Barry, takes a week-long sales trip to New York to visit clients. He bounces around the city doing client visits while also juggling his full weekly schedule—meetings with the home office, an existing high maintenance client with demanding last-minute requests, and a challenging new lead who researches online, asks tough questions, and shops as many simultaneous options as she can.
To succeed across this wide array of challenges and people, Barry needs an equally wide array of skills: He needs to be able to switch rapidly between clients and adjust his approach along the way. He needs to manage his stress through busy, high-stakes weeks. He also needs to communicate clearly, be persuasive, inspire clients, and respond flexibly to changing client demands.
To train salespeople like Barry in this array of “soft skills” takes significant time and resources for his organization. The good news is that all these sales skills, and many others, can be boosted simultaneously by practicing one skillset: emotional intelligence (EQ). Emotional intelligence is your ability to recognize and understand emotions, and your skill at using this awareness to manage yourself and your relationships with others. Research shows that salespeople high in EQ outperform and outsell those low in EQ. Here are three research-backed reasons why EQ improves critical sales skills:
High EQ sales reps are better at interpersonal skills. To get through his week packed full of meetings and phone calls, Barry constantly relies on his interpersonal skills. He moves fluidly from a demanding client to a new lead to a long-time client who is affable, laid-back and just wants to catch up personally. Each client has their own needs, emotions, and style of communication, and it’s up to Barry to successfully create a positive outcome—whether that’s a sale, rapport-building, or even just inspiring some initial intrigue. In multiple studies on sales reps, high performers were found to be those who excelled at EQ. Like Barry, they read and manage emotions during client conversations, adapting their behavior to fit the situation and influence the buyer. The secret to their success lies in their ability to identify shared feelings between themselves and the buyer, then using these to move forward together.
High EQ sales reps are better at stress management. Leading up to his high stakes week of client visits, Barry is prone to feeling nervous and stressed. Instead of letting his nerves take over, he’s learned to remind himself of past successes. He tells himself that he often thrives under pressure. He just needs to be sure to stick to his usual self-care practices while on the road. He gets to sleep by 10:30, limits himself to just one coffee each morning, and sets aside an hour to exercise before dinner. It’s through his routine that he finds a positive rhythm and the energy to catch up on communications with the home office. This is thriving under pressure. Studies show that high EQ sales reps not only manage their stress more effectively, but they also report feeling less stressed than their low EQ counterparts. On top of that, high EQ people report feeling more positive emotions. This positivity, like Barry showed as he mentally prepared for his big week, is essential to sales reps as they navigate tough clients, tough weeks, and tough months.
High EQ sales reps are more adaptable and creative.When Barry sits down for dinner with a client hoping to close a big deal, the client almost immediately throws a big wrench in his plan. She shares that she’s going to wait three months for her new quarterly budget before she buys anything at all. Barry is upset and fears she won’t end up purchasing come three months from now. But, he recognizes that his future worries can interfere with this very moment. He takes a deep breath to set his worries aside, then asks her questions to learn more about her budget and how she intends to use it next quarter. This allows her to dream out loud and feel even more excited about the possibilities. By the time he leaves dinner, she has agreed to a substantially larger deal than before; he just needed to be patient. Where a low EQ sales rep might have pushed for early commitment in their fear of losing the sale, Barry was able to stay level-headed, see the bigger picture, and adapt his approach to meet the situation at hand.
From Insights to Action. “How you sell matters. What your process is matters. But how your customers feel when they engage with you matters more.” –Tiffani Bova
Perhaps the most important finding in emotional intelligence research is that it is a highly flexible skill. With practice, people who measure low in EQ can work to improve a specific EQ skill within six months to a year.
To learn more about emotional intelligence and TalentSmart’s EQ products and services, contact TalentSmart at 888-818-SMART or visit us at https://www.talentsmart.com/contact-us/.