Most organizations that maintain a sales force believe in just two approaches to advancing the sales skills of their sales team: The Minimalist Approach and the Process Approach. Few if any ever consider the impact emotions have on sales success. Most organizations still hire sales people based on what they know and their past experience. Before we talk about he value of emotions in the sales process lets make sure we understand what is involved in the popular sales training methods. A brief explanation of the Minimalist and the Process sales approach may properly set the stage for a productive discussion about what is really needed to grow a “World Class” sales team.
The Minimalist Approach
This approach may best be exemplified by a story about my own entry into the sales profession, nearly half a century ago. I was 17 and getting ready for the summer between my Junior and Senior year in High School. For the previous 4 summers I had worked in the local grain elevator shoveling wheat, sacking and stacking grain in the warehouse and emptying boxcars filled with grain. All good solid jobs but no real skills I felt I could transfer to advance my future success.
I decided I wanted to do something different. The father of one of my classmates was a Life Insurance salesperson. They always seemed to have a lot of money, they lived in a nice house and always had nice closes and cars (I know, I know those are not the real symbols of success). As a 17 year old boy, those were some of the things that seemed important then.
So one day I went to my friend’s father and ask him if I could work for him this coming summer. He was a positive type of guy (you really have to be positive to be successful selling life insurance) and immediately said yes to my request.
With the school year nearing an end, I was anxious to get started and asked my new boss “what can I do to prepare for this job?” I was surprised by his answer, which was “not much, really.” He handed me a rate book and said for me to make a list of all my adult friends. I asked if there was anything else and he said, “memorize this question; Will your family have enough to on if you were gone?”
When I came to work, his directions were to call all my adult friends and tell them I was selling “security” and ask them if I could come and share with them, how they could get some. That was pretty much it. He told me I would work on commission only, meaning that I only earned money if I sold something and told me when I did to bring him the money and application.
Now that is minimal. To make money, I had to develop my own process. I did make more money selling Life Insurance that summer and several summers to come but only because I was able to build a level of trust between me and the client, quickly and was compelled to keep on keepin’ on because I needed the money. Some how I knew there must be a better way. Which brings us to the next method of sales training:
The Process Approach
This approach is almost to the opposite end of the spectrum of training (almost none to almost too much). From nothing to everything or almost everything. The Process approach teaches a step-by-step process for making a sale. While there are many versions, they all include some form of the following:
Within each of these 4 steps are often a several sub-steps, but in general, they refer to finding people who need what you have to sell, discovering their wants and needs, proving how your product meets those wants and needs and finally, asking for agreement and the check. It is often much more complex or robust than what I have presented here, but it is still a process.
Some degree of success is gained by both approaches but we believe there is even a better way – The EI Powered way.
The reason EI Powered Salesmanship™ may be better is because there is an element that is not present in the two previously mentioned sales training methodologies: Emotional Intelligence.
Emotional Intelligence is essential to selling because selling is an emotional event. Understanding your own emotions and those of others is almost like reading the book before you see the movie-you know how the movie will end. Two core skills are important to the sales process: Rational Thinking and Emotional Understanding or IQ vs. EQ.
It does seem that what you know may get you that sales job but the ease with which you apply what you know may be more responsible for your success. I am certain that many of you have seen sparkling sales candidates fall flat on their faces, not because they were unable to do the tasks but because they were unable to connect with people, the chief means of transferring knowledge. Learning the emotional skills necessary to connect, build trust, read unspoken concerns is paramount to all the networks built, all the benefits learned, and all the closes mastered.
Emotional Intelligence is the foundation skill to building broad and deep networks, communicating benefits in a compelling fashion and making is natural to ask for agreement and the check. Over the last ten years, hundreds of research projects have proven emotionally intelligent sales people are just, “flat out” more effective than others sometimes as much as 7 times for effective.
In our own research, we found the emotion of happiness or joy a key to superior performance. In a study of a group of sales people earning a minimum of $250,000 annually and compose of at least two people who earned in excess of $750,000 each year for the last 3 years. Among this group we found two emotional skill beyond a sense of Well-being that was consistent among all: High levels of Self-Awareness and Empathy. When we questioned these exceptional producers about this high level of happiness they all had very specific ways in which they managed their moods so that Happiness could prevail and worked exceptionally hard at become Self-Aware and Empathetic.
Educate your sales team on the benefits of emotional intelligence and watch your sales and profits soar. Remember “Selling is an Emotional Event.”