Selling with Empathy for High-Performance | Uniphore

Selling with Empathy for High-Performance | Uniphore

6 min read

Buyer-centric sales is already old news.

GIF of a sloth yawning

You may have buyer personas and target customer profiles. But what you really need to get your prospects to buy is an understanding of their state of mind and circumstances.

Gartner calls this “Customer Situational Awareness” and defines it as “every buying situation is unique, and companies need to work to understand the customer’s perspective to outperform competitors.”

But really, it’s just empathy. Or, more specifically, selling with empathy. 

And according to Alice Walmesley, Director of advisory in Gartner Sales, “when done right, it can improve buyer decision-making quality by 11%.”

Translation: if you can empathize with your prospective customers and help them navigate their unique challenges, you can drastically change sales. 

In this blog, we’ll talk about:

  • Why do you need empathy In Sales?

  • Is your sales team’s empathy measurable?

  • 3 ways to measure seller empathy? + how to bring it together

  • Implementing Emotional Intelligence to support your team

Why do you need empathy in Sales?

“People want to buy from people. People want to do business with people, they don’t want to do business with businesses. And an empathetic salesperson creates the difference..”

Daniel Nackovski, former VP of Revenue inRiver and Certainly

But beyond changing the perception of who the prospect is buying from, empathy has tangible benefits to your business. 

Empathy develops trust

When sellers identify with each buyer’s emotional state and circumstances, it builds trust. It also indicates to the buyer that the seller is willing to go the extra mile to understand their circumstances and background. As a result, buyers are likely to share and trust the seller even more. 

But trust doesn’t come solely from empathizing over calls. It extends to follow-ups, action items, and even onboarding. A successful sales rep shows empathy at every step while also nudging the prospective customer forward in the buying journey. 

As a bottom-line benefit, you sell more. Research by Salesforce shows that 89% of business buyers are more likely to buy if a company shows an understanding of their goals.

Empathy helps reps optimize every interaction

Buying journeys are complex, and each seller only gets to influence only a portion of the journey. Where sales once involved only a few key decision-makers, there are now almost 20 stakeholders for every B2B sale. 

So, that small window with the buyer? Every seller has to nail it so the overall sale goes through. 

And being empathetic achieves that.

Empathetic reps ask personalized questions and solve problems for the buyer. As a result, the buyer shares more freely — giving reps more insights for the next interaction.

Empathy isn’t even just limited to rapport-building. It’s about sensing what each buyer wants out of each interaction. 

“Some people don’t want rapport building, they want to get straight down to business. It’s up to the seller’s Emotional Intelligence Quotient to decide what is needed when.”

Jonathon Ilett, Head of Sales at Cognism

Empathy helps sellers focus on buyer needs

Sales reps are often over-eager to share solutions and, well, sell. A higher onus on empathy can help them pivot to a more customer-centered mindset. 

When reps ask more targeted, personalized, and relevant questions, buyers have a better sales experience, and you get more accurate data on prospective customer needs. 

Noora Harju, Sales Manager at Hubspot, says they’ve started ditching the sales script in favor of an empathy-driven sales approach. 

“We used to use playbooks and scripts, and now what we are doing is getting sales reps to ask the right questions — teach them empathy, listening, and problem-solving — before we enter a specific script in their minds.”

Noora Harjui, Sales Manager at Hubspot

Is Your Sales Team’s Empathy Measurable?

For most people we asked, the answer was “no.” Empathy is elusive and can be incredibly hard to measure.

In most cases, the best a sales leader was doing was reviewing call recordings and analyzing if the seller showed empathy. Or estimating off the first interview they had with the seller. 

Not very precise now, is it?

3 Ways to Measure Seller Empathy + How to bring them together

Even though empathy is often mysterious and intrinsic to a seller, there are indirect ways to measure it. Three popular ones are:

Prospective customer feedback

Simply ask your prospective customers for feedback on the sales rep's ability to understand and relate to their needs and concerns. You can do this through buyer surveys, focus groups, or one-on-one interviews.

Sales performance

Track sales reps’ performance and see if they can successfully close deals and build long-term customer relationships. This can tell you whether your reps empathize and problem-solve.


You can ask reps to reflect on their interactions and give an analysis. Could they identify pain points? Were they able to address them without seeming condescending? Did they leave enough room for the buyer to share?

While these methods have been around for a while and are good indicators of empathy, they’re not collectively exhaustive.

Prospective customer feedback depends on each buyer’s time, mental bandwidth, and willingness to share. It would be unwise to expect a complete and evolving picture of empathy from buyer feedback.

While sales performance can indicate a salesperson’s empathetic efforts, it also outlines a lot else in the same place. Ultimately, you have data telling you numerous things, some of which might even be contradictory. Only when paired with other tools can sales performance reliably gauge empathy.

And self-assessment would be great if sellers could remove personal bias and not be overly optimistic about their forecasts. (Have you met a seller? This is almost impossible.)

But each of these methods can — and should — sharpen your scales if you combine them with one empathy measuring tactic—evaluating calls from the buyer’s perspective.

That’s right — flip the script.

GIF of woman saying "Now I have the upper hand"

If you can get unbiased buyer engagement and sentiment insights during the call, you can accurately measure your seller’s empathy. 

Sentiment – the positive or negative emotion a buyer displays

Engagement – the level of compromise and attention a buyer displays

Plot these against buyer feedback and sales performance, and you have the holy trinity: a system for measuring empathy that is verifiable, reliable, and results-driven.

When you evaluate calls from the buyer’s perspective, you automatically bypass each rep’s personal bias. You can even evaluate buyer engagement against reps’ self-assessments and understand common personal biases.

Implementing Emotional Intelligence Tools To Support Your Team

Most sellers would argue that if they’re good at their job, they can read the room and display empathy.

But that’s not always true for virtual sales. 

“If it’s a virtual environment and the slides occupy most of the screen, I only see my audience in tiny squares in the corner of the screen. If I have several people attending and I’m only focused on the pitch I’m delivering, there’s no way I can accurately read everybody.” says Marie Brunet, VP of Sales, Q for Sales.

Virtual selling is like speed dating — you have a limited window to make the best possible impression. 

“You need to have a specific agenda for the person to accept your call. And you don’t have more than 30 minutes to establish rapport and get all your points across.

You have to be extremely efficient if you want to secure a follow-up meeting. You can’t afford to mess up. You have to know exactly how they reacted to what and where you lost them,” says Brunet.

AKA empathy.

But to effectively gauge empathy, you also need a tool that monitors prospective customer interactions beyond video recordings and transcripts. So you can see what your reps are doing right and where they might be dropping the ball. 

A Tool for Measuring Empathy

Q for Sales gives you real-time engagement analysis for every prospect or customer call.

Your sellers no longer have to worry about untraceable gestures in small squares. They can focus on the pitch and have Q for Sales tell them how engaged each buyer is based on their reactions, behavioral cues, and tone of voice.

As a result, your reps know when to self-assess and self-adapt on the call. And you know where your reps need help improving their problem-solving skills.

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