Specialists that analyze this subject refer to this as The New Age of Innovation.
The empathic business model developed around the product assumes that customers are invited to participate in the development of the product in case. They are allowed to present their ideas and to get involved in the actual production of the product in case.
The empathic business model based on price consists in strategies that offer a very low price or no charge pat all in exchange of certain information that can be used for advertising purposes, or for the fact that the customer must carry or assembly the product in case.
The empathic business model based on place are usually related to the use of the Internet, that allows customers to access the product or service whenever they want, from wherever they want.
The empathic business model based on promotion refers to strategies developed in order to create products-based n the buying behavior that has been observed on other customers.
Empathy in Sales
Empathy has become more and more important in the sales activity. Sales persons that are not capable of empathy are proven to have poor results in comparison with those able to introduce empathy in their customer persuasion repertoire.
This is because sales persons empathize with their customers by putting themselves in their position and trying to figure out what is on their mind. They try to identify the needs and requirements that determine their purchasing behavior (Mortensen, 2006). They must also identify more sensitive aspects, like financial ones. In other words, they must figure out how much the customer in case is able and willing to pay for a certain product or service.
In some cases, not even the customer is perfectly aware of what he really needs. The sales person must therefore help him identify this need and satisfy it, by building a relationship with the customer based on trust and on understanding the situation of the customer (CREIO, 1998).
When making the sales call, the seller must take into consideration the fact that there are several types of customers, with different behaviors, different response patterns, different purchase motivations, different needs, and different personality (Cherniss, 2010). Each type of customer must be handled differently in order to achieve the objective of the sales call.
The primary objective of the sales call consists in determining the potential customer to listen to the seller's offer, in other words to inform the customer about the product or service in case. The secondary objective of the sales call consists in indentifying or creating a need from the customer towards the product or service the sales caller is trying to advertise.
Such a response from the customer becomes more and more difficult to achieve. This is because customers feel harassed by these sales calls, and most of the times the sales persons that call them irritate and annoy customers. In such cases, even if the customer could be potentially interested in the product or service in case, the initial response is to reject the sales person's offer and to address other manners in which the customer can purchase the needed product.
This rejection attitude from customers is the result of defective management regarding the activity of call centres and of their employees. Since the establishment of call centers and phone advertising, the sales callers implemented unsuitable strategies during these calls, determining customers to reject even the idea of having to receive such a call. This leads to reduced efficiency.
It is therefore recommended that call centre employees are thoroughly trained in order to gain solid knowledge regarding the typology of the customer, its behavior and motivations. The understanding of these characteristics allows sales call personnel to rapidly identify the type of customer they are encountering and to adjust their sales call strategy in accordance with the typology of the customer.
The Role of Empathy in a Sales Call
There are several types and levels of listening, or empathy:
Passive listening or not listening
Biased listening or projective listening
Attentive data only listening
Empathic listening or empathetic listening
These are the types of listening portrayed by sales persons in certain sales calls. Most of them are inefficient in result in not being able to convince the potential customer or to even irritate the customer in case.
In the case of the passive listening, the customer observes noise in the background, and practically ignores the sales person that called him. In this case, it is likely that the customer does not even memorize the name of the company or the product or service that the sales person is trying to promote.
In the case of the pretend listening, it is obvious that the caller is not really interested in the motivation and behavior of the customer (Chapman, 2009). He does not take into consideration what the customer is trying to tell him, but continues to display some sort of scenario that he usually tells all customers. The customer can tell from the sales person's behavior that he is not trying to understanding his feelings and needs, and therefore usually decides to respond in the same manner, by rejecting the product or service the sales person is promoting.
Biased or projective listening is characterized by selective behavior. In other words, the sales person making the call tends to disregard some of the aspects that the customer wants to discuss, and chooses to focus only on the aspects of interest to the sales person in case. This is another example of inefficient sales calls.
Misunderstood listening is similar to biased listening. In this case, the sales person assumes that the customer has certain needs that do not correspond with the reality that the customer is trying to explain. This further leads to defective communication and several misunderstandings.
Attentive listening is a more efficient strategy used by sales persons during the calls they make to potential or existing customers. In this case, the customer can observe that the sales person is interested in his opinion and actually listens to what the customer wants to say. But what the customer may not realize is that the sales person is using certain manipulation techniques in order to persuade him into buying the product or service in case.
Empathic listening is one of the most important strategies that can be applied by ales persons is the calls they make. This is because in this case the sales person is really listening to what the customer wants to say and is really interested in identifying the needs and motivations of the customer in order to find a solution that satisfies both parties.
Facilitative listening is even more efficient than empathic listening, because this type of listening is oriented towards the satisfaction of the customer.
Having empathic abilities does not suffice in developing and implementing an efficient sales call strategy. This strategy must be adapted in accordance with the particularities of each situation and each customer (Richardson, 1997). This is why it is important that the sales caller in secure regarding the typology of the customer. There are several types of customers that the sales callers deal with. Some of them are irritated, some of them are bored customer, while others are more shy and should be treated in accordance.
The irritated customer has received several sales calls, which were not properly managed, leading to the irritation of the potential customer. This determines the customer in case to reject any other sales call he might receive, no matter the subject of the call. It is recommended that such customers are addressed by experience sales persons that have the ability of persuading them into at least presenting the offer and information regarding the product or service in case.
In addition to empathy, such calls required great patience from sales callers. When dealing with irritated customers, the caller must make use of such patience and disregard the negative attitude of customers (Cherniss, 1999). This is because many sales callers, especially inexperienced ones, have the tendency to become just as irritated as the customer in case is, which makes it difficult to reach the call's objectives.
There are customers that are bored, but may be willing to listen to the offer that the sales person intends to make. This is the type of customer that sales callers should insist on. In this case it is important to attract the customer's attention and to switch his attitude from a bored to an interested one. This can be achieved by focusing on the aspects of the product that create competitive advantage, on the characteristics that other products do not have, or on the novelties and innovations that the product or service in case ensure.
Also, there are customers that are simply not interested in the product or service the sales caller intends to promote, but cannot refuse…