The Feel, Felt, Found Method – Canned Empathy

The Feel, Felt, Found Method – Canned Empathy

Struggling with relationship selling? Then stop serving your customers instant empathy from a can!

Customer: I really don’t think I can afford this right now.

Salesperson: I completely understand how you “feel” about spending money. Others have “felt” the same way when they were considering this purchase too. What they have “found” is that it gets easier to work the monthly payment into their budget over time…

And then WHAM! On to the closing question!

Gag reflex fully engaged

Here’s my problem with the feel, felt, found method. If you learned this . . . ahem, “selling technique” under the premise that using it somehow demonstrates empathy toward the customer . . . you wasted your money on that seminar.

Folks, let’s get serious here for a minute. Using the tired old canned feel, felt, found method in response to a customer’s objection is about as empathetic as marching into a funeral home crowded with total strangers, walking directly up to the most distraught person standing closest to the casket and saying, “I am really sorry about your loss.” No you’re not.

Nothing about this objection-handling response even remotely resembles the use of empathy. In fact, it’s not a selling technique at all, it’s a tactic. And, in its purest form, let’s just call it what it really is-manipulation.

Often touted to be a useful tool for creating rapport, establishing harmony, and building trust with the customer, the feel, felt, found, response to an objection really does none of the above. From a psychological perspective, it does only one thing. It temporarily redirects (manipulates) the customer’s attention away from their expressed concern. The operative word here is temporarily.

When sales are closed using tactics designed to circumvent rather than address objections, after the fact, customers often feel that they were pressured into making a purchase. And having felt that way before, many have found that they feel better the minute they cancel the agreement.

(Now truthfully, how did that feel-a bit manipulative on my part perhaps?)

Genuine empathy is a good thing

Make no mistake about it, interacting with genuine empathy throughout the sales process is a good thing. Responding to an objection with genuine empathy (rather than the canned variety) is a very powerful trust-building component, one that will substantially increase the probability that you will make the sale, and do so in a manner in which the customer feels exceptionally good about the decision they made.

So then, what does genuine empathy look like?

The essence of genuine empathy is found in listening

In his classic work, The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, Steven R. Covey begins the discussion on empathic communication by saying, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” When a customer raises an objection, in the spirit of Dr. Covey, why not seek first to understand by asking for more information?

Customer: I really don’t think I can afford this right now.

Salesperson: I know from personal experience, it seems like it’s never a good time to spend money . . . tell me a little bit more about your situation.

If you really want to create rapport, establish harmony, and build trust with your customer, begin by asking them to “tell you more” when they raise an objection. Once the concern is fully understood, you will be in a far better position to offer the right solution and ultimately, make the sale.

By the way, as for the feel, felt, found response-better check the expiration date on the bottom of that can. Serving it up as instant empathy may leave a bad taste in your customer’s mouth.

By  Diana  Miers

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