What Has Empathy Got To Do With It?

This morning, as I was on my way into work, I passed a woman in a minivan who was pulled over on the side of the road. It looked like she was getting a speeding ticket, as there was another police officer on a motorcycle next to them with his radar gun aimed at other cars coming that way. In a split second, I could imagine how this had ruined her morning. I imagined her calling to tell her husband, who would surely be mad. I imagined her frustration at being late to whatever she was on her way to. Perhaps she was on her way to school with her kids, and they had made her late by pitching a last minute fit, or needing to go back because of something they’d left. I’ll never know why she was late, how fast she was driving to get the ticket, or how much her ticket was, but I do know it was a frustrating thing to happen on a morning. That’s empathy. Empathy is defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”

So, what’s empathy got to do with B2B marketing? Why is Pardot talking about empathy and not marketing automation, lead generation and nurturing? Well, it’s simple. Empathy allows us to better understand our customers, better relate to those we’re trying to help, and it gives us context for that which we can offer genuine solutions to. As a marketer myself, I get the challenges and work of other marketers, and work daily to not only better sync with my own team, but our Sales Team, our Client Advocate teams, and others. Empathy helps me be better at this.

How can empathy help you and your team? There are three ways it can help you as you work to gain more leads and help Sales close more deals.

First, think about the pain points of your customers. Ideally you should be talking to your customers regularly, but your sales team can be another great source of information on your customers. Last week, our marketing team invited our sales team out for happy hour, and we had a great night of conversations about what we’re hearing from customers and the industry influencers. Personally, I had conversations with two of our sales development reps about the biggest challenges they hear from customers each day. I listened diligently as each one told me of the things they hear on a regular basis as they work to gain new customers. Empathy allowed me to relate to the challenges and goals of other marketers.

This leads me to the second way empathy helps.

Empathy allows us to understand better how what we do affects others. In a B2B organization, we have two customers: our marketplace, and our sales team. Our sales team is counting on us to help them fill their pipeline with leads, and it’s our job to help them meet their goals. Once we understand how our work connects with what they need daily, we can think of what we do from a different place, a place of context. Understanding the pain points and challenges of our internal sales team allows us to figure out exactly how our services can meet their needs, or where we should refocus our energy.

Lastly, empathy allows us to react accordingly. By working harder to create content that provides value to our customers and potential customers, we continue to position ourselves as thought leaders and subject matter experts. That helps to create better loyalty, and gives potential customers ease of mind knowing that we’re genuinely interested in helping them solve problems, not just selling them something they don’t need. When I can understand that I’m a marketer marketing to other marketers, I can better understand where they’re coming from. And when we listen to I other teams, I can know how to react to their challenges or their requests — even some I might have brushed off before as unimportant.

Empathy helps us to stop thinking of our customers as numbers, and allows us to focus on them as individuals with different needs for their businesses. Put a little bit of empathy back into your marketing campaign and you can certainly expect to see your results improve.