I was interviewing a leader about her recent buying experience, who said, “after I got my title, it was like I became a target.”
She was already swamped as her inbox filled with cold emails, calls, email sequences, and more.
She wondered why sellers and marketers weren’t thinking about her experience (even before she expressed interest.)
I wondered what would happen if we didn’t treat people as leads (dehumanizing) and instead related our future customers like people.
There’s a difference.
Here’s what I mean:
As marketers, we have more ways to observe customer behavior and leverage tools like marketing automation, analytics, machine learning, and CRM systems to help us manage all this complexity.
The complexity found in things like Marketing-qualified leads (MQLs), Sales-qualified leads (SQLs), opportunities, lead engagement scores, and other KPIs are helpful to see trends and measure what we deem important to us something is often missing.
That missing piece is customer empathy.
We can get so caught up in our systems, tools, and investments that we lose sight of empathy for the recipients of our messages.
We miss what their experience is like and how they’re feeling.
Here are a few things you can do to improve the experience of future customers:
Talk directly to your customers and potential customers
I’ve found that marketers don’t often talk directly with the very people they reach out to with lead generation messages. All too often, customer success, sales reps, support are the only ones talking to customers live and/or in real life.
Here are some ways to fix that:
- Pick up the phone
- Survey customers on your email list
- Get out in the field with your sales team and meet customers face to face
It is critical to know what customers want to serve them better.
Businesses often take the understanding of the customer for granted when this is one thing that should always be valued. For ideas on the questions to ask your customers, read this post: 8 Questions to Steer Your Marketing Priorities.
Use those conversations to understand what customers care about
Instead of worrying about being interesting, you need first to be interested in your customers. Your goal is to understand your customer’s motivation (what they want) and make sure that it’s aligned with what you can deliver.
It is most effective to actively listen with empathy to consciously understand and see the world from the other person’s perspective.
Avoid “hearing” through a filter formed by your own worldview as a marketer, and do not impose your preconceived ideas on what you hear because doing so will inhibit your efforts to put yourself in your customers’ shoes.
Apply what customers care about to anticipate what they want from you
You need to move from company logic to customer thinking.
This is a choice.
Customers want to work with people and companies that can step in their shoes and understand the results they are trying to achieve.
But before you can do this, you must first actively listen to them and understand their situation and concerns.
At its core, lead generation is really about relationships.
I wonder what would happen if we stopped treating people as leads (dehumanizing) and instead treated them as human beings or future customers. What would happen if we put ourselves in our future customers’ shoes and looked at our messages from their perspective, and trying to feel what they feel when they hear from us?
If you want to improve your influence and empathetic connection with people, watch this RSA short:
In this 3-minute animated video, Brené Brown reminds us that we can only create a genuine, empathetic connection if we are brave enough to really get in touch with our own fragilities.
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Read more about What is empathy-based marketing.
Customer-centric Marketing: How transparency translates into trust [More from the blogs]
Customer-centric Marketing: Learning from customers helps increase lead quality 130%, Sales-accepted leads 40% [Case study]
New Research: Customer Empathy and How to Solve Buying Problems
thanks for this timely post.
I love your post and I really enjoyed watching the 3-minute animated video. It’s true that the best way to serve your customers better is to know what they really want, ensuring that it’s aligned with what you can deliver. Thank you for reminding us of this. Very helpful indeed!
Figuring out what we are going to say even before the other person ended their speech seems rather over-hasty and gives you a 95% chance to say the wrong thing 🙂
Have a great weekend.
@Matthew Theis Thanks for taking the time to comment! You bring up great points that we can’t know if we don’t have a conversation.
@Brigitte Kobi Thank you for reading. I liked your point that we need to remember we’re human and need to make “free listening space.” Fran Leobowitz said the following about our about our humanness tendency, “The opposite of talking isn’t listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.” For me this is true. The hard part is making sure we’re really listening to understand rather than using that time to figuring out what we’re going to say.
Thanks for sharing your insight and that great video clip. I absolutely agree that customers are not deals or leads but there are humans and want to be treated as such. I think this is the most important message of your article. Moreover, it is pretty clear that a service provider must understand their needs. You say that we should stop “hearing things through a filter”. Well, that is a difficult point. Providers are human too. And nobody can understand anything without a certain background. We cannot just swich off ourselves. However, we should try to make some “free listening space”.
Have a great week.
Thank you for this timely post. It is easy to forget that behind the numbers are people like you and me who make the majority of their buying decisions based on emotions. While all the data that we can capture today is helpful, it is still difficult to gage a prospect or customer’s true feelings without having an actual conversation.
Whenever possible, sales and marketing people need to pick up the phone, get in their car or get on a plane and talk to the people who are making the actual buying decisions. It is the only way to know if you are heading down the right path.
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