Redefining Sales: From "How to Sell" to "Why They Buy"

Empathy in Sales unlocks Why We Buy – The Empathic Sales Approach

Enter the Empathetic Sales Approach: A shift from traditional methods to one that prioritizes understanding the customer's needs, desires, and pain points.

Oct 2023

In a world littered with sales pitches, you will stand out just by prioritizing understanding over persuading. To truly excel in the modern sales landscape, you must pivot from the traditional tactics-focused approach to one of deep empathy and understanding.

To answer what the Empathetic Sales Approach is we’ll present a synthesis of Chris Voss Tactical Empathy and the Practical Empathy proposed by Seth Godin.

Our approach emphasizes a strategic, empathetic approach to sales that aligns with modern business values and customer-centricity.

Redefining Sales: From "How to Sell" to "Why They Buy"

Traditionally, salespeople have focused on strategies and tactics to push products or services to potential customers. But it leads us nowhere in a reality where customer empowerment is at an all-time high and brand loyalty can be fickle.

So the question for today's sales professional is not just about mastering the art of selling but understanding the science of buying.

Enter the Empathetic Sales Approach: A shift from traditional methods to one that prioritizes understanding the customer's needs, desires, and pain points.

The Traditional Approach asks "How Do I Sell You This?"

For decades, sales strategies have been built around the question: "How do I sell you this?" This perspective, while valid, is inherently self-focused.

This approach often emphasizes the tactics – the methodologies, scripts, and techniques designed to convince customers. While these methods can lead to conversions, they often prioritize immediate sales over long-term relationships.

So to become successful we have to forget “short-term gains” and put Empathy for our Customers over “Sales tactics”.

The Paradigm Shift answers "Why Do You Buy This?"

By shifting the focus from selling to understanding buying motivations, we open a door to a more profound and sustainable sales strategy.

This is not about the surface-level needs all of us have.

This is not about understanding the immediate needs of the customer.

This is about delving into your customers deeper motivations, desires, and aspirations.

Stepping into the Customer's Shoes

The essence of this new sales philosophy is empathy – but not just in the traditional sense. It's about

Deep Analysis: Truly understanding the problem from the customer's perspective, sometimes even more deeply than they do.

Building Trust: When customers feel that you genuinely understand and prioritize their needs, trust is naturally established.

Long-Term Relationship Building: With trust and understanding as the foundation, sales evolve from one-time transactions to sustainable, long-term relationships.

Study why you buy, not how to sell

If you aspire to lead in this new era of sales, the challenge is clear: Study why you buy, not how to sell to you. By doing so, you're not just selling a product or service; you're building connections, trust, and long-lasting relationships.

That’s basically what we all want and that’s why selling is human.

For those interested in diving deeper into the topics of understanding your customer's motivations and needs. Let’s explore more comprehensively Tactical and Practical Empathy, emphasizing their importance in the context of modern sales and customer-centricity.

Tactical and Practical Empathy

In the transformative realm of sales, where transactions are evolving into relationships and pitches into conversations, empathy stands out as the most valuable strategy.

While the term "empathy" is often used in broad strokes, thought leaders like Chris Voss and Seth Godin offer more nuanced, actionable interpretations—Tactical Empathy and Practical Empathy.

As Chris Voss suggests, tactical empathy is about recognizing and understanding the customer's emotional and logical drivers without necessarily mirroring them.

Drawing from Seth Godin's philosophy, practical empathy is about walking alongside the customer, understanding their challenges, and being a step ahead in offering solutions.

Tactical Empathy: Deep Emotional Insight (Chris Voss's Perspective)

Emerging from the high-stakes and high-pressure world of hostage negotiations, Voss's concept of Tactical Empathy is rooted in the world of life-or-death communication.

Voss's Tactical Empathy offers a profound understanding of the emotional landscapes of interactions.

Understanding, Not Mirroring

Tactical Empathy isn't about feeling the emotions of the other party; it isn't about feeling sorry for someone but deeply understanding them beyond beyond surface level. Tactical Empathy is a deep dive into understanding their emotional and logical drivers, about about recognizing motivations, fears, and desires.

Strategic Emotional Navigation

By understanding these emotional drivers, a salesperson can tailor their approach, aligning their pitch with the emotional and logical needs of the potential customer. Tuning in to the emotional state makes a pitch more resonant.

Building Emotional Trust

By demonstrating a genuine understanding of the customer's feelings, a foundation of trust is established, leading to more open and productive conversations.

Verbal Acknowledgment involves recognizing and verbalizing the emotions of the counterpart. This can disarm defenses and build trust.

Practical Empathy: Aligning with the Customer's Journey (Seth Godin's Perspective)

Godin's interpretation of empathy is about deep customer understanding. His concept of Practical Empathy is rooted in the art of marketing and the essence of brand storytelling.


It's about seeing the world from the customer's perspective, understanding their journey, challenges, and aspirations.

Practical Empathy is about aligning with the customer's journey, understanding their pain points, aspirations, and uncertainties.

Empathy is walking alongside the customer on their journey.

Anticipatory Insight

Practical Empathy means being a step ahead, anticipating the challenges or reservations a customer might have, and addressing them proactively.

Empathy is about anticipatory problem-solving. It's about being a step ahead, anticipating challenges or questions the customer might face and addressing them proactively

Building Bridges

Godin's empathy is about finding common ground, connecting the customer's needs with the solution being offered. It's not about changing their worldview but fitting into it.

Empathy is about positioning solutions. By deeply understanding the customer's journey, you can position your product or service as a solution that fits seamlessly into your customer's narrative.

Tactical and Practical Empathy in Sales

The convergence of Tactical and Practical Empathy creates a powerful sales strategy. While originating from different domains, both forms of empathy have profound implications for sales.

Holistic Customer Understanding

By combining emotional insights with an understanding of the customer's journey, salespeople can offer solutions that resonate on multiple levels. This deep customer profiling allows for a comprehensive understanding of the customer, from their emotional state to their practical challenges.


At the heart of both Tactical and Practical Empathy is trust. Whether it's through verbal acknowledgment or proactive problem-solving, the goal is to build a relationship of trust with the customer.

From Transactions to Relationships

This dual-empathy approach transforms sales from mere transactions to genuine relationships. Customers feel understood and valued, leading to long-term loyalty. Empathy is the compass that guides interactions. and drive successful outcomes.

Adaptive Communication

Armed with insights from both Voss and Godin, sales professionals can navigate conversations adaptively, switching between tactical and practical empathy as the situation demands. By internalizing both concepts, you can elevate your interactions, forge bonds of trust and ultimately deliver unparalleled value.

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