Emotional Intelligence – Your secret to success in Sales (Part 1)


I have been directly and indirectly involved in sales since the mid 80’s. During this time, I have seen sales people achieve a mixed bag of results. Some sales people work really hard, but despite their best efforts, they achieve only lacklustre results. On the other hand, I have observed a second group, who apply the same effort, yet they seem to have the Midas touch.  Everything they touch, turns to sold.

It is clear that some people, just have what it takes to be great sales people, whilst others don’t. If that is the case, what is it that separates the “GREAT” sals professionals from the average and poor ones.

For many years I was unable to answer this question, until one day I was teaching a group of leaders a course on emotional intelligence and as the day progressed, I pondered the idea of integrating emotional intelligence as a soft selling skill into my sales training.

Just as leaders can be supported to optimise their ability to lead (positively influence their followers), by learning to optimise their emotional intelligence, so too can sales people, be supported to improve their ability to sell (positively influence their customers), by learning how to optimise their emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence in sales

It is not only hard selling skills, which are crucial to support your sales team to optimize their ability to build meaningful partnerships with their prospects and customers and to support them to close more sales. They also need to learn how to explore and utilise their Emotional Intelligence, so that they can understand the following:

  • Their customers thinking styles, so that they can connect with them and communicate with them where they are. This will make them more effective in sales meetings.
  • Understanding their customers thinking styles also supports sales professionals to work collaboratively with their customers, so that they can uncover the right solution for them.
  • Their customers Personality types, so that they can alter their approach to match the unique needs and expectations of each customer
  • Decision making processes, so that they can effectively communicate with their customers and provide them with a proposal that speaks to them, in a way they understand.
  • Emotional responses, so that they can adjust their approach to ensure that it speaks to their future customers on an emotional level.
  • Body language cues, so that they can interpret how to adjust their approach during meetings to communicate more effectively
  • Know, how and when to show empathy, support and caring
  • Learn the art delayed gratification, so that they will follow-through until a sale is closed
  • Learn how to self-actualize so that they commit to their personal and professional development.
  • Emotional Intelligence, supports sales professionals to connect with their future customers in a meaningful way, which supports them to build powerful mutually beneficial partnerships, instead of mere VENDORships with them.
  • Sales people with optimised Emotional Intelligence are better able to manage their emotions, during any sales call. This helps them to better manage pressure during sales calls.
  • Emotionally intelligent sales people are also equipped to ask for help and support where necessary.
  • Have the emotional intelligence to contribute to the team, even though they may not personally benefit
  • Become more effective at showing real caring for their customers, so that they can optimize their ability to develop mutually beneficial partnerships with their customers and prospects?
  • Emotional Intelligent sales professionals are more confident, as they are equipped with a set of skills that promotes understanding and rapport with their customers.

Hard vs. Soft Skills training

We have found that sales people with a low understanding of their own Emotional Intelligence and how to synthesize their thinking styles with that of their prospects and customers, often sabotage themselves, despite attending great hard sales skills training programs.

It turns out that the so-called “SOFT SKILLS”, which have been thought of as a nice to have, until now, are in fact crucial elements in any sales training and implementation process.

Investing into optimizing sales professional’s Emotional Intelligence, where they are more in touch with their own thinking styles and better equipped to become the chameleon, where they can communicate with customers and prospects, where they are, results in:

  • Improved relationship building
  • Better solution identification
  • More effective communication
  • More tailored proposals

Increasing the Emotional Intelligence of your sales team members results in an excellent financial payback too, as more prospects are converted into customers, customers buy more, they have a better experience, become raving fans and refer more prospects to your organisation.

Why should you focus on developing your sales teams Emotional Intelligence?

Besides all the benefits highlighted above, there are a number of other benefits that will accrue to your sale steam, as listed below, when they invest time towards optimising their Emotional Intelligence.

These benefits are as follows: 

  • Your sales team will learn how to better manage their emotions and understand how to evaluate emotive responses from their customers and prospects, so that they can more effectively communicate with them.
  • When your sales team understands how to show meaningful empathy, they are better equipped to effectively integrate into their customers businesses and become a trusted advisor and partner.
  • When your sales team develops their Emotional Intelligence, around Delayed Gratification, they become more effective at prospecting, as they are more patient and persistent.
  • As your sales team learns the Emotional Intelligence concept of Self-Confidence, they are able to remain focused, and calm during sales encounters, so that they are better equipped to tap into their logic and intellect, where necessary.
  • Developing the Emotional intelligence skill around Assertiveness helps to set and manage expectations, so that your sales team can develop effective partnerships, instead of vendor-ships.
  • As your sales team develops the Emotional Intelligence skill of Impulse Control, they will learn the art of asking more effective questions and they will listen more, so that they can understand customer challenges and become better solution providers.
  • Emotionally intelligent sales professionals, show up with a very positive attitude at every sales meeting, which creates a very productive buying atmosphere during sales meetings.
  • When sales teams have invested time towards optimizing their Emotional Intelligence, they become more effective, as they have learned to delay gratification, which supports them to invest the time to create effective sales and prospecting plans
  • Emotional intelligent sales professionals also have an enhanced level of focus and drive, which supports them to actively engage in proper preparation, before every sales encounter.
  • Emotional Intelligent sales people also have the maturity to regularly engage in sales rehearsal, so that they can improve their skills during sales encounters.
  • Sales professionals, who have developed their Emotional Intelligence, are better equipped to work collaboratively toward a meaningful solution for their prospects and customers.

Understanding Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to recognize emotions in yourself and others and then to know how to effectively communicate with your prospects and customers, where they are. In other words, it is the crucial sales skill required to recognize the different thinking styles, exhibited by your customers and prospects, so that you can adapt your approach, to suite these different ways of thinking.

Sales professionals, who invest time to improve their Emotional intelligent, remain focused during sales interactions. This means that they are able to utilize their critical thinking skills, where they get to engage with their customers in meaningful dialogue during sales meetings.

Handling Adversity and Challenges

Sales professionals with optimised Emotional Intelligence are better equipped to handle adversity and challenges, due to the following:

  • Sales professionals, who score low on self-control and handling stress, react very negatively when exposed to any adversity. After exposure to any challenges, they engage in days of inactivity, self-doubt and roller coaster emotions.
  • Once your sales team trains to improve their Emotional Intelligence, they are equipped to respond positively to adversity and challenges. This helps them to remain positive, focused and helps them to remain inspired, so that they continue taking the necessary daily action.
  • Emotionally intelligent sales professionals recognize emotional triggers and are able to alter their reactions and emotional responses, so that they are able to remain calm and respond intelligently, when confronted with unusual questions or difficult prospects.
  • As your sales team members strive to improve their Emotional Intelligence, they become creative thinkers and solution finders.
  • Developing emotional intelligence inspires your sales professionals to develop willingness to share and support others without any expectation of receiving anything in return.

In the article today, I have tried to show all the benefits associated with supporting your sales team to optimise their Emotional Intelligence. The articles that will follow, will offer practical insights to support you to actually start the process of optimising your own.