Emotional Intelligence Undermines Sales Training

Posted by Chris Mott on Mon, Jan 28, 2013 @ 13:01 PM

emotional intelligence

My oldest daughter is close to attending graduate school.  She has spent the last 3+ years working with young girls struggling with difficult home lives, behavioral problems, substance abuse and a variety of emotional challenges.  She will graduate with a degree in Contemplative Psychotherapy and follow her path in life.

The school which she plans to attend has a very unique approach to training therapists.  Naropa incorporates traditional Western practices with Eastern spiritual, meditative and mind-body work.  If you've ever tried to meditate or committed to a meditation practice, you know how hard it is to slow down, let alone stop your mind from working. 

A primary tenant of Norapa’s teaching is to:

  • Become aware of how your mind and body are activated by external and internal triggers,
  • Understand the emotions and thoughts behind them, and
  • Learn how to experience this without bringing it into the therapists' work with clients.
When I heard about this, I was awed by its simplicity and practical application - not just for training therapists, but also for people in general.

Let's look at how salespeople are affected by triggers.  Here is the scenario: After several positive discussions on a large opportunity, a salesperson calls the prospect and is told that they've decided to put the project on the back burner.

Experience / Trigger Possible Outcome
Interest Declines Is this a pattern? 
Communication Slows How do I make sure I say the right thing?
Pipeline Shrinks It's a good thing that I have other opportunities.
Manager is Disappointed What did I miss or do wrong?
Spousal Worries Maybe I shouldn't talk about this.
Pressure Increases I can't make any more mistakes.

The affects for the salesperson could include:
  • Over-thinking, resulting in the call strategy not being executed,
  • Tentativeness and indecision,
  • Over-reliance on existing opportunities,
  • Less willingness to share with the sales manager,
  • Concern over risk-taking,
  • Less directness in conversations, and
  • Fatigue and mental tiredness.

You may be thinking that if you've had salespeople like that, you would know it, or you only hire seasoned people who don’t have these problems.  You may be right, but the research at Objective Management Group (OMG) shows something very different:

  • 90% Have Unsustainable Pipelines,
  • 83% Lack Written Personal Goals,
  • 60% Make Excuses,
  • 55% Lack Urgency, and
  • 45% Are Not Self-Starters.

Sales training usually emphasizes skills, tactics, process and motivation.  These are important and necessary; however, the primary sales development goal should be to change behavior and in order to accomplish this, you need to influence the way that salespeople think.  There are several challenges to accomplishing this:

  • A solid percentage of salespeople don’t want to change their thinking or approach,
  • Those who will change are usually unaware of the underlying cause of the sales problem, and
  • There isn’t a methodology in place to drive this change.

For a sales expert who knows what he/she is doing, this isn't as difficult as it sounds and doesn't take as long as you would think.  It's also the only way to achieve meaningful change.

Do you need a higher-performing sales force?  Learn what the root cause of the problem is.

Topics: choosing a sales training company, comparison of top salespeople, changing sales performance

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