Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer are two of the leading researchers on Emotional Intelligence (EI). Their extensive research of EI is described in their model which divides EI into four branches. This model is one that salespeople and sales leaders can learn and integrate into their current sales development processes.
- Perceiving emotions including nonverbal signs such as facial expressions and body language. This skill is especially important in listening to the conversation that is NOT being verbalized when meeting with prospects and customers. This is often the unspoken objection, the sales elephant in the room. Salespeople that are emotionally tuned into their prospects and customers bring up potential concerns about doing business, which in turn builds trust, credibility and ‘real world’ conversations.
- Reasoning with emotions to promote thinking and cognitive activity in their expression. Masterful salespeople tune into their prospects and customers communication style. They are careful to match and mirror rate body language, energy level, pace and volume of speech. People buy from people they like and trust. A high EQ salesperson pays attention and matches their prospects preferred style of communication which increases the likeability factor.
- Understanding emotions, which requires critical thinking to fully grasp their source and complete meaning.
That which you are not aware of you are bound to repeat.
- And in sales and sales management, there are way too many sales team repeating the same mistakes! High EQ salespeople and sales managers are aware of the various triggers that can cause them to emotionally respond in a manner they regret. Without an awareness of one’s own emotions, salespeople and sales managers can fall into the trap of letting emotions manage their day rather than good problem solving and empathy skills.
- Managing emotions, including regulating your own emotions and responding appropriately to the emotions of others. There are many places in the sales process where salespeople get triggered, defaulting to fight or flight responses. As a result, all those good sales training skills exit the room and emotions start running the sales conversations. Salespeople start talking too much and listening too little. A good negotiator gets a salesperson to discount, even when she knows her product and services are a better value. Effective emotion management allows salespeople to consistently execute the hard-selling skills, consultative skills. It is the key in bridging the knowing and doing gap.
The branches of this model are arranged from basic psychological processes to those of a more complex and integrated nature. Some believe that these abilities are inborn, but we have found that through education, training, and guidance, EI can be developed and strengthened in nearly anyone.
Can EI be learned? Of course. Through training, you can develop the tools you need to effectively perceive, reason, understand, and manage emotions. This, in turn, can result in more beneficial relationships with current and potential customers, greater productivity, and enhanced workplace interactions.
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Soft skills do produce hard sales results.