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Is ‘Hope you’re well’ really enough anymore?

Empathy isn’t just a buzzword. It can be your key to sales success at this challenging time. Let’s find out more.

As I write this, we’re just starting the fifth week of the Coronavirus lockdown. Most of us are working from home, although some of us may be furloughed under the government’s Job Retention Scheme until the crisis is over. 

For someone who typically runs training sessions and speaks at industry events, I’ve had to completely change my approach to what I do. I’ve been running workshops online and talking at virtual events, including several different sessions with SDRs. They’re finding they have to adapt the way they work too. However, many have found it a challenge. I’ve heard all kinds of things, from ‘Nobody picks up their phone anyway’ to ‘They get loads of email’. 

So, how can SDRs cut through the noise and make a genuine connection during this unique period in our lives?

Everyone is different

The thing is, every individual is different. Right now, the lockdown is highlighting these differences and bringing them out into the open. We’re all acting differently right now, so generic statements like those above simply do not apply.

As an SDR calling up a prospect during the Coronavirus lockdown, your goal should not be to sell. Your goal should be to empathise, relate on a human level, show you are there and able to help. 

What is empathy?

Empathy seems to be the buzzword with all the influencers at the moment, but what does it actually mean? How does it relate to what we do in sales? For me, it’s about going beyond the standard conventions and platitudes.

When you send an email, do you start it with ‘I hope you’re doing well’ or something like that? That’s nice and polite, sure. In normal circumstances, it’s probably what you’d do. But, is it genuine empathy? I don’t think so.

Empathy is the ability to share and understand someone else’s feelings. It’s about building a connection beyond an SDR trying to book a meeting with a prospect.

How to apply empathy

Here’s how an SDR can show empathy and build a connection on a call.

Firstly, before you make the call, think about what could be going on in your prospect’s life right now. They could have been sick with the virus, or perhaps one of their loved ones is suffering. They could be worried about their job, or the financial impact of being furloughed. They may be home-schooling an 8-year-old and a 5-year-old and are on the verge of losing their sanity! 

Think about the job your prospect does also. If you sell to HR, consider how many tough conversations they may have had about redundancies and furloughing, on top of the worry about their own jobs. 

You can’t do much to help them in this situation, but you can acknowledge it. Open your call by talking about the uncertainty around what’s going on. Share your experiences about how it’s different. It doesn’t hurt to show a bit of vulnerability. All of this will put your prospect at their ease and get them to open up.

Empathy works.

Be yourself

My biggest tip around empathy though is a simple one – be genuine. 

You’re a nice person, right? You care about other people and the experiences they’re going through. When you speak to someone, whether it’s a total stranger or someone you’ve talked to many times before, show that you care.

Maybe it’ll help you sell. Maybe it won’t. But, it could make their day. It could provide them with something truly memorable.

Then, when this crisis is over, maybe it will help you make better connections in the future. After all, we all have our challenges to face, even when we’re not locked down at home. We’re all different and we’re all going through something. Try not to forget that.