Communicating with Clients’ Emotional Interests in Mind

Published: March 13, 2023

The last time you went shopping for something that required consultation, did you feel like the sales rep either wasn’t listening to you or had their own agenda? Have you felt like your wants and needs were being ignored? Your potential client does not want to feel this way, and if you ever give them these signals, they will seek out the first possible moment to escape and look for someone else to work with. Learn to communicate with your clients’ emotional interests in mind.

Consumers are more educated these days than they were 25 years ago, thanks to this wonderful thing we call the internet. So many people in retail sales think this is a frustrating thing because clients will come to them believing they know more about their products and services than they do. This can frustrate some designers because it can be difficult to show their clients that there may be a better choice for them.

Some clients I have spoken with have said that during an initial meeting with a designer, they were told “Oh, you don’t want that.” They were being told that what they wanted was not only unimportant, but that they were making the “wrong choices.” Their consultant was insisting they knew better because they were the professional.

Taking the Correct Approach

Remember that with every interaction with your prospect, you are doing one of two things: gaining trust or eroding trust. If you want to retain your prospect, the best way is to be empathetic toward their situation, their wants and their needs. Empathy is the ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and understand their feelings and motivations. You may think there are better choices available to your prospect, but guess what? They don’t know this, and sometimes they may not even care. They want what they want.

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The difficult part many designers miss is expressing how they “get” where their clients is coming from. You may naturally want to present to them what you know to be better alternatives to what they have in mind. Even if you see this problem frequently, your prospect believes their situation is special and will not be open to exploring options with you until they know you understand them and feel what they say is important.

An example of how to demonstrate empathy and communication with your clients’ emotional interests in mind would be to phrase your responses carefully and go through the steps. This can be tiresome because you must go through the same steps every time, but I promise you, the result will be well worth it.

Navigating the Discussion

To open the dialogue about other options or choices, a great response could be: “I fully understand that you want this look or this product. If I could show you some other choices that might be better for you because they (insert advantage here), would you consider them?” Acknowledge that they have done some helpful research, but let them know there are some other options of which they may not be aware, and ask if they are open to discuss those because of their added benefits.

By taking this approach, you are showing your prospect their ideas have value, and you are also asking permission to explore other options. You are demonstrating that this will be a collaborative process where you will work together as a team to give your client their preferred result.

It takes a lot of patience to show this kind of empathy toward your prospect, especially in a busy atmosphere where you may have many projects in the works with looming deadlines. This is the time to slow down and not rush through the process. Something that will help is to practice scripts (yes, I said scripts), so that what you want to say is effortless and you can focus on the needs of your customer rather than how to not offend them.

It was Zig Ziglar who said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you just help enough other people get what they want.” A good salesperson is a guide to help their customers get what they want. If you can accomplish this by truly and genuinely expressing your empathy toward your prospect, they will not only choose to buy from you, but they will also refer you to all their friends and acquaintances.

By Duane Becker, founder of SaPré Training, which provides sales and presentation training for kitchen and bath professionals. 

Photo credit: zinkevych/Adobe Stock

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