The Power of Emotions in Selling

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. Before we talk about he value of emotion in the sales process, lets make sure we understand what is involved in the two, most 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 feed and seed 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.

I decided I wanted to do something different. The father of one of my classmates was a Life Insurance salesperson. Their family always seemed to have a lot of money, they lived in a nice house and always had nice clothes and cars (I know, I know, those are not the real symbols of success). As a 17 year old boy, however, those were some of the things that seemed important.

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 did not really have any adult friends but I made a list of those I suspected were friends of my mother and dad, hoping that would work. I asked if there was anything else and he said, “memorize this question; Will your family have enough to live on if something happened to you?”

That seemed easy enough, so, when I reported 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 (sell something), to bring him the money and application.

Now that is minimal, alright To make money, I had to develop my own process, find my own prospects, collect the money, give it to him, and hope for the best. I did make more money selling Life Insurance that summer and several summers to come (than I would have shoveling grain), but only because I was able use some emotional skills (I know that now, but not then) to build a level of trust between me and the client, quickly and had a unique ability to recover from the proverbial “no,” and was compelled to “keep on keepin’ on” because I could not believe that people could say “no” to such an offer and I needed the money (the latter was probably the most compelling reason). Which brings us to the next method of sales training:

The Process Approach

This approach is almost at 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 there are several sub-steps, but in general, they refer to finding people who have the money to buy, discovering their wants and needs, proving your product meets their 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™ training adds significant value to the sales process is because selling is an emotional event. As such, the more you know about your own emotions and those of others the more successful you can be in a sales role.

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. I do not mean to imply that selling is entirely dependent upon emotional factors, because it is not. There is a certain amount of cognitive ability or rational thinking required in just about every sale. However, the most important parts of the sales process (discovering and asking depend heavily upon emotional awareness and understanding.

It does seem that what you know may get you that sales job but the success you experience, in the job, may be more a result of your emotional awareness. I am certain that many of you have seen sparkling sales candidates fall flat on their faces, not because they were unintelligent but rather 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-It is essential.

Emotional Intelligence is the foundation skill that allows us to building broad and deep networks, communicate benefits in a compelling fashion and make it easy 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 to be the driver of some unbelievable results. In a study of a group of sales people earning a minimum of $250,000 annually and composed of at least two people who earned in excess of $750,000 each year for the last 3 years, we found 3 emotional skills consistent among each of these high performers: Self-Awareness, Empathy and a sense of Well-Being. When we questioned these exceptional producers about this high level of Well-Being, they all had very specific ways in which they managed their moods so that a positive attitude could prevail and were exceptionally Self-Aware and had an unusual sense of others or Empathy.

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