Sales leaders are always looking for ways to optimize sales processes, improve technology infrastructure and above all, get the best out of our sales teams. However, there is one thing that most sales leaders tend to overlook – the role of building emotional intelligence among sellers.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence or EQ refers to the ability to identify, understand and manage one’s emotions, as well as those of other people. In the context of sales, EQ plays a crucial role in building strong relationships, solving complex problems, and driving collaboration, all of which are essential for driving revenue growth. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of EQ in sales performance and why smart sales leaders focus on developing EQ in their teams.

There’s no comparison – high EQ sellers versus low EQ sellers

Meet Jennifer. She has very high EQ (as well as IQ). She’s self-aware, empathetic, and adaptable so her prospects feel she genuinely is there to serve them.  They trust her. They ask her for advice on how to navigate their own company and the buying journey.  She uses her EQ to read people, anticipate their needs, and tailor her communication style. She is remarkably consistent in her forecast accuracy and she’s always a top performer.

In contrast, Michael has average EQ. He’s driven and competitive – but he gets frustrated when prospects don’t want or understand what he’s selling. He gets feedback that he’s overly aggressive. He works very hard and has a lot of first meetings, but doesn’t advance opportunities further down the funnel. His prospects resist additional meetings with him. His forecast is unreliable and he’s complaining that his territory is barren and marketing doesn’t generate anything he can use.

At L’Oreal, high EQ sellers like Jennifer outperformed average EQ sellers like Michael by over $90,000 and had 63% less turnover. High EQ sellers like Jennifer had 5% faster sales cycles too (global software company).

Reason 1: High EQ sellers build strong relationships

High Emotional Quotient (EQ) sellers build stronger relationships because they have a greater understanding of their own emotions and the emotions of others. This allows them to connect with customers on a deeper level, empathize with their needs, and provide solutions that truly meet those needs.

  1. Empathy: High EQ sellers are able to put themselves in the customer’s shoes and understand their perspective. This helps them to anticipate the customer’s needs and provide personalized solutions.
  2. Emotional Awareness: They are aware of their own emotions and can manage them effectively. This enables them to stay calm under pressure, handle objections gracefully, and maintain a positive demeanor that attracts customers.
  3. Interpersonal Skills: High EQ sellers have strong interpersonal skills, which enable them to build rapport and trust with customers. They are good listeners and communicators, which makes customers feel heard and understood.
  4. Adaptability: They are flexible and adapt their approach based on the customer’s emotions and reactions. They can read subtle cues and adjust their communication style accordingly.
  5. Resilience: High EQ sellers are resilient and can handle rejection without taking it personally. This resilience helps them to persist in the face of challenges and keep moving forward.

Reason 2: High EQ Sellers are creative problem solvers

High EQ sellers are often more creative problem solvers due to their emotional intelligence. Here’s why:

  1. Openness to Creative Solutions: People with high EQ are more open to exploring creative and unconventional solutions to problems. They can tap into their emotional understanding to think outside the box and consider new perspectives (source).
  2. Handling Stress and Pressure: High EQ individuals are better at coping with stress, pressure, and uncertainty, which are common in sales scenarios. This resilience allows them to remain calm in difficult situations and come up with innovative solutions (source).
  3. Emotional Honesty: People with high EQ are honest with their emotions. This enables them to be more authentic and genuine, which can lead to more insightful and innovative solutions in sales (source).
  4. Collaboration: High EQ individuals are often better at collaborating with others. Collaborative problem solving can lead to more creative solutions as it brings together diverse perspectives and ideas (source).
  5. Emotionally Driven Decisions: Emotional states encourage specific problem-solving approaches such as when happiness facilitates inductive reasoning and creativity. High EQ individuals understand this and use their emotional intelligence to drive their decision-making process (source).

Reason 3: High EQ sellers are more resilient

High EQ sellers are more resilient due to their ability to understand, manage, and use emotions effectively in the face of adversity. Here’s why:

  1. Emotion Regulation: High EQ individuals can regulate their own emotions effectively, which helps them to stay calm under pressure and bounce back from setbacks faster (source).
  2. Empathy: Their ability to empathize with others allows them to see different perspectives, fostering a positive attitude towards challenges and enhancing their capacity to adapt (source).
  3. Self-Awareness: High EQ individuals have a deep understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. This self-awareness allows them to leverage their strengths and work on their weaknesses, enhancing their resilience (source).
  4. Positive Relationships: High EQ individuals are skilled at building and maintaining positive relationships. These relationships can provide support during difficult times, further enhancing their resilience (source).
  5. Optimism: High EQ individuals tend to be more optimistic. Optimism has been linked to resilience, as it encourages a positive outlook and helps individuals to keep going in the face of adversity (source).

In summary, high EQ sellers are more resilient because their emotional intelligence enables them to regulate their emotions, empathize with others, understand themselves better, build supportive relationships, and maintain an optimistic outlook. These skills help them to adapt to changes, overcome challenges, and bounce back from setbacks more effectively.

How to systematically grow EQ?

EQ grows when you develop three mental muscles. Shirzad Chamine, founder of Positive Intelligence, simplified and streamlined the mechanism to upgrade one’s mental operating system based on extensive research in neuroscience and psychology. The muscles are to recognize negative thoughts (“saboteurs”); exercise self-command to reset and redirect mental energy; and unlock positive impulses (“sage”). By exercising these muscles in short bursts every day, individuals can improve their emotional intelligence, much like regular exercise improves physical fitness. In fact, regular mental exercise will rewire your mind the same as regular physical exercise will rewire your body.

Sales leaders often focus on optimizing execution-related processes such as growing pipeline, forecasting, and sales methodology. These are all important, but they are just one part of the puzzle and they all encounter adoption speedbumps because of EQ deficits. Sales teams that are not emotionally intelligent cannot take full advantage of these processes, tools and methodologies. So, sales leaders must upgrade their teams EQ for all their other efforts to get results.

This article was previously posted on LinkedIn.com