Many salespeople will never have heard of emotional intelligence. Yet, salespeople who have been coached in emotional intelligence competencies sell more. That’s the conclusion of numerous studies, and when you see the results from companies that have used emotional intelligence coaching as part of their sales training regimes, there can be no argument. And these studies go back a long way now, too. For example:
- At L’Oreal, salespeople selected on the basis of their emotional competency outsold others, and the company had a 63% lower turnover of staff who had been selected on this basis (Spencer & Spencer, 1993; Spencer, McClelland, & Kelner, 1997).
- A national insurance company found that its agents who were strong in five of eight key emotional intelligence competencies sold policies with a value of more than double the policies sold by agents weak in those competencies (Hay/McBer Research and Innovation Group, 1997).
- MetLife agents who scored high in ‘learned optimism’ sold 37% more life insurance in their first year than pessimists (Seligman, 1990).
- Financial advisors at American Express who completed emotional competence training grew their business by 18.1% compared to the 16.2% growth of those that had not undergone emotional competence training.
The importance of emotional intelligence to salespeople is undeniable. But what does it really mean to the salesperson in the field? What differences might being coached in emotional competencies make in the sales process?
Here we look at four specific examples of emotional intelligence competency in action.
Delayed gratification as a leader of prospecting results
If your sales team isn’t producing the leads from its prospecting efforts, it’s likely that they are suffering from a deficiency in delayed gratification. They expect results and sales quickly, and are not prepared to put in the hard yards to get there.
Salespeople who have developed this emotional competency understand that sales is often a long game. It takes time to build relationships and nurture trust. They’ll also prospect harder, knowing that prospecting is a part of the process of sales, and as such is a continual process.
The socially non-aware sales person
I’ve attended sales meetings where it appears I’ve heard a completely different conversation to the one the salesperson had with a prospect. Instead of showing empathy to the prospects problems, the salesperson launched into a monologue about the features of the product being sold. Half of which were not pertinent to the prospect.
Today’s clients aren’t sold to. They decide to buy. To enable this process to happen, the salesperson must be adept at putting themselves in the shoes of the client. They have to understand the issues, feel the pain, and then provide a targeted solution.
The emotional skill used here is social awareness: recognizing and understanding how others feel, what response is likely in any given situation, and being able to empathize. Without this skill, the prospect is likely to feel "pitched at."
A lack of assertiveness is a guaranteed waste of time and effort
One of the standard questions for a salesperson to ask a client is about their budget. Very often the response is something along the lines of “We don’t have one,” or “Put a quote together and we’ll assess what can be done.”
The salesperson takes the information they’ve gathered back to the office, and spends a day or two preparing a proposal. When they return, they’re told by the client that it costs too much. Clearly, the client had a budget.
Assertive salespeople will insist upon a budget, without which it will be impossible to put together a proposal. Non-assertive salespeople don’t want to appear over-aggressive. A good prospect will understand that a budget is a prerequisite to a proposal being made.
Self-aware salespeople sell better
Results are not simply about selling more, they are about selling better. During sales meetings, I’ve watched salespeople crumble under pressure. Desperate to make a sale, they allow their emotions to get the better of them and offer discounts, free upgrades, lifetime service guarantees, free on-site support, and so on. None of these are budgeted, and none agreed in-house. All increase animosity between sales and support staff, decrease margins, and put reputation at risk.
Self-aware salespeople control their emotions, stick to the game plan, and make the hard sales through intelligent use of soft sales skills.
Your journey to more sales starts with self-awareness
Self-awareness is the key that opens the door to developing the full gamut of emotional intelligence competencies. When you become self-aware, you can identify how you react to different situations. You can assess the impact those reactions have on yourself and others, and then evolve response per the situation. The result is better, bigger, and faster sales.
Our Integrity Selling Course will help your sales team onboard new skills, embed methods of identifying customer needs, and hone them to perfection. The result will be a high-impact sales team on an exponential sales curve. Contact us today, and discover how we could help your sales team to manage themselves, their prospects, and increase sales.