Why Emotional Intelligence Matters in Sales

Posted by Jill Konrath

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December 10, 2012

emotional intelligence in salesIf you're like most sellers, you've never heard about emotional intelligence. But every single day, it impacts your performance. That's why I interviewed Colleen Stanley, author of the hot new book: Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success. (Download a free chapter here.) I hope you enjoy it!

JILL: What prompted you to write a book about emotional intelligence for salespeople?

Colleen Stanley: Two colleagues who teach emotional intelligence encouraged me to explore how it helps salespeople achieve better results. It quickly became apparent to me that emotional intelligence skill training was crucial in closing the ‘knowing and doing’ gap.

Many salespeople know what to do. However, during stressful selling situations, they allow emotions to start running the sales meeting rather than using effective selling and influence skills.  

That's when you see non-productive selling behaviors occur like discounting, product dumping or writing ‘practice proposals’ for non-qualified prospects. Our clients recognize that soft skills do produce hard sales results. 

JILL:  I've seen that happen way too often. So it's all about dealing with the panic button?

Colleen Stanley: No, it's much more than that. It's your ability to identify, assess and control your own emotions and other's emotions. It has a direct impact on sales results. 

A simpler explanation is 'know thyself.' What are your hot buttons? What situations cause you to react or not act in a manner that serves you well personally and professionally?  And, it's about being wise regarding your prospect's emotions too so you can work better with them. 

Elevating your Sales EQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient) helps you sell bigger deals, in less time at full margin. 

(NOTE: Click here to take the free Sales EQ Quiz)

Jill: That sounds like it has some far-ranging implications. How about some more examples. 

Colleen Stanley: Sure. Here's one I see everyday related to the emotional intelligence skill of Assertiveness. A sales manager has trained and coached their sales reps to ask prospects for their budget before putting together a proposal.  

When salespeople do that, they often get responses like: "I'm not sure. We don't have one. Or, just put something together." Non-assertive salespeople feel like it's too pushy to tell prospects that they can't put together a solution without knowing the financial constraints. 

So they waste their own precious time writing a proposal only to have the prospect say, “It's too much money." The truth is, the prospect HAD a budget or they couldn't have told the salesperson it was too high.

On the other hand, salespeople who score high in assertiveness will explain to prospects that they don't write recommendations without a budget range. They understand they have the right to know whether the prospect is willing and able to invest in their services before putting time and energy into a solution.

Jill: So true. And so many salespeople don't realize that. Does emotional intelligence impact prospecting?

Colleen Stanley: Yes. Big time. Many sales organizations have established key performance metrics for business development. But what's the real reason the sales team isn't prospecting consistently? 

It can often be linked to an emotional intelligence skill called Delayed Gratification. Salespeople who score high in this skill are willing to do the work before they earn the reward.

They understand that prospecting is a continuous process not an event. They'll continue to prospect, even if they are not getting the instant reward of an appointment. 

Jill: Amen. What's one thing a person could do differently today to increase their emotional intelligence -- and ultimately, their sales?

Colleen Stanley: Schedule downtime and don't wait for society to reward you for it!  
We live in an environment where people really pride themselves on being busy. They're always connected and checking into cell phones, Facebook, email and who knows what else.  

Research shows that it's in the downtime that people gain more clarity. They get to think about the what and why behind their actions or inactions. It gives them the insight to be more disciplined in future interactions.

Jill: So are a lot of companies are using Emotional Intelligence these days?

Colleen Stanley: American Express, Avon, Loreal, MetLife, Medtronic, 3M, Motorola, Honeywell, Johnson and Johnson just to name a few that are incorporating it into their management and leadership training.

Emotional intelligence is still in its infancy for many sales organizations which is why we're excited to be leading the charge. Integrating emotional intelligence skill training and consultative sales training is a huge advantage over the competitor.

You have a sales team that knows how to manage themselves, read prospects better and overall are more enjoyable to work with.  

Jill: As sales leaders, that's what we all aspire to! Thanks so much for sharing your insights. And, if readers would like to learn more emotional intelligence, here's more on how to reach Colleen:

President Colleen StanleyColleen Stanley is president of Sales Leadership Development, a sales and sales management training firm. They're experts at integrating emotional intelligence skills with consultative skills to drive increased revenues, profits and happiness.

To learn more, visit www.SalesLeadershipDevelopment.com or call 303-708-1128.

Topics: Sales Books

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Jill KonrathJill Konrath is the author of three bestselling books, AGILE SELLINGSNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies. She's a frequent speaker at sales meetings and conferences. For more fresh sales strategies, download her free Prospecting Toolkit.



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