According to more than 230 buyers, a recent study found that 12% of salespeople are excellent, 23% good, 38% average, and 27% poor. This would explain other reports that the sales industry experiences higher rates of turnover than others.
One of the major takeaways from this study is the lack of self-awareness that under-performing salespeople exhibit. Salespeople do not know why buyers don't value the relationship and deals, or why longtime clients end up with the competition. This lack of self-awareness stunts empathy, which can lead to blame and toxic interactions (we have had our own recent personal experiences with these types of salespeople, which in part sparked this article).
Using a tool like CONVERSATIONS That (or many others that are out there), learning emotional intelligence leads to self-awareness and empathy, which always results in better sales. Here are seven areas in relation to the aforementioned study:
Trust and Respect
Only 18% of the salespeople buyers met over the past year would be classified as trusted advisers whom they respect. The right conversations create a relationship built upon open and reflective communication that builds trust and mutual respect. In other words, instead of seeing the interaction as only transactional, EQ skills keep everything relational which is what buyers really want.
Conversing with the Real Decision Makers
Buyers report that fewer than one out of three salespeople can hold an effective conversation with senior executives. While salespeople may have the skills to "smooth talk" gatekeepers or other front-line personnel, it takes much more to close the deal with the real decision makers, such as senior executives. EQ-based conversational skills allow the salesperson to make connections across all levels of the organization and get all buyers on the same page.
Being Clear About Problems and Solutions
Buyers say only 54% of salespeople they meet with can clearly explain how their solution impacts the buyer’s business. We believe this mainly comes down to a lack of understanding of the buyer's problems in the first place. By asking the right open questions and using reflective listening, clarity of the solution becomes much easier to convey.
44% believed salespeople are only serving their own agenda, 25% indicated salespeople only care about making the sale, 23% were uncomfortable because it is difficult to say no. Unfortunately this contributes to the stereotype that salespeople are self-centered and self-serving. Emotionally intelligence salespeople are self-aware and use empathy to always stay customer-focused.
Typical hard close techniques such as, “This is the last time we’ll be able to extend this offer and we need an answer now,” were rated least effective, yet the hard close is always the most common. The best closing technique is a collaborative one by asking questions such as, "What would give you the most confidence to make a decision today?" This can then be followed up with reflective listening and summary techniques to close the sale.
Even after considerable due diligence, one of the primary reasons a purchase isn’t made is because the salesperson hasn’t alleviated the risk of buying. The less risk the buyer feels, the more they are willing to make a commitment. To do this however, the salesperson must understand that risk is always based upon emotions regardless of how the buyer presents them. Emotional risk is different for everybody. This makes EQ even more important in understanding the risks and addressing them to build trust.
Making a Personal Connection
There were five reasons buyers could not make a personal connection with a particular salesperson:
- The salesperson was too pushy.
- There was a difference in communication styles.
- The salesperson’s personality was very different from mine.
- The salesperson was too eager to befriend me.
- There was a difference in age.
On top of the above five, 81% of buyers indicated they would rather talk with someone with whom they share the same mannerisms. All of this, again, demonstrates how important emotional intelligence skills are in sales. When a salesperson uses self-awareness and empathy, personal connections become natural and any buyer biases or perceptions can be overcome.