Empathy in the Business Process

5 min

It is already known that being empathic is increasingly necessary for the coexistence of the human being and one of the educational foundations we all need. Despite it, the word empathy, unfortunately, is still a word that is little used in the business realm. Its meaning, which is the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes and understand his/her needs, dissatisfactions and goals rationally, is critical to any sales process, especially a consultative sale. The focus is on ‘listening’…

But you should not confuse empathy with sympathy. The latter is important to create connections on an emotional basis and a powerful personal trait that can facilitate the closing of a deal, but that does not support a complex sale by itself.

When we talk about an e-commerce project, which includes many services and choices to be made, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is a basic premise to effectively help your prospects tread the best path and take their next steps. The consumer revolution called ‘E-commerce’ is still at an embryonic stage all over the world and you, a VTEX partner, will be the agent of this change with us! For this, you need to position yourself as such, after all, the sale is based on trust and this trust will come from your conduct towards the prospective customer.

Being empathetic with whom?

As you know, the number of interlocutors we will have depends on the complexity and size of the project, but, in general, we will talk to CEOs, CTOs, CMOs, and CFOs, who, however aligned with your relationship, have different focuses, and sometimes even regarding the same issue. Also, regardless whether they are more or less busy, neither of them thinks they have time to meet a ‘seller’.

Needless to say, the more prepared the business team is, in terms of both processes and knowledge, the better their chances of conversion. Understanding too much about design and not being able to talk to the financial manager on how to find the break-even point of the e-commerce is useless. There is no point in being excellent in information processes and architecture if there is no joint intelligence on what the customers will do at first to activate their store and reach their final customer.

With a track record of research and a great experience, it is important that you can develop your buyer personas (we will talk about this in another article in the future) to try to understand how to deal with each of them, their main objections, fears, and needs. This is only possible through a good dose of empathy, lots of studying and updating in this market that is continuously changing.

If your business position is not to advise your VTEX customer, be sure that even if you close the project, your company will not be responsible for its maintenance. We have identified that this is one of the mistakes committed by some of our partners. They lose the customer as soon as the project is delivered, no matter whether the customer needs an agency to track their business. This affects the very existence of the partner agency, since, after all, it is easier to work with a base customer and a guaranteed income than finding new customers for new projects. You must always have an advisory conduct!

Understanding the needs of the lead

If the market overall is still immature, one of the major tasks of your business team will be to identify the needs that each of these interlocutors has and that they often do not even know they have. Showing yourself the holder of the necessary solution will be natural upon showing the knowledge required for raising issues about which the person did not know.

A practical example of this is when we can clearly identify and prove that money is being lost. Whether it relates to something simple, such as a tricky checkout flow (with which the Smartcheckout® contributes to an average increase of 21% in the conversion rate) or a diagnosis of SEO errors that may be driving the traders to spend more funds than they should with paid media.

Evidently, the prospects’ inputs will be key in this process; after all, they tend to know the market in which they operate, its particularities, their own company and the details of their business inside and out. One of your duties is to combine your knowledge of the digital market and the e-commerce to solve the problems identified by your customers. It is important to remember that there is no recipe, and what works for one company will not necessarily work for the other.

Seemingly similar businesses often have significant differences in their business core that we do are not able to identify only by visiting the site. Recently, I visited an operation that deals with more than 50% of its products through cross-docking. The adjustment requirements in the logistics module, the ERP, the catalog, the front and communication of the store are important compared to other retailers in the same industry that do not have this feature. Ask and listen more and suggest less.

As already said, to sell a VTEX project, you must be quite acquainted with your prospects’ business. But in order for them to provide you with all the answers you need to help them, you will need to win their confidence. Empathy will be critical to add value and provide reliability to the project you want to sell.

Preparing for sale

A consultative sales process has several well-defined steps, all of which structured in the famous sales pipeline; but this process begins long before the direct contact with the prospects. Based on the assumption that you already know what your value proposition as a company and its differentials are, the following are some insights on how to act empathetically before your first contact with your prospects.

After all, what do I gain by using Empathy as a VTEX Partner?

Empathy within the business world and especially with VTEX projects can bring important benefits:

On top of that, I believe that the most important concept to be passed on is that considering our own proposal and service from the perspective of the other person is critical. If we can understand that the result of our customers is our result, we have already taken a first big step together.