Customer Experience News & Trends

How emotional intelligence impacts the way you sell to customers

Some people misdiagnose their sales challenges and work on the wrong problems. They attempt to improve their sales results by focusing on selling skills alone. 

The reality is: The root cause for poor sales performance may not be the person’s hard skills. It’s often linked to the inability to manage emotions, resulting in an inability to think clearly and react effectively.

Emotional intelligence

Research by Gallup consultants Benson Smith and Tony Rutigliano shows that customer satisfaction and future business is based on an emotional connection with the salesperson. Customers who like their salesperson are twelve times more likely to continue to purchase.

Salespeople need to possess both high-concept and high-touch skills in order to sell today. High-concept skills are the ability to synthesize data, recognize trends and patterns, and transfer them to a creative solution.

This aptitude is vital, because salespeople regularly meet with information-overloaded prospects who don’t have the time to figure out what information is important, what information is highly irrelevant and how to distill the best information.

High-touch skills are connected to emotional intelligence skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, and relationship building. A lack of these soft skills may be just as disastrous as a lack of high-concept skills.

Improving emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence and understanding the what, why and how of emotions is best discovered through self-awareness, the foundational skill needed for building and improving other emotional intelligence skills.

Here are three steps that may help:

1. Schedule downtime

In order to increase self-awareness, make a daily commitment to be free of distractions and to-do lists. If you don’t invest any time in examining your behavior, you’ll end up repeating the same mistakes. Here’s the basic principle: no awareness, no change, same outcome. You can’t change that of which you are not aware. It’s only during downtime that you can be introspective and take time to reflect on your actions and inactions.

Five downtime questions to ask

Here are five questions to help you gain clarity on your sales behavior and outcomes:

  • What was the reason for my reaction to the prospect or customer?
  • What would have been a better response during the sales meeting?
  • What can I do differently to prevent getting into a dead-end selling situation?
  • Who did I need to ask for help and perspective?
  • What did I do well, and how do I repeat that behavior?

2. Create technology-free zones

Some salespeople don’t allow themselves time to think because they’re so busy checking their text messages, email and voice mail. Prospects sense the lack of attention. You can cure this problem by creating technology-free zones prior to meeting with the prospect or customer.

Think about the following:

  • How do I want to show up today with my boss and customers?
  • Do I want to be the go-to-person in the office or the go-away-from one in the office?
  • Where did I not show up well yesterday?
  • What caused me to respond ineffectively? Effectively?
  • Where will I be tempted not to manage my emotions today?

3. Apply the emotional intelligence skill of empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand what others are thinking or feeling. Step into your prospect’s shoes and really think about what he or she may be thinking. Usually they’re dealing with multiple roles and responsibilities and are constantly being asked to do more with less. Do you really think they have the time to focus and study products, services and solutions as you do? No, they need a great salesperson to be a valuable shortcut and make their lives easier. They need you.

Difficult situations

Salespeople face many challenges every day – tough prospects and customers, stress, putting out fires, busy calendars, etc. Those things may never change. But your reaction to them can be recognized, controlled and improved by increasing your self-awareness.

You can’t change how you think and feel without changing your brain. In other words, unless you actually change your mental pathways, new behaviors, responses and skills will not be executed. The better you understand how your brain works, the more likely you are to be a successful salesperson.

Adapted from: Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success by Colleen Stanley, president of SalesLeadership Inc., a sales consulting firm specializing in emotional intelligence.

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