Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
-Stephen Covey

For years, I have counseled clients and friends to employ empathy in the sales process. It is absolutely critical that we both understand and identify with the concerns of our prospects. If we don’t, they will know it from a mile away.

But is it possible to care too much about your prospect’s concerns? The answer is yes…and no.

Think of the sales dance as being something like your relationship with your children. When your child sobs because you send him to bed or won’t let him have a toy he wants, you feel his crying in your bones. You’d like to give him what he wants not simply to make the crying stop – but also to make him happy.

Good parents, however, understand the need for “tough love” in order to help their children develop a practical tool kit for life.
The same thing is true of our prospects.

I do not want to simply dismiss my prospects’ concerns over perceived feature and function deficiencies. I want to share their apprehension over limited budgets – and I want to care how they are perceived by their peers and supervisors.

If I have done my homework, however, I am convinced that my company offers the best set of products and services to meet their needs.

“Tough love” in this case means that I can relate to their anxiety over budget constraints – but I am eager for them to grasp an opportunity to obtain cost-effective solutions.

It means I understand and agree that my product could benefit from a few additional features – but that I don’t want them to lose the forest for the trees.

In short, I know that the world is not perfect – but that I can nonetheless improve their lives and their bottom lines. In this way, I am able to stay relentlessly focused on two compatible goals; the success and happiness of my prospects – and the continued profitability of my business.