This is a 3-part series on emotional intelligence and why it plays an important role with sales leaders today. It is authored by CX and emotional intelligence expert Dave Seaton.
Sales is all about people. And while we humans have spent the last few millennia trying to convince each other we’re a rational, logical, structured, analytical, consistent, data-driven, strategic-planning, business-case-writing, common-sense kind of folk, we don’t act that way. When your inbox dings and you read that condescending email from Camille—who copied your boss’s boss and half the executive team, of course—blaming you for losing the account, your first thought is not to consider her perspective and calmly reassess your position. No, you want to hurl your laptop across the office, scream at the intern, and set fire to the copy machine. Do copiers even burn? Time to find out.
Have you ever been cruising down the highway—daydreaming about quitting your job, buying a one-way ticket to Costa Rica, fixing up an old fishing boat—and whoa, suddenly there’s a massive black Ford on your bumper, inches away from plowing you into a fiery interstate death? Where did he come from?! You weren’t paying attention to traffic. You didn’t consciously check the rear-view mirror. Your brain was on cruise control. But while you were lost in thought, your subconscious mind was scanning the environment for threats because that’s what your subconscious is always doing. And when it noticed Rick, the road-raging restaurant manager bearing down on your tail, it activated your fight-or-flight response and yanked you out of your daydream.
And what’s your first instinct? Pump the brakes. Give Rick back there a jolt of “wake up and get off my backside.” Basically, the most dangerous thing you can possibly do at 77 miles-per-hour. Are we rational beings? No, my friend, we’re not.
But we do have critical thinking skills, lurking in our cerebral cortexes, just behind our foreheads. And when we apply those skills to our emotions, we make better decisions. We don’t hit reply-all to Camille with a scathing assessment of her intellect, fashion sense and oral hygiene. We don’t pump the brakes on Rick, but instead we flip on the turn signal, change lanes, and let him pass safely. We choose our response to the situation, rather than reacting emotionally. That’s called Emotional Intelligence, and it’s the key to maximizing your sales effectiveness.
Why Emotional Intelligence is Important for Sales Leaders
Emotional intelligence benefits you in two ways: it boosts your own performance, and helps you create a workplace culture that enables your team’s best contributions. Research from TalentSmart EQ found that people with high emotional intelligence earned, on average, $29,000 more per year. Technical skills and knowledge aren’t enough to perform at the highest level—people who can manage their own emotions and interact strategically with others have the most success.
When you’re on a Zoom call and the prospect is criticizing your proposal, it’s emotional. You could feel afraid of losing the deal or frustrated that the prospect doesn’t see the bigger picture. Emotional intelligence allows you to recognize that you’re experiencing a difficult emotion and re-engage your rational brain. Instead of reacting to the situation emotionally, you can choose a better response. You bounce back from negative emotions faster.
When you lead with emotional intelligence, your team performs better too. Harvard University psychologist David McClelland found a clear link between emotional intelligence and organizational performance when he studied leaders at a global food and beverage company.
In the next blog post in this series, I will dive into the four domains of emotional intelligence made popular by EQ pioneer Daniel Goldman.
Want to learn more how EQ helps improve your sales teams?
Check out Q for Sales by Uniphore