How Lack Of Empathy Screws Up the Sale After the Sale

Congratulations! Your hard work has paid off and you’ve landed a new client, one that fits your ideal client profile. You exchange handshakes and hugs, and now the real sale begins — the sale after the sale.   Unfortunately, this part of the sales process is where the sale starts falling apart and the customer experience is dinged.

Why? Because the team members handling the sale after the sale are never taught formal sales, communication or emotional intelligence skills. It’s crazy because these team members are the people dealing with the installation of your product or service, trouble-shooting issues with customers or fielding questions.

It’s time to educate and train the team executing the sale after the sale.

One of the most important skills to be taught is empathy, the ability to emotionally connect with the customers, and understand what they are thinking or feeling. Without this skill, the team members executing the sale after the sale often don’t meet the client’s expectation. They don’t do it on purpose; they just don’t know any better.

Let’s look at one example from a customer service department in a technology company. This department often fields calls from confused and/or upset customers. Its employees are taught to validate the customer by making statements such as, “I’m sorry for your frustration.” The intention is good but the methodology is wrong. This response sounds canned, generic and patronizing.  The customer is thinking, “You have no idea why I am frustrated.”

Validation is not empathy. Empathy is SAYING what your customer  is thinking or feeling. In this case, the customer service person needs to describe why the customer is feeling frustrated. When they do, magic happens. The customer feels heard and understood.

Here is a basic principle of influence: Your customers can’t hear your great advice on fixing a problem until they know and believe you’ve heard and understood them.

Let’s look at a few examples of how an empathetic customer service person responds. First, they step into their customer’s shoes, then they offer advice.

“I am sorry. You probably have members of your team standing around extremely frustrated because they can’t get their work done.”

“This must be stressful,  as I know you probably have customers calling in that are upset because they can’t get into their portals.”

“I am pretty sure you have 15 other things to get done on your plate besides calling me to fix a problem you didn’t think was going to happen.”

Train your team about soft skills that produce hard sales results — the retention of good clients. Teach them real-world empathy. Your customer still may be annoyed at the problem. However, she will better engage with your sale-after-the-sale team to fix the problem once she feels she has been heard.

Walk a mile in your customer’s shoes. It’s the best way to ensure repeat business, referral business and extremely satisfied clients.

Good Selling!

Colleen Stanley

Colleen Stanley is the founder and president of SalesLeadership, Inc. She is a monthly columnist for Business Journals across the country, author of ‘Growing Great Sales Teams’ and co-author of ‘Motivational Selling.’ Her new book, 'Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success,' published by Amacom, a division of the American Management Association, is available in bookstores now. Colleen is the creator of Ei Selling®, a unique and powerful sales program that integrates emotional intelligence skills with consultative selling skills. Prior to starting SalesLeadership, Colleen was vice president of sales and marketing for Varsity Spirit Corporation. During her 10 years at Varsity, sales increased from 8M to 90M. Varsity was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the 200 fastest growing companies in the United States. When Colleen is not traveling or training, she loves to hike, read and hang with her husband Jim, and friends.

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