Following on from last week’s post, I want to look in more detail at the concept of Emotional Intelligence, an attribute many people pride themselves on having and one I believe is a crucial contributor to the success of my coaching and training sessions and also in my approach to sales.
One of the many training sessions I hold is on emotional intelligence for sales people, helping them to utilise this attribute in a positive way. Great salespeople are experts at recognising the emotional responses of their customers during conversation and responding appropriately, this is why emotional intelligence is one of the four areas I’ll be covering in my upcoming Bitesize Training in Manchester.
There have however been occasions when my own emotional intelligence has let me down. I look back with some discomfort on the sales meetings that didn’t quite go as I had hoped and certainly my immediate reaction to those situations was not always a very emotionally intelligent one.
1. Initially I would typically focus on what the other party had done wrong, and why the negative outcome I was experiencing was their fault and not mine.
2. I would then realise that the fault invariably lay with me, albeit this was an uncomfortable realisation and a conclusion I was sometimes slow to accept.
In my experience as a sales person, and having watched many others in action, the best sales people are like social chameleons. They have an ability to observe and understand the preferred style of their customers and are able to flex their own style to collaborate for mutual gain.
There are three assets that are crucial for sales people to utilise in the sphere of emotional intelligence, these are ego, curiosity and care.
Ego – defined as a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance. We all have an ego and some of us have a larger ego than others. Ego is important because it supports our sense of confidence and allows us to believe in our own competency, this helps build our credibility in any given field of endeavour. I know that I would rather work with a salesperson who is credible and confident, however in the heat of the sales meeting with the customer, I have found that it’s best to try and park my ego at the door rather than allow any overconfidence or intellectual jousting to get in the way of truly listening to the customer and allowing their ego some space to breathe. Anything a sales person can do that sincerely supports the ego and status of the customer will invariably result in better outcomes for both parties.
Curiosity – is a fabulous human trait and some of the most interesting people I have met have a strong sense of curiosity that they nurture and demonstrate almost effortlessly. These are the people who ask you loads of questions and listen patiently to your answers, and who make you feel good when you’re in their company. They don’t ask these questions through some sense of duty, or even for personal financial gain, but because of the knowledge they gain and the strong relationships they build. The benefits to sales people are clear and yet some of us lose our curiosity and fall into the trap of the “tell sell”. We sales people are encumbered by the curse of knowledge; the knowledge we have of our own product and solutions and we are so keen to share this knowledge with potential customers that we forget the simple truth that it is better to be interested in our customers and their challenges rather than attempting and often failing to be interesting about our own product and solutions. Share of voice is important in the sales meeting and we should encourage prospective customers to have by far the greatest share, the only successful way of achieving this is to be continuously and sincerely curious.
Care – in our busy, distracted and pressured lives it is all too easy to focus on ourselves to the detriment of others. I know this is true of my own life and not just in my sales career. It takes a conscious effort to get out of your own bubble, to suppress your own self-interested goals and targets and to work more collaboratively with others for mutual gain. To be successful in sales you have to genuinely care about the other party’s win, you have to be curious enough to understand what the win looks like for them and then you have to care enough to work with them to make that happen. We know from Maister, Green and Galford’s book, The Trusted Advisor, that nothing kills trust quicker than overt self-interest. If there is no trust then there is no chance of a positive relationship or outcome.
In summary . . .
When sales people park their ego at the door, retain their curiosity and truly care about the customers and their win, great outcomes can be achieved for both parties. When I reflect back on those occasions in sales meetings that I am less than proud of, I am certain that I’d forgotten one or more of these three key assets. Emotional intelligence is not always a natural asset but is a great skill that can be learnt, however like any skill requires constant practice to remain on top of your game.
Let me tell you more
To find out more about Emotional Intelligence, I’m proud to invite you to my Salestrong Bitesize event in Manchester – a fast-paced day of short and powerful development sessions that enable you to improve your sales skills. To book your place and learn the pragmatic and effective tools and techniques that will supercharge your sales performance, click here.