Last week’s blog spoke about how using the empathetic approach will get us to yes more often.

Three weeks ago, I wrote about the Transactional Business Model versus the Emotional Business Model and this week we tie those two ideas together for deeper clarity on this critical aspect of sales.

Each weekly post during July and August, I will focus on a different aspect of what we are going to call Practical empathy. Practical empathy is essential to Move More People and interestingly, empathy can be learned!

Practical Empathy

Empathy is not sympathy or compassion. Empathy is the ability to see the world from someone else’s perspective without judgment. While it is simple, it is not easy.

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To develop practical empathy, we must learn to let go of what we believe to be true.

Our assumptions, expectations and beliefs will cloud our ability to understand what is true for someone else.

Curiosity about people is the key to practical empathy.

Let’s go on a listing appointment.

You arrive at the home well prepared for your sales presentation. The sellers greet you at the door and invite you into the kitchen. You sit down, make a little small talk about how nice their home is and then begin your presentation about you, your company and your solution to get their home sold. They politely listen, ask a few questions and thank you for your time as they see you out. Any idea of what your chances are of getting the listing contract? Somewhere between 0-25%.

Why, because you don’t know a thing about them, their perspective, their concerns, their dreams, their fears or their challenges. The solutions you’ve offered solve the problems you’ve guessed they have, not the ones they really have. They know how great you think you are and how great you think your company is and you’ve given them a number they will compare with the number they get from other sources.

Let’s imagine a different scenario.

You arrive at the home well prepared and full of curiosity about the people you are about to meet. The sellers greet you at the door and invite you into the kitchen. You look around and ask them some questions about it. “This is a great space, when did you redo the kitchen?” and they answer, “about 7 years ago”. You respond, “No kidding, it seems newer than that. I especially like the way the island is asymmetrical to the counters – how did you come up with such a creative solution?” Now the sellers get to talk about themselves and their creativity and you get to learn about them. If you are a master salesperson, you’ll listen like a sage (see next weeks blog post) and pick up every bit of information you can to understand your prospective client’s point of view. As you all sit down, you make them feel at ease by letting them know you’d like to know more about their situation and how you could help them. You may let them know that while you are here to discuss listing their home for sale, learning about what they need is most important. And then begins the nuanced dance of questions, responses, information sharing and trust building that are essential to both earning the listing contract and having a collaborative relationship with the seller so you can work together to get the best outcome.

As you uncover information about the sellers you can begin to understand them at a deeper level. You would like to know where they are going, what is motivating them and what their time frame is. You want to know what is most important to them in an agent. You want to uncover any misconceptions they have about the process.

We’ve all met sellers who think they should give the listing to the agent who gives them the highest price, or the lowest commission rate, or both! If getting the most amount of money is important to them then we need to build enough collaboration to help them understand the process and to make a better decision. Empathy allows us to see their point of view without judgment. “Ms. Seller, I get the feeling you are thinking of giving the listing to the agent who gives you the highest price – am I on the right track?” and she answers yes. “And, getting the most amount of money for your home is very important to you isn’t it Ms. Seller?” and again she answers yes. “Ms. Seller, have you ever sold a home before?” and she says “Yes, I have. I sold my little condominium when I moved into this home”. “Nice – would you share with me what that was like for you?” This will open the door to her sharing real information with you. Her experience may have been great, or horrific or anywhere in between. It doesn’t matter. It’s about her and it gives you a chance to understand how it all looks and feels from her point of view.

The likelihood of us earning the listing contract in this scenario increases to about 65-85%. It takes less time, has more value for the seller and the agent but most importantly, the process of fulfilling the contract will be quicker, easier and will produce better results because you and the seller are now thinking together instead of struggling with that sense of conflict that so often exists in the realtor/client relationship.

Curiosity is paramount to practical empathy. To improve your curiosity try this exercise: set a curiosity alarm on our smart phone for five minutes before each appointment you schedule in the next week.   Choose a sound you associate with curiosity. Use this alarm to let go of what you think you know and be curious about the people you are meeting with.

No appointments? Great reason to get a few!



The most practical thing they teach at Harvard Business School