March 26

Emotionally Intelligent Prospecting in Turbulent Times


Do you remember the good ‘ole days? I’m talking about January 2020!  The economy was humming, sales kickoffs and annual awards were celebrated, and many sellers were on their way to their best sales year ever.

And then, for many businesses, the celebrations and high fives stopped because of the impact of COVID-19.  

There is still business to be conducted and relationships to be built. For some organizations this had been a positive trigger event, especially for anyone selling products and services that benefit a new remote workforce.

Be Aware.

Salespeople lacking emotional intelligence skills will blow the opportunity to serve prospects and clients at this critical time. Good intentions might come across as self-serving rather than other serving. 

Sales managers, now, more than ever, is the time to teach your sales team the importance of prospecting with emotional intelligence. I refer to these skills as the big Es.

#1: Empathy. Sales managers, at your next group sales meeting, ask each member of the team to pause and write down what it’s like to be in their prospect’s business right now. Charles Eisenstein, author and speaker, shares a great question that’s important for all of us to ask during these times:

“What’s it like to be you?”

When your sales team understands the answer to that question, they will be equipped to integrate empathy into their prospecting outreaches.

For example, a salesperson selling video conferencing services has a huge opportunity to truly help prospects. But if the salesperson starts pitching the benefits of their tech tool and why it’s so important in today’s virtual business environment, the outreach will fall flat.

It’s important for sellers to first acknowledge what is going on in this prospects business.  A business owner might be reeling from layoffs he just had to make. Or, she is wondering how effective is her field sales team going to be as they transition to inside sales.

Make sure your sales team addresses the question, “what’s it like to be you” in their prospecting outreaches. Empathy first, expertise second.

#2: Emotion Management. The real buyer in any selling situation is your prospect’s reptilian brain. And right now, there are a lot of reptilian brains running the decision-making show. Prospects might be operating from a position of fear. They are looking for safety, not risk.

So, what can you and your sales team do to make buying your products and services safer?

Some companies share videos on their website, showing what they are doing to keep their customers and employees safe. My mother-in-law is in assisted living and we just got a note sharing how all mail is cleaned with disinfectant before delivering to the rooms.

I’ve seen companies offering more “try before you buy” opportunities to lower the risk and build trust. 

Many are offering a guarantee. 

Make it safe to work with your company.

Henry Bruckstein, founder of Campaign Stars, a sales enablement company, and I were discussing this fine balance last week. He shared some great wisdom. “This is a time to deepen relationships or put a dent in a relationship.”

Sales managers, teach your sales team the big Es of effective prospecting. Demonstrate empathy and sell to the real buyer, the emotional brain.

Good Selling!


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