Emotional Intelligence in Selling

Last Updated Jul 6, 2011 2:13 AM EDT

What prompted this blog is an article by Kirsty Spraggon The Emotional Intelligence of Sales...
Kirsty begins her article by attributing to Goleman the famous misquote that as IQ is responsible for determining about 20% of our chances for success then the other 80% is determined by our social and interpersonal skills & our emotional intelligence. Goleman himself has refuted this misquote and corrected it by saying "if IQ reportedly only accounts for 20% of success, that leaves 80% unaccounted for â€" and some part of that may be due to EI." In reality most industrial psychologists would say that IQ would account for 50-60% for success in life which crowds out emotional intelligence along with such factors as motivation, parental wealth, education, class, parental status, other siblings, ranking in sibling status, physical health, mental health, MBTI, DISC profile, star sign, etc.

Kirsty then went on in her article that her sales training paid little heed to emotions and emotional intelligence. While this may have been the case for real estate sales people but it was very different for me. I started my sales career in the early 1970s selling computer mainframes and the first rule I learned was that you sell to the heart and not the head. In other words, you need to appeal to a prospect emotionally rather than sell him or her logically. In the past 50 years, there has been a whole host of sales training programs based on profiling prospects, particularly using NLP, DISC or Myers-Briggs technologies. Yes, sales training programs may not specified EQ per se, but there have been many sales training programs developed over the past 50 years that try to help sales people understand the emotional drives of prospects.

In her article Kirsty then goes on to emphasise the importance of developing relationships with clients. Of course this is important. The second rule that I learnt in my sales career was that it is better to open relationships than close sales. However, she does raise an interesting question? Can the techniques of emotional intelligence help you as a sales person open more relationships?

If there is one rule that does apply in emotional relationships, which has been proven again and again by the organisational psychologists, it is that we like those who are like ourselves. Readers of my blogs will know I am a fervent believer in the Humm-Wadsworth model of temperament or our genetically based core emotions. The Humm model says we all have seven core emotions; two are typically dominant and two weak. We tend to like those people who match one of our two strong components. When I look back at my sales history this is certainly true. I have high P & E. Those people with whom I have been able to develop a long relationship have had either a high P or E component.

However the converse is true. We find it difficult, unless we have been trained, to connect emotionally with people who are not like us. My weak components are A & D. I have often closed sales with As & Ds, but it was only in the later stages of my business career that I was able to develop a long-term relationship with someone who has had either a strong D or A component.

There is a further problem with relationship selling and that is personality dissonance. There are certain Humm components that don't get along with each other. For example, the extroverted, communicative, multi-tasking Mover alienates the introverted, project orientated, task driven engineer. They not only do not connect emotionally; they alienate each other. It is difficult to conceive of an open relationship developing between a Mover and Engineer.

Developing open relationships is a key factor in sales success. However, you should not assume that wanting to develop open relationships with clients is enough. You need to understand what your core emotional drives are. Doing this simple quiz is a start. Even more importantly you need to develop the social mastery of the emotionally intelligent person who has developed empathy and social skills.