The value of emotional intelligence (EQ) in the sales profession is finally getting the recognition it deserves in helping sales teams achieve their revenue goals. Emotional intelligence has been taught and embraced in the executive leadership world for a long time; however, sales leaders have not been as quick to adopt it. Many hard-charging sales leaders have been reluctant to include soft-skills training in their training programs. They mistakenly think that soft skills produce, well, soft sales results.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Sales managers, it’s time to challenge your thinking and gain an edge on your unaware, slow-adopting competitors. Successful sales organizations may not always label certain skills as soft skills. But when you take a closer look, these top-performing sales cultures prove the power of EQ skills. Here are three EQ attributes that will help your sales team outperform the competition.

Too many sales organizations still buy into the myth that your best salespeople are Lone Rangers, high maintenance, and self-centered. Read that sentence again. Do these attributes describe salespeople who are going to take your company to the next level? Yes, there is research to support that Lone Ranger salespeople are effective. But how are you measuring effectiveness? One or two great Lone Rangers can’t and won’t scale a company. I’ve worked with thousands of GREAT salespeople; the best ones are both competitive and collaborative.

They recognize that the competitor is outside, not inside, the building.

Emotionally intelligent sales organizations recognize it takes a sales village to win. They don’t just talk teamwork, they live it. These teams possess interpersonal and social responsibility skills — soft skills.

Veterans mentor and help the new hires. They share best practices, knowing that the sooner new hires achieve quota, the better. When a new hire achieves quota, it adds one more salesperson to the team who has the selling skills to take business from the competition. And when your sales organization gains more clients, there are more people talking about your great services. The result is more referred and repeat business. Soft skills make a difference in hard sales results.  

I constantly preach this mantra to my clients: “That which you do not own, you cannot change.” I am a big fan of personal accountability because without it, you wind up assigning blame — and making excuses. Neither action grows people, sales, or profits.

Soft skills make a difference in achieving hard sales results.

Personal accountability requires the EQ skill of self-awareness. Self-aware salespeople reflect on all the reasons for their successes and failures. You don’t hear things such as “I lost because of pricing” or “I’m missing plan because I don’t have good prospects.” High-EQ salespeople own the outcome of the sales call, and of their successes and failures.

Instead of excuses, you hear “I got outsold,” “I lacked the assertiveness to state what I needed during the sales meeting,” or “I need to practice more in order to be more effective on sales calls.” Personal accountability plus self-awareness is a powerful combination, creating sales cultures that manage results, not excuses.  

Team members have the ability to resist the temptation for an immediate, often smaller, reward in order to gain a larger one later. This soft skill also is essential to developing your sales grit.

Angela Duckworth, author of the best-selling book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, cites ground-breaking research that supports the idea that most successful people possess grit. One component of grit is perseverance, which I say is closely related to delayed gratification.

Duckworth shares the story of a conversation with an aspiring entrepreneur, who is tempted to flit from one good idea to another. She said, “There are no shortcuts to excellence. Developing real expertise and figuring out really hard problems take time — longer than most people imagine.”   

In the sales profession, there are no shortcuts to excellence.

Instant-gratification salespeople often lack the grit, or delayed-gratification skills, to put in the work to earn the reward of becoming excellent in sales.

They get easily frustrated and discouraged if they lose an opportunity, so they stop prospecting. They aren’t willing to practice selling skills over and over in order to conduct a sales meeting in a confident and conversational manner. When the going gets tough, they get going. As a result, they are a jack-of-all-trades and master of none because they’ve never developed deep expertise in anything.

Sales managers, are you ready for your sales team to outperform the competition? Then start integrating both the sales EQ and sales IQ into your sales methodology. This powerful combination is the key to building a sales team that consistently wins business and outperforms the competition. 

Emotionally intelligent sales organizations recognize it takes a sales village to win.”

Colleen Stanley | President, SalesLeadership, Inc.
Learn from the best. Sell like the best.