If a sales associate wants to be good at their job, they need to have a unique set of skills.
Yes, they need patience and the ability to multitask and keep track of several things at a time—from customers to phone calls to daily tasks.
But they should want to help others and create relationships with customers. The retail industry is geared toward making people’s lives better, so they need to have a desire to sell them the right product to improve their life.
Empathy is one skill that many people forget. An employee that’s empathetic can put themselves in a customer’s shoes and truly understand what they want.
In fact, there are three different types of empathy.
Cognitive is when you simply know how a person is feeling or thinking. You might know a customer is anxious or hesitant about a purchase—whether it’s because it’s their first time buying furniture or because they need to stick to a budget—but you keep your distance.
To really connect, you need emotional empathy, which is when you can sympathize with a person on a level where their emotions are almost contagious. Think about when you see someone stub their toe and you cringe because you can imagine their pain. That’s emotional empathy extending to physical sensations.
Finally, compassionate empathy helps you not only understand a person’s feelings and feel with them but also help them—which is key in the sales process.
That balance between cognitive and emotional empathy allows us to act without being overwhelmed or jumping right into a problem-solving process.
At the end of the day, we’re all people, so we need to interact like people. Sales are great short-term, but forming long-lasting relationships is what ultimately leads to success.