One of the things you’re taught early on in sales training is the need to understand how to think like the person you’re selling to.
In other words, it’s necessary to imagine the different goals and business decisions the prospect likely has to make in the course of their role and figure out where your solution naturally fits within that order…and there-within figure out how to prioritize the solution you’re selling.
This is called perspective-taking, and studies have pretty much proven the necessity of perspective-taking in the negotiation process. Perspective-taking can be defined as “the cognitive power to consider the world from someone else’s viewpoint”.
But be warned, you don’t want to get so far into someone’s mind that you lose sight of your own strategic objective. You need to avoid empathy.
Empathy begins where perspective-taking ends; the point of departure is emotion. Once you connect with a prospect’s role and challenges on an emotional level, you risk losing sight of your own objectives and will likely fail to sell, especially in the complex sale.
Here are some key differences between the sales styles of the Perspective-Taker and the Empathizer:
- Empathizers are poor objection handlers. They can’t get past the objection because they see it as a reasonably insurmountable hurdle.
- Perspective-takers are great objection handlers because they have anticipated objections in advance and are prepared to diffuse them.
- Empathizers are more concerned with relationships than value.
- Perspective-takers know that value creates relationships.
- Empathizers see barriers.
- Perspective-takers see opportunities.
Ultimately, being one or the other isn’t simply a difference in style, but of entirely different sales methodologies. But make no mistake, these methods are not equal in any way…the perspective-taker is a far more effective salesperson than the empathizer and far more fit for the challenges of modern selling.