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What is a Sales Pro's Most Essential Character Trait?

You've probably heard about the concept of Emotional Intelligence (sometimes called Emotional Quotient or EQ), an idea that surfaced some years ago in a bestselling book by professor Daniel Goleman. EQ is roughly similar to IQ (Intelligence Quotient), but measures your ability to use "street smarts" to deal effectively with other people. EQ is comprised by the following 15 character traits:
  • Self-regard. The ability to realistically appreciate your strengths and accept your limitations.
  • Emotional self- awareness. The ability to recognize and understand what you are feeling and why.
  • Assertiveness. The ability to express feelings, beliefs, and thoughts openly.
  • Independence. The ability to be self-directed and self-controlled in your thinking and actions.
  • Self-actualization. The ability to pursue activities that develop your unique abilities and talents.
  • Empathy. The ability to be aware of, to understand, and to appreciate the feelings of others.
  • Interpersonal relationships. The ability to maintain emotional closeness through social interchanges.
  • Social responsibility. The ability to be a contributing and constructive member of your social group.
  • Adaptability. The ability to accept things as they are and to change what can be changed.
  • Flexibility. The ability to adjust your emotions and behavior to changing situations and conditions.
  • Problem solving. The ability to identify problems and generate effective solutions.
  • Optimism. The ability to view the world as moving in a generally positive direction.
  • Happiness. The ability to enjoy oneself and others and to feel satisfied with one's life.
  • Stress tolerance. The ability to withstand adverse events, stressful situations, and strong emotions.
  • Impulse control. The ability to regulate your emotions and to resist the temptation to act in haste.
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According to sales psychology expert Rob Scher, the most essential character trait for a sales professional is Emotional self-awareness.
The reason is simple. Emotional self-awareness pre-determines the ability of a sales rep to identify and use his or her emotions to build a stronger customer relationship. According to Scher, in a sales situation, emotional self-awareness plays itself out according to a three-step process:
  1. Diagnosis. You consider your own internal processes to identify the precise emotions that you're feeling.
  2. Analysis. Based on your experience with your own emotions and behaviors, you predict how those emotions are likely to affect your sales effort.
  3. Adaptation. You devise ways to overcome or negate negative emotions that might hinder the sale, while simultaneously expanding and strengthening the positive emotions that might help you move the sales forward.
For example, suppose, on the first sales call of the morning, your prospect stood you up. No call; no message; nada.

If this is the kind of situation that really gets under your skin and you aren't self-aware, you might pretend to yourself that you don't care, and then go on your next sales call, only to find that your irritation is bleeding into your second meeting. You're angry, but not self aware enough to know that you need to change your emotional state. The prospect feels uneasy and uncomfortable and wonders if you're angry at her for some reason.

With emotional self-awareness, the second sales call might go quite differently. You might take a break before your second meeting in order to recover your temper. (In other words, you'd change your physiology and focus.) Alternatively, you might, as an icebreaker, tell the second prospect that you're having a tough day.

Regardless of what action you take, with emotional self-awareness, you ensure that your emotions either help to move the sale forward rather than hinder your sales effort. In other words, Emotional self-awareness underpins every interaction that you have with every customer, so without it, everything else is pretty well useless.

READERS: Do you agree with Rob? Or is there some characteristic that's even more important?