Emotional intelligence is a hot topic in leadership circles. Studies have shown that leaders with a high “EQ” succeed more than those who rely on academically-focused IQ (knowledge). But this concept isn’t reserved solely for leaders. Here’s why sales professionals also need emotional intelligence.
First of all, the concept reflects a person’s ability to manage a range of emotion-centered behaviors, including self-awareness, empathy, self-regulation, and social skills. When you’re in a profession that relies on the strength of building relationships, a high degree of emotional intelligence is a must.
Here are the five components of emotional intelligence and why they matter to new home sales professionals.
Self-awareness. Are you tuned into your feelings—what they are, and how they affect you and the people around you? Being strongly self-aware is the first hurdle to your higher EQ. For example, when you’re in a bad mood, do you know it? Do you understand what contributes to your moods? When you’re aware of the triggers of both positive and negative emotions, you’re better equipped to manage your behavior. A person who is highly self-aware shows confidence (not to be confused with arrogance), a sense of humor, and appears to be mindful of how they are perceived by other people.
In a sales situation, if your day started poorly, you understand that it has nothing to do with the customer you’re dealing with. Maybe this buyer is asking questions that, on a good day, you would gladly handle. In your current combative or angry mood, you would need to be aware that the buyer is not responsible for your current state and shouldn’t be subjected to anything less than your best sales persona!
Empathy. This behavior is demonstrated in the ability to understand other people’s feelings. It’s not the same as sympathy, which is feeling sorry for someone. An empathic person can sense another individual’s hurt, sorrow, sadness, frustration, anger, and other emotions, even when that someone isn’t owning up to them (e.g., “I’m fine, everything’s fine.”). Beyond just sensing these feelings, your empathy shows in how you respond.
In a sales situation, let’s say you have a buyer who is concerned about affording a home that they clearly want. You know they have been pre-approved for enough to buy this home. An empathic sales professional notices that something is bothering the buyer, but they’re not sharing it. You say, “I feel like something isn’t quite clicking for you. I know this is a big decision and really it’s my goal to help you choose the home that will fit you and make you happy. Is there anything I can do to help you?” This response shows you’re aware of the buyer’s feelings, and the empathy could be exactly what puts them at ease and gets them over whatever hurdle is blocking their decision.
Self-regulation. This one pairs with self-awareness. Once you acknowledge your emotions, self-regulation is your ability to manage and express them appropriately. That doesn’t mean burying emotions so no one can see them, but rather putting them in perspective and keeping your feelings from turning a manageable situation into a mess. Someone who is strong in this behavior adapts easily to change and is good at conflict resolution. They are the ones who step up and welcome challenges as an opportunity to grow.
In a sales situation, a high degree of self-regulation shows when something triggers an emotion, like frustration, but you are able to keep the feeling from derailing the conversation. For example, the homebuyer comments that another builder offers the same features at a lower price. It’s a frustrating point because you know the other builder uses lesser quality materials to cut costs. You could certainly point this out by being blunt, but your self-regulation tells you to take a more appropriate approach. “We maintain high standards so that our buyers get lasting quality. Maybe I could look at the list of features from the other builder and compare them, apples to apples, against what we provide.”
Motivation. People who possess high EQ are intrinsically motivated and highly accountable. They appreciate rewards, like bonuses and recognition, but the most powerful motivator is their own desire to achieve goals. They are self-starters who don’t require a lot of direction because their commitment to achieving at a higher level sparks their action. They acknowledge what they perceive as their failures and, more importantly, make it a habit to learn from them.
In a sales situation, a highly motivated new home sales professional isn’t looking at making another sale as a “score”. Their stimulation is to help the buyer find the right solution, even if that means going above and beyond to serve the needs of that buyer. “I know you’re happy with this home, but I think you should visit this other community before deciding, just to be sure. You might love the other home even more, or it could just confirm that this home is the right one. What do you say?”
Social skills. This is a big one for new home sales professionals! If you lack in this area, either work hard to improve or find another career where building relationships isn’t part of the job. Social skills are the ability to interact well with others. You’re comfortable in both one-on-one and group dynamics, an expert at making people at ease in your presence. You easily start and engage in conversations. You’re outgoing, a good listener, and present positive body language.
In a sales situation, you demonstrate social skills from the very contact with your prospect. You’re good at asking the right questions and listening to answers (without interrupting) so that you gain a solid understanding of the buyer’s needs, wishes, and motivators. You make good eye contact and can read the buyer’s body language, too. A person with good social skills is also adept at being a storyteller, a trait that every new home sales professional should master!
How high is your emotional intelligence? Try choosing one component of the five listed here and work on building your skill. If you need help, let’s talk about sales training that focuses on building your EQ!