EPISODE 273: Microsoft Federal Sales Leader Javier Vasquez Explains How Sales Professionals Must Use Empathy as a Connection Tool and Not as Weapon

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EPISODE 273: Microsoft Federal Sales Leader Javier Vasquez Explains How Sales Professionals Must Use Empathy as a Connection Tool and Not as Weapon

JAVIER’S TIP TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “Two Words. Be Deliberate. We don’t have the water cooler or the coffee shop nowadays and we don’t have all these physical things that we’ve been used to working with our customers and our business partners. Reach out to them not asking for money or their business. I found this to be rewarding for myself and I found it to be a way to develop connection. If you’re in a geographic territory, it’s a muscle that you have to develop. Make sure you block off time throughout the week calling on your customers and just listen, and not with any intent. Don’t use empathy as a weapon. Use empathy as a tool to really see how they’re going and make sure that you connect.”

Fred Diamond: Today we’re talking to Javier Vasquez with Microsoft, he’s a sales leader on the federal team. We’ve had him before as a guest on the Sales Game Changers podcast. Javier, it’s great to see you again, you look great, it’s September 23, we’ve got 7 days until the federal fiscal year ends. It’s a big time for a lot of our listeners although I’m looking at the list here, a lot of our listeners don’t sell federal but they are B to B. Actually, we have some people from around the globe chiming in. First off, get started, how are things going in your organization and how are you doing as a sales leader right now, my friend?

Javier Vasquez: Interesting times we’re in, Fred, I tell you. When I hear that, “How’s it going, how are you doing?” it means something very different than it used to. It used to be just a way to intro a conversation but now you actually think of it as a statement of, “How are you doing mentally? How are you doing with all the challenges from COVID to the social unrest?” So I try to think about it in the context of, “How’s my family doing? How’s my team doing? How are my customers doing?” When I ask that question, I try to think about it in a more sincere manner around a conversation to check in. It’s become a very important question.

Let me actually answer the question for you, Fred [laughs]. I would say the move from work in office to work from home and so many folks on this call and others across the country working from home has created a whole new dynamic at home. We see a whole new set of strain with our families, with our customers as well and the two words I hear over and over again from customers to our business partners to my team are exhausted and hopeful. I’m sure a lot of you can relate in terms of the exhausted part, it’s just all the time now, we don’t have that windshield time or airplane time or frankly, sitting in the elevator for a minute or so time to recharge, so one after the other after the other. Then it turns around when I hear hopeful especially from the customer side because when this started kicking off, our customers were in a little bit of a trough.

A lot of our federal customers weren’t fully prepared at scale to work from home or execute from home and now as they’re really embracing technology and taking advantage of all the capabilities from us and our competitors and other folks in the market, it’s hopeful. Like, “I didn’t know I could do this.” This is something new, it’s actually even a little bit better than before so I think it’s hopeful and I think that really follows a pattern in terms of the way people are thinking as a result of COVID. When it first landed there was a lot of this, “It’ll be over soon”, we all did virtual happy hours, virtual this, really made fun, I don’t know how many times I saw my wife with a glass of wine with her friends in front of a Teams or the other guys’ stuff having virtual happy hours. Then became this reckoning in the summer like, “This is going to be a while” and now we’re coming out of it saying, “This is becoming more of a permanent behavior, a permanent work change.”

Folks are trying to structure it in a more permanent manner and thinking about it a little differently. The one thing I’ll say, Fred, before I talk about my sales organization’s health is that there’s still a lot of anxiety with a lot of our loved ones, coworkers so the one thing I would encourage you is as you talk to the folks that are important around you, really ask how’s it going. Understand they may have hidden anxiety they’re not sharing and I think that’s really important, I think there are a lot of people that are really struggling, so anything we can all do as a human community to help each other out.

From a sales organization I think what’s interesting is that going back to the overwhelmed and exhausted, we started to get smarter about how we help our employees deal with the new change.

Little simple things like we periodically declare an email moratorium, what that means is for a day we have no communication. We say no communications whether you’re the salesperson for an account all the way to the VP for Business. No communications, no expectations, it allows folks to do several things, they can use the time to recharge, they can use the time to do some training, they can use it for strategy, we just don’t have time in this world to really sit down and do deep strategy or deep thinking. It’s a way to take the digital pressure away for a day. But from a sales organization perspective and performance, we’re in a good spot, we are a cloud provider providing collaboration and infrastructure services. We’re lucky to be in a position that our customers really see a lot of value.

Fred Diamond: You service the federal government marketplace, I see we have some people logging in today who also service that. We talked about the question, “How are you?” and we’ve been doing webinars every single day almost from the week after the pandemic kicked in. We’ve seen obviously an evolution from what’s going on to, “Is this going to continue?” to now where this is pretty much how we have to operate so we’re spending a lot of time working with sales organizations to make them more effective right now. But the Federal customer, it’s an important customer who does a lot of very critical work for US citizens, off course it’s DOD, it’s civilian, it’s intelligence. Talk for a second or two about the ability to be empathetic with the federal customer. You didn’t mention the E-word, it’s come up a lot but I’m just curious, how have you worked with yourself or your team to provide a degree of empathy with a customer that’s typically head down? There’s rules, there’s regulations, there’s laws, there’s ways you can interact but they’re also human beings. Talk a little bit about how you’re doing that and how you’re instructing your team.

Javier Vasquez: Empathy is critical now. It’s listening and really listening. They’re people too, the old saying, “They put their pant legs on one at a time”, that’s true whether they are the CIO, the under-secretary, they still have to deal with the situation in a personal manner. As a result, it’s just empathy and listening, and listening for key words because one thing as leaders sometimes that we struggle with is saying I don’t know, “I don’t know how to deal with it, I’m still learning.” Creating that space as part of empathy allows them – they may not say it directly, but listen for those key words that sound like I don’t know and I need help. I think empathy is an absolute skill, I think we’re lucky, Fred that with Satya coming in as a CEO years ago, one of his core tenets was empathetic leadership and listening, being vulnerable yourself because the way to become more empathetic is to share things that make you vulnerable, make you uncomfortable.

That’s been real useful for our teams over the last years as we’ve gone through empathetic training, being vulnerable, listening, creating space for others to have ideas. It’s really become very useful during this time but what’s more important is we don’t want to use empathy as a weapon. It’s a valuable sales tool in a sense that it really helps you get to the core of what your customer challenges are and offer a solution back but we can’t weaponize it meaning that you use empathy to just get what you want. Real empathy is a two way street of extending emotions to each other. As a sales leader if you’d asked me two or three years ago if, empathy, listening and feeling the customer was super important, I’d be more focused on what are their business priorities and challenges. But in times like this, it is an incredible skill to really get traction with your customers and really help them accomplish their mission and their goals.

Fred Diamond: A lot of our sales professionals have gotten more of an understanding of the human side, but we do spend a lot of time with process. I’m looking at some of the people who are watching today’s show, we have dozens of people from around the globe and these are from some extremely large and successful companies where process is a huge part, but we’ve all learned over the last couple months that there’s other angles of that as well. Javier, what are your priorities right now? Again, it’s seven days before the end of the Federal fiscal year. For people who are listening today who don’t know, the United States federal government fiscal year ends September 30th, a lot of the budget gets spent so a lot of companies work with their customers to ensure they get what they need before the end of the fiscal year. What are your priorities right now? What’s the main thing that you’re focusing on and you’re leading your sales team?

Javier Vasquez: We’re so close to the end of the government fiscal year, we are really focused on execution. We’ve got a bunch of orders and some of this is just very process-driven but I think it’s really important to make sure we get the orders in, make sure that we get the budget spent for the customer because they’d lose it and make sure that we actually deliver value. We’re really heavy into internal execution phase with our customer, our reseller partners, our advisory consultant partners so really making sure that we get execution. Frankly, if our sales folks haven’t built the value proposition, it’s not going to happen. Every once in a while you get a blue bird where you get somebody that orders 5 or 600 surface devices or something at the end of the year but that’s really not a value prop, that’s just someone trying to spend money. For us it’s execution, making sure we get everything done and we know there’s a lot of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s there.

What I’m really thinking about not just getting through this week is for us, we’re in fiscal year Q1, our fiscal quarter 1. For us it’s looking at Q2 through Q4 and looking at what the budget challenges are – we know we went through that whole rigmarole right now with congress – election cycle and something that’s a little bit of a new dynamic and we’re hearing from some of our customers: the holidays. In previous years, the holidays were a very quiet time, folks went physically away and it’ll be interesting to see how the holiday period changes because it’s very difficult for many people to really go away. What I’m hoping is they truly unplug for our customer’s sanity’s sake, as much as anyone else they truly unplug. I’ll be curious to see if folks end up doing more business or they really, truly unplug for the holidays. That’s a big piece of it.

The second kind of element that we’re really starting to see is we’re starting to see in the DC area at least that some of the schools are starting to slowly make their way going back to in-person. That’s a leading indicator, I would assume that we’re going to see some businesses and government organizations start to slowly return to office so for us, the things that I’m working on and thinking with my team and the extended team is how do we help them return to work safely? How do we make sure that the health is paramount, that they’re recording what they need to do to make sure when they’re in their offices they have safe spaces? We’re still working through that, we’re working with all sorts of interesting partners such as Steelcase, such as Insights, they’re doing all sorts of really interesting, creative things with AI and location tracking. All sorts of things that you probably see like the NFL doing, for instance, to really make sure that as the government workers, as our employees return to work safely they can be productive and not anxious about getting sick themselves.

Fred Diamond: Javier, I want to ask you a question. One of the main themes that we’ve heard over the course of the daily webinars that we’re doing for sales leaders and their teams is the fact that you now need to be on the front end of bringing solutions to your customers. You really need to know what the customer’s challenges are now, like #rightnow with all due respect to our friends in Van Halen. We’re saying #rightnow because it’s not like you said before, “Where do you want to go in 3, 5, 7 years?” even with the government customer. It’s how can we get through right now to service our customer or the citizen? You guys have been on the front edge of what customers need 2, 3, 4, 5 years down the road and when this happened you guys were ready to go to bring solutions, but not everybody is. I want to talk a little bit about what some of your suggestions are for the sales professionals out there on how they can also get ahead of the curve. Again, this is Microsoft but what should a sales professional be doing? One of the key words that comes up a lot is preparation but give us your insights on how these people watching today, listening to the podcast can be so much more valuable to the customer. They’re not looking for 5-7 year solutions, they’re looking for September-October-November solutions.

Javier Vasquez: First, Fred you get one up, though for mentioning Van Halen, it was my favorite teenage band so thank you for that.

Fred Diamond: [Laughs] you’re welcome.

Javier Vasquez: I think you mentioned preparation. Whatever organization you work for, you have an incredible set of assets to bring to bear. How does that map to what the customer needs right now? We saw the same behavior after 9/11, we saw it after the ’08 financial crisis, they don’t have time to go execute on these long-term plans but they need to do things now. What’s interesting – I’ve seen this in the government space, I was in the state and local business as well for a while – is that when you have situations like this, it is an opportunity to reframe the conversation with customers to solve their problems.

Obviously a big winner in this pandemic is anyone that had remote tools, remote work, remote security, provide that but that’s just phase 1. What’s really clear is they still have business processes to work through and some of that equipment and process is sitting on premises and they can’t get to it or it’s very difficult to get to. As you’re preparing your discussion with the customer, almost make it personal. You’re working from home as well, most likely, what is it that you struggle with in terms of working with your company, organization or business partners out there? They’re going to have similar problems as well so being prepared to mapping it to what they need right now. Right now, if you think about all the things that a government organization needed to do every day that we just never thought of because it just operated. There’s personnel, every day there’s HR, they’ve got to work through people, there’s actually budgeting, there’s actually executing  their mission, there’s reporting, there’s just so much of the day-to-day of government that they’re struggling with today. We know some of our government organizations are still relying on paper processes so tell you what, if you’re DocuSign, you’re in a great space right now [laughs] I say DocuSign in terms of digital signatures coming all over the place. That’s not an endorsement or a stock tip, but it’s just amazing to me that it’s moving so quickly onto digital transformation.

To answer your question, it’s preparing, it’s making sure you know what the customer needs right now and trying to put yourself in their shoes. Your scenario may be very similar to what they’re going through right now so making sure you can map your experience to theirs to try to drive success.

Fred Diamond: We have some questions coming in, Javier so let’s get to them. We have a question from Rick in Maryland, obviously the DC region. What’s been the biggest positive surprise that’s come up for you, Javier? Or something you’re most proud of. Again, there’s been good things during the pandemic that have happened, your wife has discovered wine like you mentioned, as a lot of people have. Seriously, from a sales perspective, what are some of the positive things that have come out of this?

Javier Vasquez: One thing I would say is most positive, something that I’m most proud of, our people in our organization. I’m proud of the sales industry in the government, I see this new focus on listening and being deliberate with customers, listening and helping their mission. I’m really proud of the work they’re doing despite everything that’s going on and I’m proud that they’re using that listening skill and being deliberate with their customers in terms of engaging with them. I’m also proud of how our team has responded to the social unrest that’s going on in the country and that impacts our customers directly being in the DC area, we’re very much in the throes of all of this. I’m really proud of how they’re handling it, listening and understanding what that means individually to each of our customers because that impacts them in a very deep and meaningful way.

I’m really proud of our customers and frankly, as an American I’m just so proud that despite this, we are still getting retirees their checks, we are still providing women and infant children payments to the states to help folks that are in need. I’m so proud of the military still making sure we live in a safe world even with all of this going on, I’m really proud of that. One element of that that locally I’m especially proud of is you’ve probably heard about the Defense Department, they went very quickly from, “We’re going to work in person in the facilities” to giving the opportunity for millions of the service men to work remotely. I’m really proud that in a very quick period of time we were able to get several million service men and service women online working collaboratively using our tools across the board broadly in ways they never could before. That was something I was proud of and as part of that, I love that these situations bring out the best in people whether it’s us or the other folks around the beltway, that we just dig in and do what’s right for the country.

We worry about monetization, we worry about what it means to the bottom line leader but we do what’s right first, make sure we have a functioning government and then go from there, prove our value.

Fred Diamond: We have some more questions coming in. A question here is, “How do I manage my younger professionals that are struggling?” That question comes in from Tim in the DC region, thanks, Tim. Interesting question, that’s come up a bunch of times too. You’ve managed a ton of people in your sales leadership career, you’ve managed a lot of people who are senior, a lot of people have been with Microsoft for a long time, it’s a great place to go that not a lot of people like to leave. But there’s also a lot of young people who come into the sales organization as well. This is a question we frequently ask so thanks, Tim for the question. How are you coaching your seasoned professionals and how are you coaching your junior professionals as well? Let’s start with the junior and then let’s go to the senior.

Javier Vasquez: I’ve hired probably about a dozen folks right around when the pandemic began and I just had a one-on-one with those folks that I hired this morning. I was talking to her and she was like, “I visited my customer once and then everything shut down.” What’s interesting coming at it when we’re talking to the juniors, when you’re talking to folks still young and newer in career, for me at least we really focus on, “Let’s get the basics done. What’s the proposition going to the customer? Let’s go make phone calls, let’s walk the chain.” Also, what’s really big for us is pairing them with a mentor, a peer mentor, someone that’s more experienced or someone that is familiar with the customer to help them get kick-started. The great thing about newer-in-career younger folks is unlike us senior folks, they have less artificial road blocks and offering suggestions and solutions.

I’m proud that some of our newer-in-career folks, some of the things they’ve proposed to government organizations have become production quality. It’s really interesting to see because they’re not bound by the things that I would be bound by, they live and grew up in a digital native world and really being able to say, “We’re thinking about this wrong, let’s not think laptop, let’s think mobile device. Let’s not think call-in service, let’s think about preemptively using AI to think about what they would need next.” To me hearing those is like, “My goodness, you are 24-25 years old, amazing.” It’s really great. What they don’t have necessarily is the classic experience and understanding of organizational structure to really be effective, so I think pairing those two together is super useful.

On the seasoned professional it’s different. I grew up in an era where a lot of how I built relationships was face to face, was breaking bread, was having a glass of wine and really understand both my business partners and my customers. “Let’s talk, what’s going on?” getting to know a little better what makes them tick. Not having that has really forced me and other senior sellers to reevaluate how we work with our customers. If you already have an existing relationship it’s easy, it is more difficult with new relationships and new territories so once again, there’s going to be some common themes, Fred. I’m sure you’ve heard from all the leaders that have come on your call, but prepare. Do research, what’s going on? Then when you do get onto a call with them, really be genuine. “How’s it going? What’s going on?”

Find a point of commonality because people want to talk, people want to talk about the challenges they’re personally feeling and that actually shapes and puts perspective on how they’re approaching the problems as well. Just to wrap it up, what’s great about it from a senior seller perspective is when you couple the two together, the senior says, “I never thought of it that way, that is different. That may not fly but I’m willing to give that a go.” It’s a really healthy pairing to have someone that’s newer in career with a more seasoned sales professional.

Fred Diamond: What are your expectations? You talked about some things they could be doing but what are your expectations for your senior people and for your junior people? Again, this is Microsoft, you guys do obviously billions and billions of dollars every year with the federal government as well. You began your fiscal year about a month or two ago, now the federal fiscal year is ending. What are some of your expectations from your younger people? The ones who just started, they don’t know organizational development like you talked about. What do you expect from them right now?

Javier Vasquez: If you’re struggling to make inroads in a customer – and this holds true in a non-pandemic situation as well – figure out what those sensors are that help you get the customer. Have a rich collection of business partners out there, there are communities like IAC, there are communities out there like Women in Technology, others where you can network and start to really draw upon, “Where are those connection points with my customer and how can I help understand what truly the unarticulated need is for the customer?” For the juniors, the newer-in-career folks, that’s an area that I would say, “Here’s the expectation.” I don’t have to do that as much with the senior community, it’s more about, “What’s in your world of work? How do we approach this? What are the things that we can do in a different way?” and pose something differently to them.

It’s funny you bring up the word expectation. You would think that in a pandemic situation the expectations for growth would let up, they haven’t. There are still strong expectations for growth and I’m sure other sellers are going through the same thing as well. It really demands that we become creative in terms of how we approach business. We still have a fiscal responsibility and fiduciary responsibility to the bottom line and we have to be creative about it. As I mentioned, like 9/11, financial crisis 2008, they create new opportunities and opportunities for our customers to think differently so I think it’s important for all of us to say, “What new opportunities come up that we haven’t thought of before?” We have an imperative fraction that we didn’t have before, what can we do to actually map those together?

Fred Diamond: A question comes in, “What are you doing, Javier, to stay fresh and to grow?” Again, you’re with Microsoft, you’ve been there for a long time. If you don’t keep growing, you’re going to be roadkill in a company like that, some of the most successful sales professionals have come from Microsoft. What are you doing to keep yourself fresh, growing and learning? You’ve had a great career there, you’re at the GM level, you’re doing a lot of great stuff.

Javier Vasquez: It goes back to this whole pivot, we had junior sellers, some of the things they bring to market. I also try and work very much with our technical community, I know it sounds a little bit odd but what’s really interesting is those communities are talking to our customers all the day about trying to solve problems. You would be surprised what types of patterns you find coming out of that, so having a fresh conversation with the customer and it really helps you go back to that unarticulated need. I’m not going to say a customer name here, but we had a customer who’s moved heavily to Teams online and they quickly realized, “Now that I’m not confined by my firewall or the bounds of my corporate network, my network is the internet.

I have to be much smarter about how I manage who has access to what, when and where and using all those qualities at the same time.” Because if someone is legitimate in their identification but is remoting in from China, that’s probably a good sign that that’s not really them. For us, something that’s really grown as an opportunity is they’ve got the collaboration capabilities, how do we layer security onto that? How do we layer much more reporting and a capability for us to be dynamic with the customer and provide real-time security information and real-time authentication information? Once again, not something I would have dived into until we’re talking to the technical community and they shared with me, “This is something the customers are asking in tremendous amounts.” I go back to my sales organization and say, “Here are some plays I think we should run, here are some conversations we should drive with our customers because I think it’s a new opportunity” and it’s borne out that way as well.

In order to keeping fresh, challenge yourselves by talking to new parts of the organization you don’t necessarily go deep with because you’ll get new insight.

Fred Diamond: We have another question that comes here from the audience and this question comes in from Debbie, Debbie is also in the DC area although I know we have people listening around the globe. The question is, “How have you changed, Javier, as a sales leader in the past few months?” Obviously the pandemic we’ve talked about but also there’s been a lot of social things that have happened as well and have caused companies to be more focused on inclusion and other factors to grow the organization, especially with our customers as well. We’ve got time for two more questions, the first is how have you changed as a sales leader over the past few months?

Javier Vasquez: For the first time in a long time I have really exercised the muscle around consistent empathy. What I mean by that is really being empathetic and practicing empathy all the time. Just to give you a little personal insight, years ago I took one of these 360’s, “What are the different attributes of a leader and the personality traits?” I scored very poorly on empathy and I’m a little surprised at that because I feel like I’m a jovial person, I seem to interact with people really well. I read through that, came home, went to my most trusted confidant, my wife and I said, “Honey, I got this survey and I scored very poorly on empathy.” What she told me – which is kind of funny – is, “Of course you have no empathy, you’re the ‘but anyway’ guy.” “What do you mean I’m the ‘but anyway’ guy?” “Well, you’re the guy that says something like this. Your best friend could tell you that his dog’s passed away and you’re like, ‘oh, that’s really sad, but anyway are we going to watch the game this weekend?'”

As I’ve been working on empathy and the skills, part of being empathetic is really exposing vulnerability for yourself and really just listening without judgement, just listening, practicing that skill has become important. I’ve had an incredible amount of time to practice that skill these past 6-7 months both with the COVID situation and people having folks that are getting sick, then their children at home all the time or parents moving in, “I want to see my parents but I’m afraid I’ll get them sick.” We pivot now with the social unrest and the social justice movement that’s out there, that’s really opened my eyes once again from an empathetic perspective putting myself in other people’s position.

I just never really considered it that way and I think it’s important for all of us, regardless of what your political point of view is, is try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes for a little bit and try to understand without judgement. I found that to be helpful. We have a long way to go as a country, I have a long way to go in my development as well but the first step is recognizing, “I need to do better at listening.” What’s changed the most is that I’ve absolutely exercised the muscle of empathy repetitively, I feel like for the first time in a long time I really get it versus what it means from words on a page. I think it’s an important skill in these times for us to be successful as leaders, frankly successful in your personal life and of course successful in our jobs making sure that we can be aligned and be empathetic to our customers.

Fred Diamond: Rich says, “I’m also the ‘but anyway’ guy as well” so thanks for that, Rich. I’m thinking about myself too, am I the ‘but anyway’ guy? It’s interesting because if you think about it, the type of company that you’ve worked for a large part of your career is a very aspirational company. Nothing gets in the way, it’s a very driven organization, I’ve worked with so many great Microsoft sales professionals and I’ve worked with a lot of partners over the years. The reason why Microsoft has been one of the five or six most successful companies of the last hundred years is because of that type of attitude of, “Nothing’s going to get in our way” and that’s nice, let’s keep going. Along those lines, we do have one more question and after this question I’m going to ask you for your final action step. We like to get an action step every day and this is probably the most asked question that you’ve ever gotten in your Microsoft career. “Have you ever met Bill Gates?” That question comes in from Sherry and Sherry is in New York City. Hi, Sherry, thank you.

Javier Vasquez: Okay, Sherry I’m going to share a very funny story with you all. This is me being vulnerable, so yes I have met Bill Gates in several times during business context but the first time I “met” Bill Gates, I was in Redmond, Washington and I had two separate customers we were doing executive briefings for. You can imagine, the conference rooms are around the corner from each other so I was popping in from one to the other and sometimes I was running between the two a little bit. I’m in a conference room and I’ve got to really make it to the other one in time so I’m running, I go round the corner and without looking, I knock somebody over. Who is it? Bill Gates. Now, he didn’t completely fall over, he stumbled back a little bit and I am petrified. Here’s Bill Gates and I’m like, “I’m sorry…”

We use these internal nicknames, Bill G was his, mine is Javier VA. So, “I am really sorry, Bill G” and he was like, “No big deal, no worries.” What made it even more interesting or a little bit more petrifying for me was I looked who was standing next to him, it’s Tom Brokaw. If you remember, a news anchor from years ago, he’s interviewing him for a special that aired a few months later. I wasn’t part of the special or anything else but absolutely petrified that my first interaction with Mr. Gates was nearly knocking him on his behind.

Fred Diamond: Javier Vasquez, I want to thank you so much for all the great content. I want to thank everybody who listened here, if you’re listening to the Sales Game Changers podcast, thank you so much. Javier, like we said, give us an action step. Give us something that people watching today’s webinar or listening to the podcast in the future can do today to be more successful as a sales professional.

Javier Vasquez: Two words: be deliberate. What I mean by that is we don’t have the water cooler nowadays, we don’t have the coffee shop, we don’t have all these physical things that we’ve been used to working with our customers and our business partners. What I would encourage you to do is be deliberate in reaching out to them and reach out to them not asking for money or their business, just check in on them. I found this to be rewarding for myself and I found it to be a way to develop connection. For folks that have lived or worked in national organizations, this probably is a little bit easier because you’ve had to do that.

Folks that have been in a geographic territory, it’s a little bit of a muscle that you have to develop. If there’s one thing that you can do in these times is be deliberate, make sure you spend time, block off time in your calendar, block off time throughout the week, go spend some time calling on your customers talking to them and just say, “Hey, how’s it going?” Just listen, not with any intent, don’t use empathy as a weapon. Use empathy as a tool to really see how they’re going and make sure that you empathize.

Fred Diamond: Stop using empathy as a weapon, that’s very powerful. We’re going to do an article on that, that’s such a great idea. Once again, thank you if you’re watching today’s webinar or if you’re listening to today’s Sales Game Changers podcast. Thank you again so much. Javier Vasquez from Microsoft for the great insights, have a great day close to the fiscal year and a great start to the new Microsoft fiscal year as well. Thank you so much.

Javier Vasquez: Thank you.

Transcribed by Mariana Badillo

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