How to close more deals by using emotional intelligence in your sales process.


Do you ever feel disconnected from your prospects?

Like they’re just not picking up what you’re putting down?

Chances are they’re feeling it too.

It’s easy for salespeople to be so passionate about their service or product that it becomes overpowering for their prospects. Your leads want to know how your service can help them, not necessarily just a list of features you have to offer.

The skill of understanding that difference comes from emotional intelligence.

In today’s blog, we’re going to discuss:

  • What emotional intelligence actually is
  • Why it’s essential for salespeople
  • How to best use it to close more sales

What is emotional intelligence?

We know some of you sat there are thinking, what on earth is emotional intelligence?

Sometimes known as Emotional Quotient or EQ, it’s the skill of understanding the thoughts and feelings of somebody else.

For example, salespeople with a high EQ know their prospects needs, can put themselves in their clients’ shoes and learn how to treat them according to their concerns and pain points.

According to the World Economic Forum, this isn’t just a fancy psychology tick box exercise; emotional intelligence has been ranked as one of the essential skills to have by 2025.

Why is emotional intelligence so critical in sales?

So apart from professional success, what else makes EQ an essential skill for salespeople to develop?

It helps solve your customers’ problems.

As we’ve just discussed, emotional intelligence is the ability to understand your customers or prospects thoughts and feelings and act according to those.

Look at it from your client’s perspective; you’d want your salesperson to go above and beyond to help you. The main idea behind real emotional intelligence is not to make the customer feel pressured to make a purchase but to actively listen to their concerns.

You need to understand how they feel about things and support them, but you also need to be willing to give them space so that they can come to a decision themselves.

A salesperson with a high EQ is aware of the problems that their prospects are trying to solve. By mentioning out loud and acknowledging it in conversation, followed by demonstrating how your product or service could resolve it – a salesperson can present a real understanding of their prospect.

The key here is, to be honest. What can be resolved, how it can be done, a realistic timeline, and then allow your prospect time to take your proposal in.

It can help decrease staff turnover. 

The process of hiring staff is challenging.

Not only does it waste precious time, you could spend otherwise developing your team, but it also causes issues with your customer experience. Each new hire needs training and to be brought up to speed before they can truly represent your company in the best way.

However, if you select salespeople based on their emotional competence, it actually results in 63% less turnover during the first year!

And the more salespeople you can keep on board by developing their emotional intelligence, the less time you have to spend on hiring and training new ones.

It can help generate more revenue.

Everyone knows its salespeople’s job to sell.

However, with emotional intelligence training, they can bring your business even more revenue. Studies have shown that sales reps with high EQ produced twice the revenue of those with average or below-average scores.

L’Oreal put this to the test to determine whether EQ training helped their reps to close more deals.

The result?

Sales representatives who received the training outsold the control group by an average of 12%. That equated to over $55,000 (almost £ 40’000) each. Meanwhile, the ROI for the training was $6 (£4.50).  

How to put emotional intelligence into practice:

Although traditionally, emotional intelligence is considered a soft skill that comes naturally to some and not others. We prefer to think of it as a skill that can be developed and taught over time.

The top categories of EQ are:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-regulation
  3. Social skills
  4. Empathy
  5. Motivation

Focusing on these five areas during your sales training can help your salespeople build emotional intelligence over time.

Here’s how you can do it:

Building self-awareness. 

It’s easy to fall behind on one to ones with your staff, especially when working remotely. Sometimes it feels that a monthly team check-in is enough to report and reflect on goals.

But it’s vital to schedule regular check-ins with each member of your team.

This is because it’s the time you get to explore their strengths and weaknesses. You can explain how they do an excellent job at lead conversion, but maybe they aren’t so great at time management.

Don’t be afraid to point out areas where improvements can be made during your coaching sessions; the more constructive feedback you can give, the more your salespeople will be aware of their skills.

This builds the self-awareness needed for emotional intelligence.

Allow autonomy. 

Autonomy is giving your salespeople the freedom to do what they think is best in any given situation.

Many studies have shown that giving a workforce autonomy results in positive effects on well-being and job satisfaction.

It also helps to develop self-regulation – one of the five key areas of emotional intelligence.

By allowing your reps to have autonomy over their work, they have to make their own decisions based on their specific prospects needs and wants.

For example: in your company-wide sales process, you have to contact your prospect via email two to three days after the initial phone call. However, this prospect previously expressed the need for a sooner follow-up, so your salesperson uses their initiative and schedules a call for the next day.

If your sales representatives don’t have the autonomy to do what they think is best, they won’t be able to reach optimistic sales targets.

Encourage your salespeople to become brand representatives. 

The third pillar of EQ that your sales training should focus on is social skills.

This goes far beyond just talking to your prospects and clients.

Encourage your team to become thought leaders in your industry, building their own personal brand and your companies too. This could include sharing expertise on LinkedIn, attending conferences and webinars, or simply connecting with other industry professionals.

Not only does this increased presence and participation help your salespeople build their social skills outside of your client base, but it also helps grow your brand reputation too.

Teach them to think like their prospects. 

Every service or product solves a specific pain point for a particular type of client.

Teaching your sales representatives to build empathy by always looking to define the problem that they are solving for their potential clients. Encourage them to ‘become’ that person and really get into the thoughts and feelings they’re experiencing when a salesperson contacts them.

Encourage them to ask themselves open-ended questions such as:

  • How would this person feel right now?
  • What would they want to know during the sales process?
  • What information do they need to feel ready to buy?

When your sales team knows how their prospective clients feel, they can apply that to their tonality throughout the process.

Provide ongoing training unique to each of your salespeople. 

Sales training improves the performance of an individual on average by 20%.

On top of your standard sales training that keeps them up to date with best practice, use your check-in meetings as a way to deliver the training each salesperson really wants.

Each member of your team will likely have a different learning style and preferences. Some might want to attend conferences. Others might simply want the option to expense for sales books or third-party training sessions.

Uncover the learning styles for your individual sales representatives and give them access to materials in that format.

Remember: emotional intelligence can generate £4.50 in revenue for every £1 you’re spending on it. Don’t be afraid to give your team the tools they need – it pays off in the long run.

In summary:

It’s often overlooked just how important emotional intelligence in sales is.

Historically hard and aggressive selling was considered the most effective way for salespeople to behave. But with time, just like so many other things, their sales style has become, if not wholly obsolete, most definitely less effective and less well-received.

In this new future of sales, the ability to control your own feelings, listen to other people’s concerns, appreciate their emotions, be honest and allow people to make rational but not rushed choices are invaluable to the thriving, modern salesperson.

Salespeople with a high EQ will stay at a workplace longer, sell more products or services to the people who really need them, increase customer loyalty, close more deals, and promote the human values of the brand that they represent.

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Published: 8th March 2021

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