As the sales world has evolved, we’ve started to better understand which traits and characteristics can help sales reps become better at what they do. One of the best indicators of success in business and in life is emotional intelligence, or the ability to identify and monitor emotions, both someone’s own, and those of others.
While most people have some level of emotional intelligence (or EQ for short), others must make it a point to develop their EQ, striving to master their own feelings and behaviors while learning how to effectively communicate and influence others, skills that are critical for any salesperson aspiring to greatness.
Although EQ is a blanket term, it’s made up of individual traits which can make all the difference. And while all of the traits which make up EQ can be beneficial to sales reps, there are some which are more important than others, as the daily interactions required by sales have their own unique demands.
Here are the six traits of salespeople with high emotional intelligence:
1. They’re empathetic
If you want to understand what it takes to close a prospect’s deal, then you need to have empathy for their situation. Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is one of the most important but underrated skills a salesperson can have. Too frequently, we strive to make people understand our point of view without taking the time to understand theirs. This is why empathy is a critical component of emotional intelligence, and one of the most important traits a salesperson can possess.
2. They have emotional self-control
No matter how good you are at sales, you’ll have to face near constant rejection, both from prospects who you’re trying to reel in, and people you’ve already pitched. It’s difficult not to be affected by this, and even the most hard-nosed sales reps will have moments when they feel down and start to question what it is they’re doing. Emotionally intelligent people, however, have excellent emotional self-control, and can identify their negative feelings and work through them without letting them affect their performance. It’s not that they don’t experience the same lows as others, it’s that they don’t let their feelings overwhelm them, or take control.
3. They understand their own strengths and weaknesses
Self-awareness is a key component of emotional intelligence, and a self-aware sales rep has numerous advantages over an oblivious one. To start with, everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses, but not everybody is willing to adjust accordingly, playing to their strengths and trying to improve in areas where they might fall short. Sales reps with high emotional intelligence, however, don’t lie to themselves about what they are and what they are not, which allows them to be more in sync with reality. And in sales, where the numbers don’t lie, self-awareness is key.
4. They’re adaptable
If you’re unwilling to bend, then you might be successful with one type of prospect or in one type of sale, but you probably won’t get much further than that. Adaptability is one of the most important traits a salesperson can have, whether it’s adapting to different buying styles, different sales cycles, or adapting to adversity, since you really never know what sales will throw your way. Learning how to move forward even when you’re out of your comfort zone is a skill that can transcend your profession, and help you in your personal life as well, so it pays to make an effort to increase your adaptability as part of your overall EQ.
5. They understand their time is valuable
Contrary to popular belief, people with high emotional intelligence aren’t meek pushovers who let others walk all over them in order to stay on their good side. In fact, understanding one’s value and how it plays into a business relationship is one aspect of EQ, and salespeople with high emotional intelligence value their own time enough not to allow others to waste it unnecessarily. In the real world, this usually takes the form of setting the right expectations, and ensuring that prospects respect the fact that salespeople are professionals too. Salespeople with high EQs know that if you don’t value your own time, you can’t expect a prospect to value it either.
6. They’re inherently optimistic
It’s difficult to have high emotional intelligence if you’re cynical, and it’s just as difficult to be a salesperson if you’re not an optimist as well. Sales can be daunting, and a belief that you can do better, and that you can achieve against seemingly insurmountable odds are a requirement for any sales reps with grand ambitions to their name. Optimism isn’t easy to learn, but it is possible, and as you develop your EQ and subsequent confidence in yourself and your abilities, your optimism is likely to increase as well, until it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle. So if you’re not an optimist by nature, don’t lose hope. There are ways you can boost your belief in your own abilities, and in the good nature of others, as long as you’re willing to give it a try.