The "one and done" business growth strategy is no longer an option if you want to grow over the long term. Going from client to client and extracting the maximum fee from each, then moving on is a fast way to go out of business. Alternatively, a business can have access to the most up-to-date database imaginable, but if the sales team doesn't see those prospects as more than data entries, it's next to useless.
To generate long-term revenue, business owners and sales people need to draw on their Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in order to build trust with their prospects. EQ is more than just learning how to "read" people and situations and manipulating them to your advantage to make a sale or get a good referral. It's the ability to utilize soft skills to connect with others in a meaningful way.
The digital age has commoditized business and personal relationships to such a degree that the number of "friends", "likes", or "followers" is often more important than the quality of those relationships. This has created a higher awareness of the importance of EQ in relationship building.
A lack of soft skills will take a toll on the bottom line. Prospects hate to feel like they are merely potential revenue sources for sales people who simply want to "hit their targets". Winning their business should involve much more than a sales call, presentation, or a lunch. It is about taking the time to build a relationship while offering useful information and showing a genuine interest in them and their business over the long term. In their eyes, it is about them, not the person trying to make the sale.
Make the most of your EQ
Here are a few things to consider to utilize your EQ to drive long-term business growth.
- EQ is driven by a high level of personal awareness. Understand exactly what you are trying to accomplish, your mastery of the skills that will help you reach your goals, and your commitment to helping others reach theirs. Take the time to think things through. It's about working smart, not hard.
- EQ involves a range of skills that not everyone is born with. These skills include active listening, communicating in a way that reflects the audience or situation, empathy (or being able to appreciate and understand what others are feeling), and assertiveness, to name a few. You may not have these skills, but you can work to learn them.
- People often wrongly associate EQ with simply "playing well with others" or "being a nice person." They are surprised that assertiveness is one of the most valued attributes of a person with high EQ. For example, let's say you want to present a proposal that will take time to prepare. If you go ahead without any idea of the prospect's budget, you risk the chance of being too low or too high. Asking a prospect to reveal their budget can be difficult. But when you are assertive and ask and they say they don't have a budget, you simply say that you don't invest time in preparing a proposal without budget guidelines. The prospect will either respect your reasoning and name the budget, or not - in which case you politely withdraw having saved time, emotional energy, and money.
- The ability to delay your need for gratification is important. Pressure to meet sales and overall business goals is always present. Most people are constantly scanning their networks for sales leads and referrals. When you connect with a promising prospect or earn a qualified referral, your expectation is that revenue will soon follow. This is often not the case and you may feel it's not worth your while to expend the time and energy on a prospect that isn't going to 'pay out' quickly. The most successful sales professionals liken sales success to planting a tree and giving it time to grow. (That metaphor is over-used but it's for a reason.) Understanding the need to patiently do the work over time to earn the results you want is not a complicated thought, but is essential for long-term success.
- Your inability to reach your sales goals may not be due to poor selling skills. Sales success relies heavily on learned technical skills such as involving watching for signals, knowing what to say in any situation to overcome objections, and how to negotiate. You may have those skills down cold but if you cannot establish an emotional connection with your prospect, you will come across as insincere and robotic. Examples of low EQ in selling situations include the use of "my friend" instead of their name when addressing the prospect; or, "I don't share this with many people but ..." and overloading prospects with information to try and impress them with your knowledge. The ability to be authentic and communicate in a manner that rings true to your audience is just as important as professional certainty to earn the trust and business of a prospect.
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