Can You Script Empathy?

Knowing exactly what to say in a moment such as this, where the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are being felt by teams and businesses worldwide can be extremely delicate.

On one hand, there’s plenty of business as usual going on all around us.  Prospects are buying, sellers are selling.

On the other hand, there is a massive amount of hurt, grief and distraction at play.  Entire industries have ground to a halt.  Protective financial strategies are impacting employees, vendors, supply chains and more.

Can you still sell in this environment?  Yes, absolutely.  However, selling with empathy needs to be a required and upfront component of your approach.

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It’s one thing to tell your sales team to “sell with empathy”, yet another to understand and figure out how to apply that in practice.  I think we’ve all seen examples (in our inboxes, TV commercials and elsewhere) of well-intended attempts at empathy that fall flat or sound just plain awkward.

And expecting your sales reps to know how to “sell with empathy” on their own isn’t fair to them, or to their customers and prospects.

The idea of scripting empathy sounds inauthentic, but in this moment I think we owe it to our customer-facing teams to give them some explicit guidance.

When making outbound calls, write out a voicemail script that your reps can use with some consistency.  Lead with empathy, not a pitch or ask.  A couple examples:

Hi THEIR NAME, this is YOUR NAME from YOUR COMPANY.  Just wanted to make sure you and yours are staying safe and healthy right now.  We’ve collected a set of resources with advice for companies in THEIR INDUSTRY to help get through this, if you’d like to see those let me know.  Stay safe and keep washing your hands!


Hi THEIR NAME, this is YOUR NAME from YOUR COMPANY.  No agenda today, just want to make sure you’re staying safe and healthy right now.  Working from home might be safe, but it can also get a little isolating.  If you want to talk about anything but business – food, sports, Netflix recommendations – I’m here for your afternoon diversion.  In the meantime, stay safe!

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If you reach someone live, start with the first two lines and ask “How have you been?” and let the conversation go from there.  No ask, no pitch.  Be human.

For emails, I highly recommend Andy Crestodina’s template for an empathetic email.   It’s short and easy to customize.

Sounds counterintuitive, right?  Scripting something that successfully delivers empathy?

In this case, and with the voicemail scripts above, I think it works.  And your sales team I guarantee will appreciate the guidance and specifics.

Have you written voicemail or email templates for your customer-facing teams (sales, customer service, etc.) to use?  I’d love to see examples (email them to me at and happy to share feedback based on what I’m seeing land successfully right now.

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