We’re all taught to play to our strengths. However, a strength overdone often becomes a weakness. Take empathy. In sales, empathy is extolled as a strength.
“Get into your clients’ shoes” “Understand where they’re coming from” “Understand their problems, fears, frustrations and what they might want better than they do”
All well and good. But there’s a dark side to empathy.
It’s when you end up taking your clients side and consistently act against your own or your employer’s best interests.
Over the years I’ve seen it play out in various ways.
A salesperson who consistently took the side of her clients when it came to pricing. She’d fight battles with her own organization to get better deals, lowering margins till they were almost non-existent.
Others who would drop everything to “service” a client – which often meant driving miles to pick up a piece of equipment to bring it back to base rather than simply organizing a courier. Wanting to be liked by their clients, these people would do virtually anything except their main role – which was to “sell”.
So rather than prospecting and bringing on new clients, they’d spend all their time turning up, having coffee and acting as “outsourced” employees for the client organization.
Once again completely against the best interest of their employer.
Now you might say, “Surely some counselling and training would get them to change.”
But it rarely if ever happens.
In my experience certain behavioural attributes are hardwired. Unless the individual wants to change and follows through, they’ll always act this way.
Which begs the next question. Should they be in this role? I’d say obviously not.
You need to employ people with the right attitude and beliefs from the start.