There are many skills required to be a good salesperson. Confidence, motivation, passion and drive are all important, but perhaps the most important skill of all is emotional intelligence.
What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is the capacity to express and control emotions and to read the emotions of others and respond empathetically. The skill is becoming increasingly valued in the workplace as people become better educated about the importance of managing workplace stress and creating an environment that promotes mental health at work.
Mental Health America has identified emotional intelligence as one of the key factors in cultivating a mentally healthy workplace. People with a high level of emotional intelligence are often referred to as having a high EQ.
Why emotional intelligence matters in the sales industry
Emotional intelligence is a valuable skill to have in any career, but even more so in the sales industry. In a job that requires the ability to break down barriers with total strangers, overcome objections, build relationships and make connections, it's easy to see why the ability to control emotions and respond appropriately is important.
Emotional intelligence can be a real asset when handling objections. Each potential customer will have a unique set of needs as well as their own concerns in the early stages of the sales funnel. Empathizing with customers about their concerns and understanding their point of view makes handling objections so much easier.
Sales objections aren't a bad thing. They present opportunities. A question or objection is a crystal clear insight into a pain point you can solve. Smart, positive salespeople can turn objections into sales by preparing a proactive plan to overcome the most common sales objections.
Rejection is an inevitable part of working in sales, but that doesn't make it easy. Salespeople with high EQ understand that a "no" isn't a rejection of them personally, but of what they do. Emotionally intelligent people are less likely to become stressed or upset by repeated rejections – they are more likely to see it as an opportunity to improve their technique.
In sales there is no one-size-fits-all approach to building rapport with potential new leads. It takes an emotionally intelligent person to read the signals the individual is giving and adapt their pitch accordingly. If the lead seems open and chatty, the salesperson can go with a more informal approach – if the customer prefers to be addressed by their title, then a more respectful and formal tone should be used.
Most people working in sales are chasing the buzz that comes from closing a deal. This can mean that sales reps focus most of their energy on closing deals, in pursuit of the instant gratification that comes with it. This approach can be detrimental to your sales funnel, as it means there are less leads entering at the top. Emotionally intelligent people tend to be more willing to do the work that leads to the reward – this is known as delayed gratification.
Individuals with a high EQ make better managers
Working in sales can take its toll both mentally and emotionally. While there are adrenaline-pumping highs when your whole team feels like celebrating, so, too, are there low points where every path leads to a dead end.
An emotionally intelligent team leader can keep reps feeling positive during the tough times by boosting morale of the entire sales team. Their natural ability to read emotions means they're supportive and empathetic when team members are stressed or feeling pressured, and they know how to help people who might struggle with workplace stress or mental health issues.