Emotional Intelligence: Three Tips to Hone This Soft Skill

BY Jessica Helinski
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Emotional intelligence is increasingly gaining notoriety as a must-​have trait for successful selling. “Buyers want to trust and feel safe with their vendors,” writes Ben Lai for the LinkedIn Sales Blog. “As a result, patiently building relationships with clients has become necessary to acquire new business.” 

Lai goes on to share three emotional intelligence tips that can help you boost your own sales. He also includes a call to action for each tip, giving you an example of how to implement them.

Emotional intelligence: What is it?

A previous LinkedIn blog post defines emotional intelligence (also known as emotional quotient or EQ) as the following:

Emotional intelligence, or emotional quotient (EQ), refers to one’s fluency with the language of emotion. A person with a high EQ is adept at recognizing and assigning meaning to their own emotions as well as those of others.”

Tip one: Flip your focus

The first tip Lai shares involves making sure you and your sales process is buyer- and value-​centric. Gone are the days when salespeople focused their pitch, presentation — everything — on themselves and what they were selling. Today’s buyers want to be the focus. Sellers need to show prospects how they can help them; this is done with a value-​centric approach. This is where emotional intelligence comes through.

Rather than leading conversations with your product, find something of value you can give regardless of the outcome,” Lai suggests. Demonstrate emotional intelligence by showing you are already thinking about their business and how to provide value. Buyers will be much more receptive if you approach them with an offering instead of a boast or pitch. 

This customer-​centric approach will do wonders for your sales. "Everyone wants to know what is in it for me," explains Director of AdMall Sales Denise Gibson. "Your job in sales is to find a solution that helps your prospective client. You need to help them with something that they are having a problem with. Every interaction should have value."

Make sure that whatever you offer, whether it’s an industry update or new research, is part of your overall sales strategy. Don’t focus on what the outcome might be; this is about building relationships and communicating value. This is using emotional intelligence.

Lai even offers an action challenge to readers: “What value can you offer prospects as an incentive for meeting with you?”

Tip two: Be friendly

Emotional intelligence deals with emotions, so make sure to showcase your positive ones. “Our emotions are highly contagious!” Lai writes. “For better or worse, our emotional state will influence how buyers perceive us.” A warm smile and friendly greeting can do wonders for how prospects perceive you. 

Gibson agrees that friendliness is a must when it comes to selling. "Friendly helps in everything," she says. "No one wants to buy anything from someone who isn’t friendly. Plus, it costs nothing to be friendly."

Tip three: Actively listen

Emotional intelligence relies on your ability to read and understand prospects. You can achieve a deeper level of understanding if you engage in active listening. “The cornerstone of emotional intelligence is our ability to relate to the emotions of others,” he explains. “In sales, this means understanding the minds and hearts of our buyers.” 

A previous Media Sales Today post discussed this soft skill, pointing out that “by engaging in active listening, you are embodying the professional sales rep: Someone who truly values what their customer or prospect is saying to them.”

You can boost your emotional intelligence via active listening by engaging in behaviors like:

  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Observing non-​verbal cues 
  • Asking thoughtful questions
  • Summarizing the essence of a conversation

Emotional intelligence is a skill that is increasingly important to buyers, but not every seller is practicing. You have the opportunity to develop deeper connections with prospects and stand out from the competition by nurturing these skills.