How the Mis-Illusion Culture is Destroying Business.

We all want to believe that others care about us. And not in that "drop everything" panicked attention that means the sky is falling.

We want to know that how we're feeling is a normal way to be feeling -- despite how crazy and irrational it might really be.

A feeling of connectedness.

At a subconscious level, we are constantly seeking reassurance that our emotions are normal. That any other person in our situation would be acting the exact same way that we are.

That's the case whether that emotion is fear or confusion or uncertainty or anger.  We want validation that we're not as completely crazy as we think we might be.

That's a void that smart sales and marketing messaging seeks to exploit.

That need for validation.

Validation is a big part of the modern sales process -- making buyers feel normal.

Sales organizations use a wide range of third-party tools to help prospects validate their feelings.

The goal is simple.  To help customers realize that their pain is not unique and that there is a solution to solve that problem.  And oh by the way, that solution is tested and proven.

To say it another way:

  1. It's a normal problem.
  2. It's a proven solution.

Most commonly this validation is created from email marketing.  Targeted email marketing.

In recent years, it's become popular to personalize these e-mail marketing messages.

Sometimes the first name of the prospect will be inserted into the message.  Other times relevant industry, business title, or geo-locational information will be inserted into the e-mail.

All done to create the illusion that the message was written specifically for the prospect.

But that's where things go wrong.

What started out as a good idea has spawned a culture where prospects are forced to prove their worth before sales people engage with them in meaningful ways.

In the past, a salesman was zealous enough about his products (and the possible commissions) to make his case to anyone who would listen.  And while there were (and still are) certainly inefficiencies with that model, the raw passion of the experience created massive momentum for attracting buyers while they were making their decision.

The problem in today's business culture is that we've reduced the empathetic sales process down to a series of numbers and scores.

Prospects don't even have names anymore.  They are simply a lead score in a complicated salesforce automation platform.

This lack of empathy in the sales process further decreases the trust that prospects have for salesmen in the selling process.

It makes buyers angry.

Prospects who do choose to engage in a semi-personalized messaging conversation often find themselves quickly disillusioned:

  • with a reply to emails that sales people don't answer or
  • with a click on a live chat button that isn't staffed or
  • With a call to a phone number that lands them in a switchboard from hell.

And while technology continues to help us explore new possibilities and create experiences for our customers that are more engaging, the idea that we can automate empathy is sadly misguided and horrendously damaging to the relationships we attempt to create with buyers.

Instead of putting in the effort to create the illusion around empathy, organizations need to teach their employees how to care about others.

We're creating enemies.

Disillusioned buyers aren't just unhappy buyers.  They're angry buyers with the motivation to strike out at the party that harmed them.

Is it any wonder that the last half decade of buyers are seeking more control over their purchasing process? Is it any wonder that customer loyalty is at an all time high low?

Creating the illusion of empathy is worse than simply ignoring prospects at all.

A better way is simply take care. A better way is simply to share.

A better way is to focus on what really matters.

Really loving your customer.