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Emotionally-intelligent Selling

This thread starts with a basic premise, two assumptions and a clear intention. Premise: Emotional Intelligence is a critical sales capability, perhaps the most important in terms of developing and sustaining a base of loyal customers. Assumption #1: It’s largely ignored in current typical sales training and on-the-job sales learning. Assumption #2: Consistent top sales performers have always demonstrated a high degree of emotional intelligence – even if they weren’t consciously aware that’s what they were doing.

The intention of this thread is to use this forum to make the awareness and practice of emotionally-intelligent selling more widespread (conscious competence) by tapping and leveraging the expertise and collective wisdom of the group.

First Questions [EI Self-Awareness]: What do you do to develop your own self-awareness?
  • Recognizing your emotions and their effect on your behavior
  • Knowing your personal style preferences (and blind spots) in dealing with others
  • Continually building self-confidence that is independent of the feedback you receive from others (e.g. managers and customers)
- by tom behr
I'm assuming with the third bullet you mean negative feedback.

I believe selling starts with you; that is, having the confidence to involve your prospects with whatever you may be selling. I normally don't think about what state of mind I'm in while selling as I'm focused on the prospect. As far as style preferences go, I simply have none as I regard all prospects as equal in deserving my best.

A question for you for clarification: what is Emotional Intelligence? - by Wonderboy
In Goleman’s most recent description, Emotional Intelligence breaks into two area of competence: “Self” (Personal Competence) and “Other” (Social Competence). Within each of these two areas, Goleman further breaks EI into two types of competency: Awareness and Management. (Draw a four box grid with Self and Other on top and Awareness and Management on the left.)

Self Awareness means understanding how one’s emotions shape (or limit) one’s perceptions, beliefs and emotional responses, and thus largely determine both personal behavior and the results of that behavior (e.g. making a sale or meeting a sales quota).

Self Management means using that self awareness to modify or adapt one’s perceptions, beliefs and emotional responses to behave differently and get better results. Both areas of Social Competence, Awareness and Management, can mean learning how to help customers do the same for themselves (a "sale" really is based on customers deciding to think and behave differently).

Why does this matter? While there’s still a lot of academic debate within the EI field (see the Wikipedia article if you have the patience for scholarly wrangling), this much seems unarguably clear:
  • Contrary to what we consciously think (and want to believe), our subconscious mind is really in the driver’s seat in determining behavior and decisions (such as a customer saying “yes” to a sales proposal). The value of Awareness is understanding why we (and our customers) really do what we do.
  • Stressful situations (such as selling) can cause the subconscious mind to “short-circuit” (what happens when we “lose it.” ) Our fears and anxieties take over, bypassing the conscious, thinking brain functions in what Goleman and others call an “Emotional Hijacking” of the brain.
  • Our perceptions determine what we believe is “reality.” As Goleman says in Vital Lies, Simple Truths: The Psychology of Self-Deception, the range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice there is little we can do to change until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.
Bill Kistner has pinpointed the best sources. I would recommend starting with Primal Leadership. Skim Chapter 1, looking for “How moods impact results” and “Emotional Hijacking,” substituting “salesperson” (or “customer”) for “leader. Then dig into Chapter 3 and spend time with it. If you’re still looking to get a high-level overview, I’d go then to Chapter 6. But the whole book has a lot of meat in it, since whether the subject is leadership or selling (or personal relationships), Goleman’s still describing human behavior. - by tom behr
[quote=Wonderboy;22489]I'm assuming with the third bullet you mean negative feedback.

I believe selling starts with you; that is, having the confidence to involve your prospects with whatever you may be selling. I normally don't think about what state of mind I'm in while selling as I'm focused on the prospect. As far as style preferences go, I simply have none as I regard all prospects as equal in deserving my best.
--------------------------------
Hi Wonderboy-
Actually, I meant all feedback - praise and criticism. If we govern our behavior by what others think of us we can get caught in the "hampster wheel" of chasing self-esteem.

Merely as a point for discussion, I believe selling starts with our customers - because they're the ones that have the money and take the risks associated with buying.;sm

During the sales call, I'd agree that having a clear mind, focused on the customer, is critical. Some thoughts to consider: have you ever gotten frustrated, angry or dejected in a sales (or personal) relationship? Have you ever enthusiastically jumped to conclusions that turned out to be incorrect? Have you seen customers do the same? What do you think is happening in those moments?
Thanks,
Tom - by tom behr
First Questions [EI Self-Awareness]: What do you do to develop your own self-awareness?
  • Recognizing your emotions and their effect on your behavior
  • Knowing your personal style preferences (and blind spots) in dealing with others
  • Continually building self-confidence that is independent of the feedback you receive from others (e.g. managers and customers)
What CAN a person do to develop this self-awareness Tom? - by Frankie
What CAN a person do to develop this self-awareness Tom?
Hi Frankie-

For me, the starting point in EI Self-awareness was learning to respect the fact that people are different, and that these differences matter. To understand one’s self in relation to others, an easy step is to take almost any of the standard personal style preference instruments such as DiSC, MBTI, TRACOM’s Social Style Model (Larry Wilson’s original model), Acumen, or my favorite, Firo-B. Many of these are available on-line, some free, others for a $35-$50 fee that’s a smart investment. Just google the names.

Some important insights: We’re all unique in various ways. No one of us has all the answers. “My way” is just “my way,” not “the highway.” If there is a highway, it’s the one we travel collaboratively with customers. Complex tasks (like making and implementing a “sale” that leads to a happy, loyal customer) require a variety of different skills, styles and “intelligences.” We need each others’ differences.

Then read the chapters I recommended earlier in Goleman’s books on Emotional Intelligence to pick up the next critical insights: our style preferences can easily cause us to misunderstand, or not even be aware of what’s going on in our relationships. Our need to feel “right,” respected, in control and competent, or “safe” can cause us to belittle, ignore, or even compete against people who are “different” from us. (In order for us to be “right,” they have to be “wrong.”) “Right” and “wrong” matter a whole lot in human behavior – but it’s worth thinking about whether the same importance exists when we talk about style and personality differences.

Learning to work with others in a world in which there is no simple “right and wrong” in terms of people’s personality and style is the focus of “social” emotional intelligence.

Learning to recognize our own blind spots, limitations and prejudices (and the behaviors that result) is at the core of “personal” emotional intelligence.


Hope this helps.
Tom
- by tom behr
In answer to Tom's question, "What do you do to develop your own self-awareness?":

I observe what is going on in the room. I'm in the room. So I observe me. By that I meaning tuning in to what is going on inside me as words or situations arise.

I never took any EI test, but I would consider myself as having a high degree of emotional intelligence. I believe that one of the traits of people who rate low in that area lack the ability to observe themselves as they are feeling things. - by Joe Closer
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