Imagine walking into your office on Monday morning only to discover that after months of courting your top prospect has terminated their relationship with you. Would you throw a fit and blame your sales team? Or would you take a moment to compose yourself and then start figuring out what went wrong? While we’d all like to believe we would choose the third reaction, emotions can be a difficult beast to tame. And although equating intelligence with emotion may seem like an oxymoron, emotional intelligence now accounts for 80% of the qualities responsible for success in the workplace.
And if you happen to be in the market for a new sales gig, emotional intelligence is one the most underrated qualities you can possess as a sales candidate.
The challenge? You can’t easily claim that you’re an emotionally intelligent person during an interview because it’s not a numerically measurable KPI.
Emotional intelligence on a resume is like a deflected pass in basketball. You know it makes a difference, but it’s hard to prove the ROI.
So, What Exactly is Emotional Intelligence?
In a nutshell, emotional intelligence involves a person’s ability to recognize and regulate their own emotions as well as the emotions of others.
A study of Fortune 500 companies found that salespeople with high emotional intelligence “outperformed those with medium to low EI by 50%“. With numbers like these, it’s no wonder an increasing number of sales professionals are investing in the development of their emotional intelligence to obtain the following qualities.
Those with high emotional intelligence are self-aware, which means they know their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to customer relations. This is important as it allows you to understand how you come across to potential clients and promotes a relationship based on understanding.
Self-control is also a trait of the emotionally intelligent and is especially important in sales. Dealing with clients is unpredictable, to say the least, which means the ability to control your emotions could be the difference between a closed deal and a lost one.
Empathy is the ability to understand what others think or feel. In other words, it’s the ability to put yourself in your prospective clients’ shoes in order to understand them better.
Much like self-control, empathy can save a strained professional relationship. Rather than pushing your own agenda, empathy allows you to understand where your client is coming from and enables you to provide them with what they need in that moment.
Fortunately, while some individuals naturally exhibit high levels of emotional intelligence, it is also a skill set that can be improved upon with the following practices.
Key Takeaways For Improving Your Emotional IQ
1) Scheduled Self-Reflection:
Salespeople are notoriously busy. Between answering and sending out emails, managing client relationships, and putting out proverbial fires it can be difficult to carve out some downtime.
Although it may seem counterproductive to put your day on hold for self-reflection, it could be the secret weapon you need to increase your sales. It takes time to examine our behavior and set intentions for change, without it our desire to improve is a moot point.
Whether it’s riding the subway or waiting for your spin class to start, find the time to ask yourself some introspective questions such as:
What did I do well today, and how can I continue that behavior?
What caused me to react poorly today?
What can I do differently next time?
2) Practice Empathy:
Take a moment prior to your interactions to view things from the other side of the table. Sure, your prospects may have a need for what you’re selling, but they likely don’t have the time to understand everything that you offer. This means they need you to be their valued shortcut that helps them to make an informed decision without wasting precious time.
3) Practice Responding, Not Reacting:
Remember the scenario above about losing a top prospect? The first two scenarios are examples of reacting to an emotional trigger, while the last scenario is an example of responding.
In contrast to an unconscious emotional reaction, responding involves making a conscious choice about how you will act. So, the next time someone cuts in front of you in the Starbucks line or uses the last of the coffee creamer at work – practice your cool, calm, and collected response.
Nobody said being a salesperson was easy, but there are times when it’s undeniably worth it. While the challenges you face every day may never change, your reactions can — all it takes is a little practice.