EI is the IQ for Top Salespeople – What’s Yours and How Do You Improve It

Emotional intelligence (EI or EQ) is the secret sauce in sales. Studies of top sales people have confirmed it is far more important than IQ for the sales professional. Emotion cuts through all logic and rationale and spurs the buying decision, so those who understand their own emotions and how they affect others’ can make more money. This is what is called emotional intelligence for sales success.

Let’s test yours!

  1. You enter the buyer’s office. The buyer types furiously at his computer for a moment, looks harried, and motions you to sit without looking at you. He finally stops typing, looks at you and says, “Okay what do you got?”

Which is the better approach?

  1. “Thanks for your time. Let me cut to the chase. As you know, Joe Smith referred me to you because I saved him 30 percent on his stationery, and he wanted me to try to do the same for you. Interested?”
  2. “Well before I introduce you to our products, I’d like to know a bit more about you. How long have you been with the company?”

The salesperson with high EI knows that the aggressive mannerism of this buyer calls for directness, so A is the better approach. B would likely exasperate the buyer, who is clearly busy and doesn’t want to chitchat.

  1. You are working the booth at a trade show. An older woman in a flowery dress, wearing a large floppy hat and sandals strolls by slowly, taking it all in.

Should you:

  1. Say, “I’ll get to the point; I think you need to watch this demonstration.”
  2. Say, “I love your hat! How is your conference time going so far?”

Those who possess emotional intelligence for sales success would choose B due to her demeanor, pace, and how she chooses to present herself. For this type of buyer, it’s important to break the ice and engage her emotions rather than pitch aggressively.

  1. You have been dealing with a specific buyer for several months. She has requested a lot of technical data from you, read all your white papers, and asked tons of questions. You feel you have answered every concern, and that there should be no objections left.

Which email would be better to send her?

  1. “Hi Patricia. It’s been some time since I started sharing information with you and I wanted to gauge how you feel about moving forward with our Silver plan. If you recall, I estimate an ROI of 150% over the next two years. My supplier has indicated an imminent price increase, so I would like to lock you in at today’s price so there’s no surprises in the future. Can we finalize things this week?”
  2. “Hi Patricia. It’s been a while since we met and you asked for more information. I would LOVE to get you started on our Silver plan asap! We are having an open house next week with a barbecue and live DJ…bring the kids! We can also chat about what it’s going to take to earn your business!”

While choice B might work for extroverted buyers, Patricia is clearly extremely analytical and cautious. She delves into facts and figures and clearly likes to look at things from all angles and think them through. Being overly enthusiastic and friendly might spook her, but talking hard numbers as in choice A would be right up her alley.

  1. Your buyer meets you outside her office and greets you effusively, with a huge smile. “So nice to meet you, please come on in!” Her assistant smiles at you warmly and asks if he can bring you some water or coffee. Sitting down, you notice a large picture of her family and dog hanging on the wall, and a bouquet of freshly cut flowers on the corner of her desk.

What might be the better way to break the ice?

  1. “Your family looks lovely! Is that a Golden Retriever? I had one when I was growing up.”
  2. “I won’t take up too much of your time here. Did you have a chance to look at my PowerPoint?”

Possessing emotional intelligence for sales success allows you to decipher buyer personality types through simple clues. This buyer is obviously an empathetic and expressive person, who takes the time to greet vendors personally and have her assistant offer a beverage. Family and beauty are important, judging from the large family photo and flowers. This sort of buyer invites a personal touch, rather than go right into the pitch or discuss figures right off the bat. A is the better choice here.

  1. You judge your buyer to have a dominant personality. Knowing this type of buyer likes to be shown the big picture right away, you begin your presentation by talking about his company’s pain points and how your service addresses those. Soon after you start, you notice he starts looking disinterested and glassy-eyed.

Should you:

  1. Ask “Am I going too fast? Is there something you didn’t understand?”
  2. Ask “Am I missing the mark on something here? Is there something you feel I should know about your needs before I continue?”

In this case, you probably misread the buyer’s personality type and failed to make an emotional connection. Time to back up and ask about what the buyer feels you are not getting about his needs. Emotional intelligence for sales success would indicate B to be a more effective answer, as it will allow expressive communicators, nurturers and thoughtful analysts to express themselves – building rapport and guiding you to the sale in the process.

How did you do with this quiz? If you got them all correct, congratulations! You natively possess emotional intelligence for sales success. However, if you are not sure, or performed poorly, then I recommend building up your EI through a quality sales aptitude assessment followed up by sales training and personalized coaching.

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