Human nature is a funny thing. One of the traits that we tend to have is that we think other people are like us, and yet we already know that there are all kinds of people!
How does this affect us in business?
We often assume that a client will react in the same way that we would. So … we “fake ourselves out” sometimes because we think a client will react negatively, because that is what we might do.
A client may ask for a discount … we examine the situation, do some analysis and determine we can’t give one. A salesperson delivering that message will often be apologetic, embarrassed or any other kind of emotion, yet more often than not the client will say, “Yeah, that’s what I thought … but I had to ask!”
A salesperson might say, “I can’t call the client too early in the day because he/she needs time to get settled in.” A classic case of projecting our own thoughts on someone else … many clients would love to get business calls early in the morning.
“I don’t think our clients will like this marketing giveaway”. What is really being said is that I don’t like it! This is a personal experience for me, I have been involved with tons of “give aways” here at Eagle, some of which I just didn’t like … but I learned early, that everyone has different tastes, and mine are not always representative of the clients! Go figure!
One of the greatest attributes a salesperson can build on is their empathy. Wikipedia’s description includes many versions of this word, this is the one I like best in this context …
Alvin Goldman: The ability to put oneself into the mental shoes of another person to understand her emotions and feelings.
If we can truly understand what our clients are thinking, and feeling, then we can really make sure that we are giving them what they want … rather than giving them what “we would want” if we were in their place!
The best way to learn about how our clients are thinking is to get to know them well, to ask lots of questions, to be ACTUALLY interested in their answers (shock) and to work at building a relationship.