The ego-empathy balance requires paying attention to another’s desires without wholly sacrificing one’s own. Ego is what gives the salesperson the desire to achieve the sale. Empathy is the other story. Empathy gives one the ability to accurately sense the reactions of other people thus producing the connecting means to make the transaction happen amicably. It is the correct portions of ego and empathy that fosters successful selling. 

Let us begin with ego. Ego is that part of us which craves attention, praise, and success. Ego is what promotes our need for self-esteem and confidence. Great salespeople want to make the sale in an intensely personal way. They do not make the sale just because of the money they will earn; they do it because they get a sense of pride and triumph. This ego drive allows salespeople to have enough confidence to build strong relationships while garnering respect and credibility. Successful salespeople must have enough ego to be motivated by failures and rejections yet not be shattered by them.

However, salespeople with too much ego may appear self-centered and arrogant. These salespeople tend to be judgmental and may believe their ideas are superior to everyone else’s. Egocentric salespeople are sometimes “know-it all’s” and have an ardent desire to be right. They often have trouble listening with curiosity. 

On the other hand, empathy is simply understanding what your prospect is feeling. Empathy means creating the time to understand who your customer is, what they stand for and where they are going in life. The desire to empathize establishes sincerity, keeps you focused on the customer’s needs, and naturally generates trust and openness. The customer will sense that you care about helping her solve fashion and quality decisions, not just selling her a product. Even though you want to make more profit and more sales, you will accomplish these goals more rapidly when you put the customers “wants” first. 

Do you want to know something important? When you can truly develop empathy for the person you are about to meet; it is nearly impossible to be impolite, discourteous or display a poor attitude. Every time you get up to help a prospective buyer, take a moment and reflect on what it must feel like to walk into your store and meet you! Would you buy from you? 

On the back side of empathy, there is such a thing as too much of a useful trait. Salespeople with too much empathy may lack confidence and become easily intimidated. We can be so sensitive to the wishes of the customer that we become overly sensitive of selling a product our prospect might not like. If we focus too much on empathy, our closing abilities may be weak. Empathetic salespeople often develop great relationships with clients, understand their needs, yet not have that inner hunger to push customers to that final decision to buy. You will usually recognize this when you find out your “new friend” has purchased a product that you sell—from someone else.

We need an ego-empathy balance to be fully successful in selling. Why is this? The relationship between empathy and ego is interactive. It is necessary to possess both quantities, each utilizing and reinforcing the other to fully harmonize the selling transaction. We must own the correct quantity of empathy to appreciate the wants and aspirations of the customer coupled with the precise amount of ego-drive to need and insure the sale. It takes a special balance to recognize the customer’s emotional responses, create appropriate solutions, be persuasive, and then ask for the order assertively. Salesmanship, after all, is not order-taking.

Most seasoned salespeople have experienced the dilemma of whether to tell the prospective customer what they want to hear in order to make the sale or to inform that customer of what they must know to be a long-term satisfied client. There is no doubt that in putting ourselves in another’s shoes, we must strike a balance between self and other. To truly benefit our prospect, we must sometimes be able to detach ourselves from a restricted point of view to offer the best solution. Integrity helps us align our actions with our values. The ultimate balance to this equation is to ask ourselves, “Are we doing both of us a service?” If not, we should reconsider our recommendations and our mindset. Good selling to you.