Integrating emotional intelligence skills into the sales profession is a fairly new concept for most sales organizations. Progressive sales organizations such as American Express and Motorola are adopting the knowledge and skills as they know it is an edge in a competitive market.
So what is emotional intelligence and how can it help sales leaders be more effective? Daniel Goleman, author of several books on the topic, defines it as, “The capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.” This definition sounds like it was written specifically for sales managers! Let’s take a look closer look at a few EI skills that yield hard sales results.
Effective sales managers are self-aware and know how their actions or inactions affect others. They understand that when they signed up for a leadership role, they signed up for a starring role in the spotlight. Your sales team is watching to see if you are consistent, fair and respectful. Consistent and fair behavior builds trust and trust is at the foundation of all relationships.
At the end of the day, self aware individuals take time to reflect and ask questions. How did I show up today? Did I control my emotions or did my emotions control me? Was I fair? Was I consistent? If not, what do I need to change or do?
Self awareness can only happen with downtime. In our desire to be connected, many of us are becoming disconnected. Turn off all stimuli and play the ‘ quiet game.’ You will be rewarded with clarity of thought and purpose.
Empathy is the ability to get into someone else’s shoes and see the world from their perspective. Successful sales managers don’t “mass manage.” They know their sales team is made of individuals with unique drivers and motivators. For example, one salesperson needs more public recognition. The next salesperson likes to showcase her talents by teaching others during a sales meeting. Or another salesperson wants to be recognized for being a great team player.
When you were a salesperson, your job was to read the prospect. As a sales manager, your job is to read your people.
In order to be empathetic, you must be focused. Top sales managers know that paying attention is one of the biggest ways to show a person that he is important and appreciated. The empathetic sales manager doesn’t buy into the modern myth of multi-tasking. She puts away her smart phone so she can give a salesperson her full attention. Actions always speak louder than words. How many of you have been guilty of checking email or taking a phone call while meeting with a member of your sales team?
Make a decision to be with your smart phone or your salesperson. It’s called being present and respectful. These behaviors make people motivated work for you. Remember, people work for people, not companies.
Life Long Learning:
The most effective leaders we know are lifelong learners. They are not graduates of ‘Know It All U.’ Instead, they are trying to earn their graduate degree ‘Teach Me More.’ In the emotional intelligence world, it is often referred to as self actualization.
How many of you can say that you are smarter than you were two weeks ago? One month ago? One year ago? The pace of the leader is the pace of the pack. When you model lifelong learning, your sales team will follow your lead. (How many people on your sales team are smarter than they were six months ago?)
Start a book club and have your team discuss one chapter each week. Encourage veterans to mentor newcomers. Teaching always makes you better so it will be a win-win for everyone. Conduct on-going sales training. What doesn’t get repeated goes away. It’s like working out. You can work out and be in great shape one year. However, if you start missing workouts, the six pack abs soon are replaced by six pound abs.
Make it a goal to improve your emotional intelligence skills. People buy from people they like and emotionally intelligent leaders are likeable. Is your sales team buying your ideas and goals?