Emotional Intelligence, Sales and Ironman - Lesson #4 Empathy

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Posted: March 1, 2012

The struggle of my life created empathy - I could relate to pain, being abandoned, having people not love me.  ~ Oprah Winfrey

The choice to complete an Ironman is not done alone. Months before registration, time was filled discussing the choice with my wife and kids about racing Ironman. It was going to be a commitment, not only for me, but also for them.

My family was going to put up with me being gone most weekends. What you are not told, is what happens after you train for long hours. At times you are grumpy, tired, apathetic and generally a jerk (sometimes). I have experienced moments of over training in the past, but Ironman training reached levels never experienced before.

If we had not made the choice as a family, it would have put a strain on my marriage. It was at these times, I needed to use empathy, an Emotional Intelligent trait that is a strong predictor of a sales person success.

Empathy is recognizing, understanding and appreciating how other people feel. When you have made your millionth cold call and visited more networking events than birds in the sky, you can become impatient with prospects that put you off for their kids soccer game. It is at moments like these, empathy is used. When you are able to articulate your understanding of another’s perspective and behaving in a way that respects others’ feelings, you show that the relationship is more important than your sale or any training ride.

People want to conduct business with other people. You may laugh shaking your head at the obvious. Ask yourself when the last time you let business trump the human response.

At many times it could have been very easy for me to look at my wife and say well, Ironman was your choice also. In a salesman’s world, you may have flown halfway across the country to have your meeting interrupted by your prospect, having an unanticipated emergency. When you display empathy and the human side of yourself, you become a person and put your own agenda on hold.

We watch too many movies where the aggressive business man gets what he wants, regardless of the opposition's feelings. What impact is he leaving and what relationship is he building with the client?

I hope life is more than finishing Ironman or being the #1 salesman. When my time on earth is done, I have a feeling I will be thinking more about my wife, kids and the impact I made on the world. I hope my last moment’s are not spent thinking about how many Ironmans I completed or millions I have sold.

Have a Great Journey!

Matt Rowe