The Two Essentials of Successful Selling
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When a high-powered salesman friend outlined his philosophy of successful selling for me more than 30 years ago, I wasn’t entirely convinced. “You need two things,” he said. “First, you need persistence, and that’s easy. Second, and most important, you need empathy, and that’s really difficult. You’ve got to be out there in people’s faces, telling your story, but you must also understand what your customer wants and speak to that need. If either persistence or empathy is lacking, you won’t make the sale.”
I agreed immediately with his first requirement, persistence. And I surely saw my friend himself as tenacious–almost to a fault. However, I was surprised at his mention of empathy. I had never realized that he worked so hard to listen and to hear what his customers were feeling and saying, and then to tailor his comments to their desires. When I asked him about it, he claimed that this was the primary key to his success.
No Place for the Sacred in Sales!
I was appalled. My wife, Nancy, and I were professors of counselor education at that time. We had just written and published an eight-session empathy training program called Tune In. Empathy, we felt, was akin to a sacred skill for caring, connecting with others, and helping people heal. Using this skill as a manipulative sales tool seemed an abomination. We called his principle “Empathy on the Offense.” And we truly thought t…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).
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