It is unlikely that the level of face to face interactions between sales people and their customers will ever return to what it was pre-Covid. Even as other business procedures return to normal, it is fair to expect that both individuals and organisations will want to exercise caution when it comes to in-person meetings. The biggest challenge this brings for sales people is that the physical distance present in a virtual sales meeting exacerbates the metaphorical distance that exists naturally between a sales person and a customer, making that gap bigger and harder to bridge. A bit like lining up for the start of a race and then being told you alone must take 5 paces back – it’s still possible for you to win, but you’re going to have to work harder than you would have done previously to do so.
There is one key skill that enables sales people to more effectively bridge this distance and build strong customer relationships and that’s Emotional Intelligence (EI).
Why is EI important for sales people?
Sales people with high EI not only close more deals, but they close bigger deals, with greater value. There are a number of reasons for this, all of which become even more critical when operating in a virtual selling environment:
- Those with higher EI are better at building rapport – Because those with high EI are attuned to identifying the social styles, preferences and emotions of others’, they are able to expertly flex and adapt their own style to suit that of their customers. This helps to quickly build rapport and trust in the relationship.
Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize-winning psychologist, found that people would rather do business with somebody they like and trust rather than someone they don’t, even when that person is offering a lower price and better product. So, in a virtual environment, where there is an additional psychological distance created by the physical distance, the importance of building trust-based relationships quickly is amplified.
- Those with higher EI are more self-aware – The virtual environment magnifies certain behaviours, particularly those that others tend to find unwelcome. Self-awareness is one of the key components of EI and those high in it are far more aware of their own nuances, biases and inclinations meaning they’re able to counteract those which might be perceived negatively by others.
- Those with higher EI are better at picking up on non-verbal cues – Non-verbal cues tell us an awful lot about how another person is feeling. However in the virtual world, these verbal cues can be far more difficult to spot. Those high in EI benefit from a heightened ability to pick up on these types of cues, meaning they can quickly address any potential concerns or problems. Like it or not, it’s far easier for a customer or prospect to ‘close down’ a virtual meeting if they feel unhappy or unconvinced about something than it is a face to face, so the ability to identify potential issues early significantly improves the sales person’s chances of success.
- Those with higher EI are more adept at moving buyers through the buying process – As well as building trust more quickly, those sales people with high EI more efficiently take their buyers through the buying process. Their Emotional Intelligence makes them far better equipped to identify and address concerns, pitch in way that appeals to and engages the customer, regularly ‘check in’ with their customers to gauge understanding, create and communicate value and negotiate, holding on to a greater proportion of that value.
- Those with higher EI have greater accountability – Sales people who take greater ownership for their actions are more successful because they are more disciplined and resilient, are better at managing their time and use their failures as opportunities to develop and improve. In the virtual world, where sales people must work even harder to engage prospects, build relationships and close deals, accountability becomes an even stronger indicator of success.
Even when the technology runs without issue, much meaning and understanding can be lost when operating in a virtual environment. The higher your level of Emotional Intelligence, the better you will be at navigating the virtual sales process.
Our Emotional Intelligence programme for sales people can be run virtually, at a time convenient for your sales people. To find out more, give us a call on 01778 382733, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or read more.