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Skills for Sales Sherpas, with David J.P. Fisher [Episode 715]

David J.P. Fisher, sales expert, keynote speaker, and author, joins me on this episode.


  • How does empathy fit into selling? David gives the context of empathy in sales conversations and in the client’s point of view. Andy cites Paul Bloom’s book. Against Empathy, on rational compassion.
  • Very successful sellers “get it” without having to “live it” with the customer. You have to have a dispassionate approach to guide the buyer through their journey.
  • Andy speaks of curiosity and listening to understand. In Humans Are Underrated, Geoff Colvin quotes an Oracle executive: “Empathy is the critical 21st-Century skill.”
  • David contrasts processes with empathy. Avoid using false familiarity with a customer. Empathy does not make you a close friend. Ask several follow-up questions to understand what a situation means for your prospect.
  • Empathy does not mean extending discounts!
  • The buyer needs to feel sincerity, authenticity, and empathy from you, in order to trust you. Empathy stems from listening. Be curious about people. Andy blames bad parenting for lack of skills. David includes bad schooling.
  • Andy recalls a point from Anthony Tjan’s point from Good People. Andy had difficulty selling during a time when he was having difficulties in his personal life.
  • Be intentional about your empathetic skills. Be as human with your prospects as you are human at home. Always ask the next question and take notes. “What does ‘X’ mean to you?” “What effect does that have on you?”
  • Managers, debrief your salespeople after their conversations, especially after no-sales. “Why didn’t you get the sale?” Ask, “Why?” again. “What else?” and “Tell me more.” The salesperson will then ask the prospect.
  • Asking open-ended questions forces you to listen and understand. You should have a process but it should be different every time because of the answers. David suggests it should be modular, not linear.
  • It’s your responsibility to cultivate human selling skills. Skills provide you with the best questions to ask based on the responses you receive. David notes the LinkedIn 2018 Emerging Jobs Report. People skills are the most critical.
  • People think hard skills are more important to their future success. Technology will not solve their deficiencies. “Master the art of being more intensely human.” — Geoff Colvin