Technological advancements have led to a paradigm shift in the sales profession. The buyer today, doesn’t need much information on products, services etc, as it’s freely available at just a click of the mouse. They are well versed in researching their potential purchase well in advance and explore the features, benefits of the products and services. Thus, the smart buyer has much better and harder queries to ask from the sales expert instead of the information pertaining to product’s features and benefits. Therefore, it becomes imperative for the sales professionals to recognise today’s changing scenario and keep themselves abreast by equipping themselves with the necessary skills. One of the beliefs about sales is that ‘it is still about salesperson’s successful interaction and relationship with the client, which is why the sales transactions must reflect a ‘human element’. Many researchers have proven that there is a significant relationship between emotional intelligence and sales performance, reiterating the fact that soft skills or high touch skills have to be integrated well with the conceptual or hard skills to achieve efficiency in sales results.
Head and heart
As the customer is becoming empowered, a more comprehensive solution to deliver total satisfaction is required. This indicates that emotions are a part of decisions that we make in our everyday life. Our emotional responses are shaped constantly by social interactions and environment we live in. Failure to effectively manage these emotions would lead to failure at work. This implies that sales professionals must ‘know better to do better’ thus emphasising the significance of the term ‘Emotional Intelligence’.
Emotional intelligence refers to the ability of an individual to recognise and manage his emotions, as well as the emotions of others. In simple words, it is an ability to understand the triggering factors affecting self and other’s behaviour and ways to manoeuvre them as per the situation. It helps one deal with uncertainties, challenges and emotional setbacks, helping individuals to take charge of their lives while guiding one’s thinking and actions to balance and maintain the status quo. This involves managing both intra-person and inter-person intelligences. A higher EQ (emotional quotient) contributes towards emotional and intellectual growth of individuals. Emotional intelligence in sales requires sales professionals to meet emotional agendas as a top priority beyond the usual buy-and-sell transactions to deliver customer satisfaction. Salespeople with higher emotional quotient are good at managing themselves and the people around them.
If you have come across a situation where an employee ‘X’ grabs the best salesman of the year award, despite having the technical incompetence, then you need to build on the right mix of technical competence and emotional intelligence skills. One of the most important aspect of Emotional Intelligence is that it can be developed over time. However, dealing with emotions is complex, but there are ways to improvise one’s emotional intelligence and leverage it for working effectively.
Buying is always emotional, it doesn’t matter if a customer thinks that they make logical decisions, it still zeroes down to the feeling they derive. This indicates that the better the sales professional are able to understand the emotions of the customer, the better they are in a position to influence them. Thus, in essence it is the level of emotional intelligence that will help in taking a giant leap towards effectively closing the sale.
Action steps to improve Emotional Intelligence
Focus on ‘Awareness’ principle
Understand your innate strength and weaknesses to know self to manage your challenges. It is important to observe your behaviour in different situations while keeping your eyes and ears open.
Action step: Take out time to practise self-introspection, understand and do a reality check at specific intervals. You must spend some time every day to know yourself to understand your strengths and weaknesses and leverage it to develop a positive outlook even in challenging situations.
Practise Active Listening
It is important to develop the practise of listening carefully to be able to understand others’ perspectives and then responding accordingly. This will help in resolving conflicts, thereby fostering a culture of respect and thus will help in increasing emotional intelligence.
Empathise to build self-control.
Think of a situation when you went to a client, and the client didn’t attend you and things didn’t happen as per your expectations. what would you do?
Action step: Instead of reacting, take a pause — ask yourself, “Under what conditions would I have taken the same work decision?” Explore ‘why’ for every situation and try to put yourself in other person’s situation to understand their perspectives to build empathy and self-control.
Take ‘criticism and feedback’ positively
Treat every criticism as an opportunity to learn and improvise yourself. Any criticism/feedback should be taken in a positive manner and one should never try to ignore/minimize the problem or shift the blame to someone else. Instead, we should always be open to seek feedback from people we trust.
Understand different personalities
The sales professionals must make an earnest attempt to recognise the type of personality they are communicating with, so that they can avoid any negative emotional reactions. By doing so, it will help them move from a ‘me to we’ mind-set as it involves understanding of different personalities and adjusting their behaviour accordingly. However, it’s not a matter of a single day. It’s a journey a sales professional has to undertake towards attaining perfection to increase emotional intelligence. The stronger one develops it, the more likelihood there is of increasing sales performance.