yourself to everyone else. “Hah! Easier said than done!” I know. I still catch myself mindlessly scrolling through LinkedIn, envious of other people’s inspiring posts; livestreams, which I can never get myself to do; and of course, my biggest procrastination: other people’s launches. But whenever I do, I catch myself much faster than I did a few years ago, and I remind myself that this person is not me. This person has a different personality, different way to recharge their energy, different definition of success, different business model, etc. Comparing yourself with other entrepreneurs is only fruitful when you classify it as research and do it for a good reason, like, for example, when you’re researching prices.

2. Ditch the script

There are thousands of templates and sales scripts out there. The entrepreneurs who provide them (at least most of them) have good intentions. They are trying to help you. The problem is, as we’ve seen in Emily’s story, it’s not really helping! It’s the same old stuff about finding your client’s pain points and then giving them the magic solution to ease their pain. There’s empathy in that. It’s called sympathy! So ditch that script right now. People are sick of these predictable e-mail series that have been used for decades now. Instead, keep reading in order to give yourself the permission to bring more of you to your sales.

Click below to learn about the Gentle Sales Bundle, which includes the full audio of the Gentle Sales Meditation. 

Empathy in Sales, Sales Bundle

3. Have your values top of mind

If you haven’t gone through the exercise of choosing your top five core values in a while (or never), I highly recommend revisiting it. Here’s a free online version to find out your values. Knowing your actual core values has merit on both personal and professional levels. And in sales, it will really help you with decision-making.

4. Slow down the sale

In order to have an authentic experience with the real you, we need to slow down—way down. “I’ve been on your mailing list for six months now.” I hear that all the time. Sometimes they’ll say a year. Trust isn’t built overnight. In order to really get to know you in this online world, you need to give people more time. It’s the exception to the rule that someone hears you on a podcast and immediately wants to hire you. And it’s rare that someone buys your signature program after just going through a few onboarding emails. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t mention it, I think you should, but you shouldn’t feel disappointed if they don’t buy immediately. If we want people to make empowered buying decisions, then we need to allow them more time. The same goes for sales conversations. If your prospect needs time to think about it, then give them that time. Not endless amounts of time, because that wouldn’t be fair to you, but for example twentyfour or forty-eight hours. There’s so much more spaciousness when we don’t apply the pressure of time.

5. Go woo

I truly believe that any kind of grounding practice helps your confidence with sales. A regular grounding practice will help your body posture and your confidence. Whether it is yoga, prayer, breath work, chakra work, visualization, or meditation doesn’t matter. All of these techniques help you anchor yourself and deepen your connection with Mother Earth. So if woo-woo is your jam, I say bring more of that to your sales. Who says you can’t start your sales conversation with three deep breaths in order to be in the present moment and get rid of any money-related stress?

Active Listening

Active listening is a crucial aspect of empathy in sales. When you listen actively, you show your clients that you value their opinions and understand their concerns. Here are some tips for active listening:

  • Focus on your clients and not about what you’re going to ask next.
  • Ask open-ended questions to encourage your client to share more.
  • Paraphrase your client’s statements to show that you understand.
  • Use nonverbal cues, such as nodding and eye contact, to show that you are engaged.
  • Avoid interrupting or jumping to conclusions.

Get into Your People’s Heads

When you understand your client’s needs, you can provide them with solutions that meet their unique requirements. Here are some ways to understand your client’s needs:

  • Ask questions to uncover your client’s struggles and goals.
  • Use active listening to gather information about your client’s situation.
  • Put yourself in your client’s shoes and imagine their perspective.
  • Use empathy statements, such as “I can imagine how frustrating that must be for you.”

Perspective-Taking vs. Empathy

Psychologists report data that shows that empathy and perspective-taking require distinct neural circuits in the brain. Different brain regions can be distinguished for empathy for negative emotions, empathy for positive emotions, and Theory of Mind, the expert term for perspective taking.

While both are crucial, perspective-taking is just as relevant in sales because it has to do with the capacity to reason and represent others’ intentions, goals, and motives. As the seller, I am motivated to understand my buyer’s mental state and intentions, which allows me to make predictions about their actions, and also to influence these actions.

For example: I’m on a call with a potential client who tells me that she wants to up-level her business, but right now she’s really struggling, charging minimum rates and working long hours. I can hear it in her voice that she’s frustrated and sad, but I also hear some kind of resignation at not knowing how to change her situation. In this case, I first show empathy: “Been there, done that, and I hear your pain.” But then I switch over to perspective-taking, gently pointing out incorrect view on the matter and presenting a new perspective in an abstract manner. I use my empathy and perspective-taking not to just come up with a completely unrealistic “magic wand” scenario, but to help her to step out of her own false belief bubble and draw a new scenario.

If I only show empathy, I might submerge my own interests and not get the sale. So perspective-taking meets somewhere in the middle to really create win-win situations.

Here’s a list of the main differences between empathy and perspective-taking:

  • Empathy: feelings, sharing someone’s emotional state, heart
  • Perspective-taking: thoughts, taking someone’s perspective, mind
  • The bottom line is that both perspective-taking and empathy are required in Humane Selling. Empathy will help you get into people’s hearts, and perspective-taking gets you into people’s heads

Who’s Your People’s Antihero?

While we’re in people’s heads, let’s dig around a bit longer. Actually, that sounds a bit gross, but you know what I mean. What we’re trying to get to is old memories or stories that your clients have stored in their mind somewhere. And I’m not talking about old romances, but experiences that have to do with the problem they are trying to solve. Because most people come to you, with some kind of baggage. They have most likely tried other solutions that either just didn’t work or, worse, really left them disgusted and disillusioned.

In the example of Humane Marketing, it’s “Bro” or “Hype Marketing.” That’s my people’s antihero. They are sick and tired of marketers who tell them to send out four cart-closing emails, launch a huge Facebook Ads campaign, or build a manipulative funnel in ClickFunnels.

  • If you are a wellness coach, your people’s antihero is probably the “quick results, six pack in six weeks” type of scam. 
  • If you are a restaurant owner, your ideal client’s memory is full of bad dining experiences. If you are a writing coach, your people may have come across someone that promised them they’ll have a book written in two months. 
  • If you are a web designer, your people may come to you with a half-done website and a story in their head that “all web designers are crooks.” 
  • If you are a car salesman . . . You get the picture. 🙂

Why is it so key to have spent some time reflecting on this? Because it helps you with perspective-taking—and even empathy—when you know what your people have tried before without success and are frustrated or angry about. Because often they don’t tell you these stories, which in their eyes feel like failures. But if you mention that other clients have come to you for these exact reasons, they feel an immediate alignment with you and your values.

Providing Personalized Solutions

Providing personalized solutions is the ultimate goal of empathy in sales. When you provide personalized solutions, you show your clients that you care about their needs and are willing to go the extra mile to help them. Here are some tips for providing personalized solutions:

  • Tailor your solution to your client’s specific needs and goals.
  • Offer options and alternatives to give your client choices.
  • Explain how your solution meets your client’s needs and solves their problems.
  • Use stories and examples to illustrate how your solution has helped others in similar situations.
  • Follow up after the sale to ensure that your client is satisfied and address any concerns they may have.

Handling Sales Objections

Handling objections is a common challenge in sales, but with empathy, you can turn objections into opportunities. When you handle objections with empathy, you show your client that you understand their concerns and are committed to finding a solution that works for them. Here are some tips for handling objections with empathy:

  • Listen to your client’s objection and acknowledge their concern.
  • Ask questions to clarify their objection and understand their perspective.
  • Offer a solution that addresses their objection and meets their needs.
  • Use empathy statements, such as “I can understand.”
  • Follow up after the objection is resolved to ensure that your client is satisfied.

Read this post about ‘How to Handle Objections in Sales Calls – the Human(e) Way

Click below to learn about the Gentle Sales Bundle, which includes the full audio of the Gentle Sales Meditation. 

Empathy in Sales, Sales Bundle

Using Empathy in Gentle Sales Conversations

Empathy in sales conversations is about using language that demonstrates your understanding of your client’s needs and emotions. Here are some ways to use empathy in gentle sales conversations:

  • Use “you” language to focus on your client’s needs and concerns.
  • Use empathy statements, such as “I can see how that would be frustrating for you.”
  • Use positive language to create a sense of optimism and possibility.
  • Use stories and examples to illustrate how your solution has helped others in similar situations.
  • Avoid using jargon or technical language that your client may not understand (terms that you use frequently, but that might scare your client away)..

Conclusion: Empathy in Sales – The Key to Building Trust and Relationships

By putting yourself in your client’s shoes and understanding their unique needs and concerns, you can build trust and rapport, offer personalized solutions, and ultimately sell more.

In this article, we’ve explored the importance of empathy in sales, from tailoring your solutions to your customer’s needs, handling objections with care to using empathy in your gentle sales conversations and understanding your client’s anti-hero. By following these tips and practicing empathy in your personal and professional life, you will sell more and with more ease.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy the following:

  • Blog post: Empathy in Marketing: This article discusses how to incorporate empathy into marketing strategies, especially for highly sensitive people (HSPs). It contrasts traditional marketing tactics with empathetic approaches and explores ways to authentically connect with clients
  • Blog post: How to Handle Objections in Sales Calls: This post offers guidance on managing client objections in sales conversations. It highlights the importance of empathetic listening, understanding client concerns, and responding in a way that respects their needs while aligning with ethical marketing principles. The article aims to help navigate objections effectively without resorting to aggressive sales tactics.
  • Blog post: Humane Marketing Words We Love: This blog post discusses the power of language in marketing. It emphasizes using words that resonate with values of empathy, kindness, and integrity. The post encourages embracing words that foster a sense of community, nurture relationships, and reflect authenticity and passion in business practices.
  • Blog post: What’s a Good Synonym for ‘Pain Points’? This post suggests a different way and word to think about pain points.
  • Blog post: How to Find Your Authentic Self: This article explores the journey of discovering one’s true self in the entrepreneurial world. It stresses the importance of self-awareness and alignment with personal values for authentic and effective business practices.
  • Blog post: What Makes People Buy?: This blog post examines the psychological and emotional factors that influence consumer purchasing decisions. It delves into the role of empathy, storytelling, and connection in motivating people to buy, moving beyond traditional sales tactics.
  • Book: Selling Like We’re Human: This is the book “Selling Like We’re Human” by Sarah Santacroce. The book focuses on a humane approach to sales, aligning selling practices with empathy, authenticity, and respect for the client.
  • Podcast episode: Clear Your Own Sales Objections: This podcast episode addresses the internal objections and doubts that entrepreneurs often face in sales. It offers insights and strategies to overcome these mental barriers and engage in sales with confidence and authenticity.
  • Podcast episode: Selling is Human: This podcast episode explores the human aspects of selling. It discusses how understanding human behavior and emotions can enhance sales effectiveness, advocating for a more personal and empathetic approach to sales interactions.

Other Resources You Might Enjoy

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The 7Ps of Humane Marketing

Get the Fill In the Blank One-Page Marketing Plan

Humane Marketing 7ps

Your contact information is safe, and will not be used in ways
other than stated on this page.