There are many reasons companies win business. Some are innovative, creating disruptive products and services that make their competitors look like dinosaurs. Others work hard to create high-quality products that are worth their high cost. And there is another reason, one that CEOs and sales managers often overlook. It’s the emotional intelligence (EQ) of the sales department.
Steven Stein and Howard Book are the authors of The EQ Edge. Their comprehensive work in the study of emotional intelligence shows that soft skills are as important to winning business as hard selling skills.
High-EQ sales cultures win more business for a variety of reasons. One is that they move fast because they manage results, not excuses. They are good at disqualifying opportunities that are never going to turn into closed business and move on to more likely prospects.
Here are two EQ skills Stein and Book list as helping your sales organizations move faster and win more business:
Self-regard. In the EQ world, self-regard is defined as “inner confidence.” It’s the ability to admit your strengths and weaknesses. This skill is at the core of resilience, grit, and the ability to bounce back.
Salespeople with high self-regard also have developed the ability to separate their “do” from their “who.” When they fail in trying something new, they assign the failure to what they do, rather than take the failure personally and ascribe it to who they are.
Without separation of do and who, salespeople demonstrate behaviors that hold them back from reaching their full sales potential. They take no’s from prospects personally, creating self-doubt and negative self-talk. This leads to limited risk taking. Instead of pursuing bigger accounts, they default to either working only with existing clients or to pursuing small, easy accounts to avoid hearing the word no.
Salespeople who haven’t separated their do from their who also take feedback from their sales managers personally. When they get feedback, they move into “yeah, but …” statements or get defensive. I call them eggshell salespeople. They easily crack from any feedback. As a result, the sales manager dreads giving them feedback and avoids such conversations. Without feedback, the salesperson leads a comfortable but status quo life. Growth happens only with honest, well-intended feedback.
So what can sales managers do to increase their sales team’s self-regard and improve their EQ in sales?