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Talk about what they want and show them how to get it

You are experts, great at what you do, you've worked with incredible clients, maybe picked up and award or two. Spoiler: the people you are selling to don't really care about any of this. At least not in isolation.


People want the focus to be on them, their interests, their goals, their future – and how you can help them with it.

A book we return to again and again has some real gold on this. In How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie talks about why empathy is vital, not just for business success but success in our personal relationships too.

It’s nicely summed up in this quote:

“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.”

It’s like Atticus explains to Scout in another classic, To Kill A Mockingbird:

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb in his skin and walk around in it.”

How it helps in business

As Carnegie says:

“…you are interested in what you want. You are eternally interested in it. But no one else is. The rest of us are just like you, we are interested in what we want.”

We’re all selling something, but the truth is that people don’t want to be sold to. They do however want their problems to be solved.

Understanding how your customers mind works will help you make the best content, products, and services to serve them and solve their problems.

As Carnegie puts it: “Arouse in the other person an eager want”.

Talk about what they want and show them how you are the best placed to help them to get it. It’s not manipulation it’s understanding and showing the mutual benefit of a transaction.

How we can carry this through to personal relationships

When it comes to personal relationships it’s not about the ‘sell’ or the ‘transaction’, but empathy is key in all aspects of our lives.

When you know why people act as they do, you’ll be more understanding, and better able to communicate effectively.

And whether it’s getting your kids to brush your teeth, your friends to choose a favourite restaurant, or your partner to pick a holiday destination – if you want to persuade someone to do something, it’s always a good start to ask yourself – how can I make them want to do it?

Taking time to listen, reflect and understand the perspective of others is always time well spent, because as Carnegie says:

“Building strong relationships with others is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. The quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives.”