When I was a green-as-a-head-of-cabbage commission sales rep, I made a startling discovery …
My job was to barge in on local industrial, retail, and service businesses and extract a small check for $30 and a signature that meant the local gas utility would deliver their natural gas through my company’s supply contracts.
One day, while driving from one town to the next I came upon a very large building sitting by its lonesome on an almost deserted stretch of highway.
I detoured down the lengthy service road to check the size of the meter and piping on the outside of the building. It was GINORMOUS!
What this meant was I could earn a fat commission if I could get the owner of the building to sign up. I went inside and inquired as to who was in charge, and was directed to an address nearby in the countryside. I found the man’s name on a mailbox on a narrow and heavily wooded side road in the middle of nowhere.
I entered the long winding driveway and eventually came upon an extremely large stone home and guesthouse that could only be described as a mansion surrounded by wondrous gardens, duck ponds, and what must have been no less than 5 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds.
I rang the doorbell, and was met by an elderly man who turned out to be the man I was looking for. I introduced myself, and was about to make my customary pitch, when somehow at the last second before opening my mouth I sensed that the man wanted to talk to me. Instead of speaking, I simply looked at him, and waited for him to speak.
Sure enough he invited me in, offered me refreshments, and began sharing his various hobbies and interests. And for the next couple of hours I barely said a word. I simply listened to him and nodded occasionally. Eventually he said, “I know you’re busy, you mentioned you were here from the gas company …”
I told him what I was selling, and asked for his signature and a check. Without hesitating, he complied. I thanked him, got in my car, and left.
In those two hours, I made more commission than in the previous two weeks, and I hadn’t said more than a few words to get it. The whole experience was surreal.
What your prospects silently crave but seldom get – give it to them and the world is your oyster …
Here was an extremely wealthy man who had everything except someone who would listen to him and make him feel understood. Something about my countenance made him believe I was that person, and I had enough intelligence to play along.
Later, when I got involved in high ticket technology sales that involved multiple interactions, I always remembered this strange lesson, and it paved the way to tens of millions of dollars in sales.
I never again found anyone else who opened up to me quite as easily and enthusiastically as the strange rich gentlemen, but I discovered that with a little encouragement, almost every one of my prospects and clients could be read like a book through an honest expression of interest and a few thoughtful questions.
And every single one of them conveyed the same unspoken message. “Help me to feel understood.”
Isn’t this the silent plea of most people?
I’ve found few other skills as useful in sales and marketing as helping people to fulfill this need. It gives you a competitive advantage that is difficult to decipher and even more difficult to duplicate.
Allow me to draw a distinction between understanding your target audience and helping them to feel understood. What I’m suggesting here is a much deeper level of communication than most people think about.
It is literally the difference between trying to sell somebody something, and getting them to want to buy from you. Do you see the difference?
What I discovered was that when I did most of the talking, people were much more difficult to lead to a positive decision. But when I made an effort to get them talking about what they wanted to talk about – if I listened carefully enough – I would almost always hear them telling me exactly what they wanted me to say to convince them to buy.
Each client had things they wanted to talk to me about more than communications networks and software systems. My rare talent for listening helped me to develop strong relationships with them.
What I was selling could have been purchased from several other salespeople and companies, in many cases for substantially less, but helping my clients to feel understood, made them want to buy it from me.
In time, I had clients sharing their deepest personal problems and aspirations with me. About their children … their employees … their bosses … their golf game … you name it.
Everyone has a need to talk about their problems, concerns, joys, hobbies, or special interests. But very few of us have enough people willing to listen. The secret is knowing the right questions to ask, and being able to shut up and actively listen.
As I began listening to people in this way, I began learning many interesting things about them. It was fascinating to widen my understanding of different people. I felt closer to them, and they seemed to trust me and to buy more from me, more often.
Most importantly, they revealed their mental maps to me. They told me how they viewed the world … what they wanted from life … and exactly what they needed to hear to buy my product.
One of the biggest marketing fails …
Now you may be wondering what all of this has to do with online marketing and selling online. Plenty. You see, one of the biggest reasons a funnel fails is because the copywriter misunderstands his or her role. Few copywriters appreciate just how far the “salesmanship in print” analogy extends.
To successfully market a product, service, or program, you must help people to feel understood, just as a successful salesperson does. In a very real sense you become a part of them and their world.
The most effective marketing conveys a deep, accurate, almost uncanny understanding of the prospects that it is targeted toward. The result is an intense psychological bonding and rapport that will ultimately result in something that can only be described as “a relationship”.
Your voice can literally go with your prospects wherever they go, haunting them whenever they think of the area of their life the product or service you’re selling touches. Do you see the power in what I’m saying?
This does NOT come about by accident. Marketing that is truly empathetic comes about as a result of feeling with another person. It is seeing the world through their eyes and viewing it as they view it. It is not a product of online research, surveys, or interviewing your client. These things are helpful, but they don’t give you an opportunity to strip away the veneer and gain an insight into the deeper structures of people’s experience.
How to create truly empathetic marketing …
If you want to create truly empathetic marketing, you must develop an intense interest in helping people. And go to the trouble of engaging them in intimate conversation. There’s no other way.
Call them discovery calls, strategy sessions, call them what you will… but these conversations should inform every inch of your marketing.
The only difference between the top of the funnel and the bottom is that at the top you are expressing common themes and threads that are felt by a number of different prospects. Real time conversations allow you to pinpoint the most universal appeals that are likely to resonate with your target market.
And this process must bypass the logical and intellectual layers of communication. In talking to these people your number one goal is to help them to feel understood. Only then will they tell you how to communicate your empathy for them, and what they need to hear to be sold.
Do you think you’re getting this right in your marketing?
Do you know how to bypass the logical and intellectual layers of communication when you’re doing discovery with a potential client?
Are you building automated processes and procedures into your marketing that communicate this high-level of empathy and connection BEFORE speaking to people and trying to enroll them in your program?
If you’re not sure, why not apply for one of our legendary strategy sessions that have transformed countless businesses?
Let us help you to identify gaps and weaknesses in your sales process and develop a high-powered plan of attack for exponentially increasing your profits. It all starts with this complimentary session.
You’ll find testimony from experts in every field when you visit that page.
The Bottom Line:
Empathy is a powerful force. It breaks down barriers, cements relationships, and makes people want to buy from you. It silently moves you past their outer defenses, nourishes their sense of self worth, and causes them to mentally say, “You mean something to me.” “You make my life better.” “You help me to be the person I want to be.”
It is interesting to note that a company without a figurehead – and there are a great many of them – will never enjoy this kind of super profitable relationship with its clients. The one-to-one connection, and your ability as a solution provider to help people to feel understood should never be underestimated.