4 Ways Emotional Intelligence Can Improve Your Sales

Cold calls don't have to be demoralizing. They can even be a real, reliable means of growth.

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By Lucas Miller

NBC Universal

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're sitting at your desk after a day of rejections from potential clients. How can you make this next call the one that really counts? Good news: in recent years, research has found that emotional intelligence (EI) is a key factor for success in business — this includes sales.

In sales, EI can be defined as a salesperson's ability to "sense, understand and effectively apply the power of their own emotions during interactions with buyers." In other words, EI is your ability to connect well with buyers on a more personal level.

Several researchers actually consider EI to be more important to success at work than IQ. Even a salesperson with an IQ of 180 won't make a sale without meaningfully calling upon the powers of empathy and intuition. And the best news of all? Unlike IQ, EI is actually teachable and can be significantly improved upon with learning, practice and some patience.

But how much will efforts to increase EI impact your sales numbers?

According to sales research conducted on a pharmaceutical company, sales reps who increased their EI by a mean of 18 percent later improved their total sales revenue by an average of 12 percent. Imagine what a 12 percent increase could do for you both now and in the future!

Research shows that EI impacts sales tremendously. So how can you leverage more EI in your own sales calls? It's simple, really — EI can be broken down into five components:

  • Motivation
  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Regulation
  • Social Awareness
  • Social Regulation

The following discusses how you can improve your individual EI for greater sales call success:

1. Notice your mood and its impact.

Your level of self-awareness can really affect how a prospect perceives you. If you can identify your own emotions and their impact on your prospect's responses, you can have more control over prospect interactions and these interactions' outcomes.

Take a minute to think about your last call. How were you feeling? What was going on in your head? Were personal worries or work problems weighing you down? We all have stressors that impact our mood each day. However, merely taking note of your emotional state can help you notice how (and when) your emotions impact a call.

To further deepen self-awareness, notice how the prospect responded to your emotions. In your last call, were you warm and inviting? If so, did the prospect respond with enthusiasm?

Conversely, if you were feeling bored, did the prospect rush to end the call? Or, if you seemed anxious, did the prospect respond with anxiety, as well? Frustration? Confusion, perhaps?

Reflecting on the dynamic between your emotions and your prospect's emotions can increase your awareness. If you can increase your awareness, you can increase your efforts to control this important dynamic.

Related: 7 Bulletproof Strategies to Increase Sales and Make More Money

2. Find your rhythm.

Self-regulating emotions at work means finding a way to channel them in a way that is appropriate for the task at hand. However, self-regulating emotions at work is not ever as simple as it sounds.

We all have bad days, boring days, and "off" days. Creating a rhythm to your emotional life can help reduce the frequency of negative emotions that impact your sales calls.

One way you can find your rhythm includes creating a daily routine. Forbes highlights seven possible elements of a morning routine used by highly successful people. These elements include setting the same alarm time each morning, meditating or working out, having family breakfast, reading or learning, greeting strangers and creating (write it down) a literal to-do list.

Consider creating your own morning routine that starts the day off in a positive way. Then, consider splitting up the workday with breaks or rewards for when sales goals are met.

3. Discover what drives you.

Sales expert Barry Farber emphasizes motivation's intrinsic relation to energy and enthusiasm. According to Farber, a salesperson's energy level is directly related to their mental and physical energy — but where does that energy come from, exactly?

Little spurts of caffeine or excitement won't sustain you in the long run. Becoming aware of your own personal motivations for your work can help you fuel that enthusiasm.

To find lasting motivation, take a moment to look at the "big picture" of your work life. Why do you do what you do? Do you love work because you love your coworkers? Do you find meaning in the mission of the company you work for? Do you enjoy setting and achieving difficult goals?

Discovering why you do what you do can help you find lasting motivation for long-term goals.

4. Find your people, keep your people.

Social regulation and social awareness are the final keys to EI.

Social regulation can aid you in finding your client base by noticing prospects' emotions and responding appropriately in each interaction with them. Social awareness can help you maintain your client base by maintaining an awareness of how the connections you make become relationships with longevity.

Reflect on your capacity for social regulation in your recent calls. If the prospect was in a hurry, did you notice? Did you offer them the "Reader's Digest" version of your pitch?

If they rejected a pitch, did you overcome your own feelings of rejection to try to understand what they were feeling? Social regulation is key to making connections with prospects by emotionally putting yourself in their shoes — as much as possible, at least.

After you've built a client base using social regulation, social awareness is key. Social awareness is an understanding of the relationships you have and how to sustain them in the future.

Consider building rapport with clients by taking a sustained interest in their work or life. Ask them open-ended questions that can lead to future calls and conversations. Spend less time talking about you and more time talking about them and how you can help them in the future.

Related: 10 Research-Backed Ways to Improve Sales Success

A more emotionally intelligent you.

Reflecting upon your own EI can lead to an awareness of where and how emotional dynamics impact prospect relationships. Practicing EI can lead you to more than short-term productivity, extending your efforts into long-lasting client relationships.

Lucas Miller

Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

Founder of Echelon Copy LLC

Lucas Miller is the founder and CEO of Echelon Copy LLC, a media relations agency based in Provo, Utah that helps brands improve visibility, enhance reputation and generate leads through authentic storytelling.

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