If you want to get someone to do something, you have to first get them to think it’s a good idea. And to do that, you have to understand how they think.

It’s called empathy, and it’s the ability to understand how others think and feel. To see the world through the eyes of someone else. To know what is and isn’t important to them. To truly realize what makes them tick.

When you understand your audience to this level, it’s a whole lot easier to inspire the action you are trying to create.

Whether you’re trying to get shoppers to buy a certain product, or voters to choose a particular candidate. Whether you’re working to get employees to act in a certain way, or to convince people to stop an unhealthy behavior. If you want or need someone to do something, you need to know more than just their wants and needs. You have to understand their mindset, their priorities, their desires, and their fears.

Even if you’re selling an industrial B2B product, and on the surface, the purchase decision looks like a cut-and-dry unemotional transaction, you are probably missing at least part of the story. Is the buyer currently frustrated with his current supplier? Is her boss really riding her case to find a better solution? How confident is he in knowing which product to choose? Or even how to use it? Is she worried about making the wrong decision? Is he more interested in picking a vendor or a partner?

These questions go way beyond features and benefits. They require you to think of your audience members as people, not as ledger line items or demographic statistics. They require you to talk with them, ask probing questions, and get beyond the surface.

Part of the secret is to just slow down and imagine what it must be like to be in their shoes. But it also requires research. Surveys can be helpful. But the real insights come from talking with your audience members. Asking them “why?” Getting them to lower their defenses and let you in on the way they really think…and feel. Learning what drives their decisions. All their decisions; not just their decisions related to your objective.

Once you really know what makes them tick, and put in the real effort to put yourself in their mindset, you can then understand what influences their choices. And what inspires their actions.

And empathy is just as important to inspiring your prospect as it is to influencing your salesforce. Just as crucial to retaining customers as it is to inspiring voters. It’ll even make it easier to get your kids to brush their teeth.

Do you know what makes your audience members tick? Are you sure you can inspire the action you want? How confident are you in your understanding of your prospects’ real motives? Can you put yourself in the shoes of your customers? Can your salespeople? We can help.