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I have always thought of myself as having a decent amount of emotional intelligence. I grew up as an introvert in a family of extroverts and so I spent more time observing others and less time talking. I don’t know if I fit the true mold of an introvert as I ebb and flow and believe the term for people like me is ‘ambiverts’. We know when to talk and know when to shut up, we spend a lot of time observing others -not in a creepy way, but more in a ‘we can’t get a word in edgewise kind’ of way. I also started reading books on body language at an early age and as I have done my 10,000 hours of sales a few times over I always rated myself as having a high level of EQ.

You can understand my surprise when according to a Sales Competency Assessment tool that we use, I only scored 11% in what was labelled emotional distance. Seeking to understand the reason why, the result makes compete sense.

According to this googled description, emotional intelligence is “being aware of your actions and feelings and how they affect those around you. It also involves being aware of how others are feeling and responding appropriately”. For anyone in sales, EQ is one of the most important skills. This is where despite what we were told growing up, an introvert is often better in sales than an extrovert as the extrovert may be too busy talking to listen.

The part of the competency assessment I failed was in this instance called Emotional Distance which is described as the ability to “avoid getting engaged in the sales process with one’s own or the prospect’s emotions. It shields the sales professional from reacting emotionally instead of objectively and rationally.”

How many of us can remember times, maybe even multiple times when we thought we had an awesome meeting expecting a sale to come out of this? We got on well with the prospect, the prospect was telling us the right things and we left the meeting on a high. We went back to the office and told everyone who cared to listen that we will be working with this customer, only to discover they never return our calls and we never hear from them again. In this case we were led too much by what they were saying and so we fell into the trap of feeling this meeting was going so well that we forgot to run our usual sales process.

The message here is always look to build an emotional connection as we know that people buy on emotion but don’t have your usual sales process derailed by being too emotionally invested. For a true salesperson to add value to a customer they need to take the big picture into account and make sure they follow a great sales process to truly add value.

Some steps to think about and to work on:

  • Recognise when you are in a situation of being too emotionally invested
  • Try and remain aloof to some of the positive or negative comments that clients are saying
  • Stick to a sales process and keep asking the right questions
  • Never forget to set the next steps
  • Watch for rabbit holes that you can easily fall down into of subjects that are interesting to you but add no value in a business context


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