Why Customer Empathy is Critical To Your Success

I recently overheard a troubling conversation between a business owner and his prospective client.

The business owner was angry because the prospect had previously asked to be called back in a few months. Those few months had now passed, and the business owner was following up as requested by the prospect.

However, when the business owner called again, but the prospect indicated he wasn’t interested, before even hearing the pitch.

The prospect’s initial request for a callback was likely to avoid the sales pitch. And now having received the requested callback, his stance was that he wasn’t interested.  

The business owner became quite agitated.

I don’t appreciate you wasting my time” was one of the things he said to the prospect.

I sat there, surprised, thinking ‘did he really just say that?’.

This could easily be dismissed as a moment of frustration, and then forgotten, but there’s a bigger lesson here.

We shouldn’t take it personally if a prospect says no. Nor should we take it personally if they don’t want to talk to us. They’ve been conditioned to resist sales pitches because they’ve heard so many bad ones.  

“But they didn’t take the time to listen to how our product could help them.”

If we don’t help them see a better future, and how our product solves their problem or fulfills their desire, it’s not the customer’s fault. It’s ours.

The problem, then, is for us to solve.

We have to find ways to turn prospects into friends so they’ll be more likely to speak with us (or read our sales copy). We must have empathy with their thinking, and the challenges they face, to be able to help them.

Should you ever tell off a prospect?

The answer should be obvious.

The broader questions to consider are:  

  • “Why would you do this and what would you hope to achieve?”
  • “How will doing this make your business more successful?”
  • “Do you want to lose potential future business?”

Getting into a verbal altercation with a prospect is never the answer. When a prospect can say bad things about you, your company and your product/service, it’s not worth it.

But the bigger question we need to continually ask ourselves is “how can I better empathise with my customer?”

Asking this, and reflecting upon the answers, is the key to serving them better,  and to our success.

About The Author

Eric Moeller

Eric Moeller is the Managing Director of Copy Dojo, an agency which helps startups improve their sales copywriting to rapidly grow their business. He has two decades of experience in high tech marketing and product management. Eric has an MBA in marketing, and completed Seth Godin's altMBA in the summer of 2015.

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