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Connection Conversations: Emotional Intelligence in Sales

Customer conversations

25 October 2021Article

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Every day, business problems are solved by the consultation, guidance, and offerings (products, services, etc.) of B2B sellers. Business sales are non-linear, complex, and consensus-based processes. The most successful salespeople in this arena are those who have learnt and mastered emotional intelligence.

Often referred to as “EQ” (the Emotional Quotient), emotional intelligence describes a range of inter- and intrapersonal traits centred on creating and nurturing productive, empathetic, intangible connections – in this case between prospect and salesperson. Many of these traits can be taught, fostered, and improved, which is why Richardson Sales Performance’s curriculum focuses so much on using behavioural science to improve sales performance.

Sales are made when salespeople:

  • Understand buyers, their behaviours, motivations, and concerns,
  • Are taught how to predict, respond, and support buyers throughout their journey,
  • Have the right Sales Messaging materials, and
  • Can recognise what emotionally intelligent selling looks like (which is why we offer videos and content that clearly demonstrate winning approaches)

Our “Six Critical Skills of Successful Sales Conversations” outlines some of these necessary EQ basics.

We Need to Express Our Feelings?

Some business leaders hear “feelings” when people espouse the value of “emotional intelligence”. But EQ isn’t about circles of buyers and sellers locking hands and singing “Kumbaya”. EQ isn’t a trend or fad – its roots can be found in even “old school” sales techniques and theories.

The familiar refrain that “people buy from those they like” may be stale, but there are kernels of truth within the sentiment. Trust, rapport, and positive experiences all help to drive sales. Each of these is easier for an emotionally intelligent salesperson to create than one who is unable to connect and understand the needs, concerns, fears, and objections of their buyer. It’s that simple: Having insight into what motivates people and influences their opinions and feelings goes a long way toward gaining their trust and creating the right atmosphere for a transaction to take place.

The Emotionally Intelligent Path

The key to this atmosphere and emotionally intelligent sales? Empathy. Business buying is risky and emotionally charged. Buyers are under pressure to make financially sound, effective decisions. Within their personal spheres their job stability, promotions, compensation, etc., may be at stake. Empathetic sellers understand that the sales conversation is a give and take between their goal (to make a sale) and the buyer’s goal (to make the right decision to solve their business need).

Navigating that interplay successfully – resulting in a closed deal – means that both parties have to come to a common ground. It’s the salesperson’s job to create that commonality through listening, understanding, anticipating, and guiding.

It’s not just your AEs, however, who need to master emotional intelligence, everyone in your sales process, or who touches your customers should have a working knowledge of the do’s and don’ts of EQ in customer communication.

Getting Back Up: Using EQ to Persevere

Some lesser recognised, but equally important, EQ skills aren’t as much about the customer or buyer, as they are about the sellers themselves.

Resilience is the number one EQ skill that primarily centres on the practitioner; though, when in action, it can have positive influence on the buyers’ experiences as well. Some deals are long, others are rife with numerous micro-moments of possible loss, others are lost entirely. How your salespeople weather these storms, respond to them, course-correct them, learn from them, or, at least, survive them positively, is critical for their overall success.

Resilience is also critical for buyers. A self-aware, empathetic, emotionally regulated seller can leverage their skills to help navigate a buyer through all the ups and downs of discovery, objections, challenges, and more. EQ brings calm and humour to otherwise stressful circumstances.

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A Word on Conversation Intelligence

Technology can be a huge help in developing your team’s EQ. Artificial Intelligence software is serving to accelerate companies’ ability to measure and quantify EQ in their sales processes. Such platforms “listen” and “analyze” the interactions between the salesperson and the prospect and identify what’s working and what needs improvement. Conversation intelligence technology is like a smart watch’s incredibly sophisticated fitness tracker – extremely beneficial at driving outcomes when combined with a user who is working out, but “just a watch” if the wearer never hits the road.

Conversation intelligence is useful for data-driven improvements, but how to leverage emotional intelligence in sales must first be taught and adopted before it can be studied and assessed.

Building, educating, and nurturing a resilient, empathetic, and motivated sales force is the cornerstone to revenue generation and business growth.

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