The Emotionally Intelligent Sales Manager
Emotional intelligence (EI or EQ) is a key factor in sales management. Sales managers who excel in empathy, rapport-building, and confidence help salespeople to feel positive about their job and to bring increased sales results.
Contrary to the belief that emotional intelligence (EI or EQ) equals being soft or a push over, EI is a key factor for success in effective leadership. This is even more so in sales management, where emotionally intelligent leadership can prevent burnout and a high staff churn rate. A trustworthy, supportive, and enthusiastic sales manager can help salespeople to feel positive about their job, to build rapport with leads, and to stay motivated.
Motivating the sales team – how an emotionally intelligent sales manager does it
Sales is a stressful, challenging job. While financial reward is the most sought-after compensation for success, it is a mistake to disregard workplace atmosphere as a motivator. A positive company culture and an appreciative sales manager can attract and keep top-performing professionals.
Emotionally intelligent sales managers recognize that their daily interaction with their team can affect their salespeople’s well-being and performance. Likely former sales reps themselves, they know that earning their team’s trust is as important for success as earning a lead’s trust to make a sale. They also know that in a managerial role their team members are their most important, long-term customers.
In order to decrease stress and increase sales productivity, emotionally intelligent sales managers build a high-EI culture. At the organizational level this means embracing feedback, both top-down and bottom-up! While being open to employee opinions may make managers feel vulnerable, it is a powerful tool to teach. As they receive and respond to criticism, they can model:
- Active listening
- Avoiding defensive behavior, and
- Openness to learn from failure.
Similarly, by receiving and giving praise, managers and sales reps practice socials skills that create a positive environment. Salespeople who are asked for advice feel important, and thus motivated to increase their expertise, skills, and sales.
Successful training and development
Given that emotional intelligence can be learned, sales managers should dedicate consistent efforts to EI training and development. Because EI is specific to individuals, development plans should be personalized, where possible. Start from personality-based individual assessments, and set goals with the sales rep for areas to work on. Some of the skill gaps to focus on include self-awareness, emotional expression, relationship building, and stress tolerance.
Sales reps who are aware of and can harness their emotions can build successful relationships and bring results. Whatever their personal challenges may be, they can seize the initiative and start developing their EQ individually. However, when these efforts are coordinated with their sales managers, they can get access to additional help and tools.
Group training – let the emotionally intelligent sales manager become a coach
In group settings, sales managers should focus on developing skill sets regarding how to interpret a situation, what to say, when, and how. Design workshops with real life examples about:
- Analyzing leads to discover emotional desires
- Developing practical presentation strategies tailored to individual leads
- Anticipating potential objections and appropriate handling techniques, and
- Closing techniques for various personality types.
Emotions are part of being human, and purchase decisions are clearly influenced by emotions. Therefore, in the ever-changing, global business environment, improved empathy selling skills are imperative. Managers who lead sales teams with emotional intelligence create a positive culture within the company. This, in turn, results in more engaged employees with higher rates of job satisfaction.
Developing sales representatives’ awareness of self and others contributes to healthy relationships with coworkers and customers, and stimulates better work performance. Seek sales managers who excel in empathy, rapport-building, and confidence, and trust their skills to bring increased sales results.