What skills make someone great at sales?
You probably think something along the lines of persistence, willingness to go out and meet people or an inherent ability to solve pressing problems. These are all good answers. However, many skills people associate with good salesmanship stem from one specific, in-demand skill set—emotional intelligence (EQ).
In a recent episode of Conversations That Matter, a podcast by Uniphore, we chatted with Orrin Webb Jr., founder of Enmocean, a sales EQ coaching company, to talk about his journey to emotional intelligence, how EQ drives sales success and business value and why companies should foster EQ throughout their organizations. This is what we learned.
The Four Domains of Emotional Intelligence
Orrin begins by outlining the four domains of emotional intelligence—self awareness, social awareness, self-regulation and relationship management—something we explored in a previous podcast, “Emotional Intelligence: An Introductory Guide.” These domains offer sales associates a way to begin their journey and to dive deeper into what they know and understand about themselves and others.
It’s this deep knowledge that allows sales associates to achieve remarkable results in their professional and personal development. Humans are emotional beings, no matter the setting, so it’s vital to understand how emotions can change the entire trajectory of a conversation, meeting and outcome of a sales call.
For example, representatives that take the time to research and understand a customer’s needs before getting on a Zoom call often fare better than those who go in blind. During the Zoom call, EQ helps ensure the customer is responsive and that the representative can successfully guide the sales relationship into the next steps. In a world where most interactions happen virtually, sensitivity to and a deep understanding of emotional and personality cues are essential.
The Challenges Sales Associates and Leaders Face
Sales can be a stressful job path. So much in the sales cycle can’t be predicted, no matter how much research and preparation goes into every interaction. Without emotional intelligence, salespeople may have trouble handling stress.
For sales associates, this can result in snappy or erratic decision-making based on emotional cues that come and go. In leaders, this can mean discomfort around sales reps and other team members because of their inability to recognize their own emotions or communicate them in positive, constructive ways.
Scenarios like these underscore why emotional intelligence is highly critical for sales positions. An understanding not only of personal emotions but also how others manage their own emotions can keep sales relationships healthy and productive.
How EQ Benefits Both Individuals and Businesses
High EQ distinguishes great sales reps from average ones. Individuals with a high EQ can pinpoint what resonates with different people as they move through the sales cycle. They apply relationship management techniques to build better relationships with customers, investors and their teams.
Empathy is also a critical part of the equation. Emotional intelligence enables the kind of empathy sales associates need to understand their customers more deeply—before a call, during the meeting when emotional misunderstandings can be disruptive and after the interaction as they work through the next steps in the sales relationship.
Orrin also talked about a particular strategy for leveraging EQ—personas. He developed a list of common personas and their traits, a sort of Cliff Notes for how to approach different personality types. He refers to these personas in sales calls to help him craft a personalized, rich experience for the customer based on their interests, desires and challenges.
Building this persona playbook begins with:
- Expanding your definition of emotions beyond sad, mad and happy. This emotional vocabulary is a critical part of self-regulation
- Expanding your social awareness by identifying underlying emotional responses. This helps you understand different personality types as you interact with people in real life
- Continuing the process of discovery through reflection
- Expanding your understanding of your own emotions by diving deeper into the emotional wheel
Incorporating Emotional Intelligence into Your Sales Strategy
Orrin is confident that anyone can develop better emotional intelligence. “I definitely don’t think we’re born with it,” he said. “More often than not, when we’re young, we tend to be a little bit more emotional, right?” He believed strongly that sales associates and leaders need emotional intelligence to create a productive team.
He recommended beginning the EQ journey with reflection. “When we define emotional intelligence, we look at those four domains taking action on expanding your awareness. Often, it can look like being more reflective.” Journal prompts and other reflective techniques can help lay the foundation for self-awareness. Understanding yourself, he continued, is the first step to understanding others.
Expanding your EQ can also have far-reaching effects on your sales strategy and success. Understanding the world of emotions through the four domains—self-awareness, social awareness, self-regulation and relationship management—provides critical clues for how the sales relationship is progressing and what is going on with the client in terms of emotions.
Forging Strong Connections with EQ
Better connections can translate into better customer experiences. Orrin believed that although not everyone is born with EQ, it can be developed. Improving EQ is a vital part of becoming a sales leader, and organizations will do well to incorporate EQ into their overall sales strategy. When you treat customers and associates as humans with complex emotions, there’s nowhere else to go but win.
Want to learn more how EQ helps improve your sales teams?
Check out Q for Sales by Uniphore