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How to use emotion in sales.

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A Harvard Business Review study found that salespeople with high emotional intelligence (EQ) have a 15% higher close rate than those with low EQ.

This matters, because in this economic climate, low win rates are a common problem for many sales teams.

You or your team conduct discovery meetings with hard-earned leads, only to have those discovery meetings result in no decision or a loss to the competition. It’s frustrating and mystifying – especially when those leads are inbound.

The most common response to low win rates

Most sales organizations focus on getting more leads (i.e. adding to the top of the funnel) in order to offset the low win rate. More leads means more discovery meetings which should result in more new customers closed/won – right?

Unfortunately this does nothing to address the actual win rate. It only results in higher numbers with the same closing ratio or possibly even worse, which means a higher Customer Acquisition Cost.

Why the top of funnel approach doesn’t work

The reason why the top-of-funnel approach does nothing to change win rates is because it isn’t addressing the cornerstone of the sales process: the quality of the discovery meeting itself.

The quality of the discovery meeting hinges on two key factors:

1. Emotional Intelligence (explained further below).

2. The presence of an effective discovery framework (more on this in future newsletters).

How to help teams develop their emotional intelligence

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is defined as having four key domains as outlined by Daniel Goleman:

List of emotional intelligence famework from the article

A salesperson with a high EQ is aware of their own emotions, and manages those emotions so they do not interfere in the discovery meeting. They’re also tuned into what the buyer is feeling, and are able to navigate the conversation accordingly. This enables the seller to display empathy, and it enables the buyer to feel understood.

EQ comes with a caveat

The power of EQ cannot be ignored in sales.

However, there’s a big caveat when it comes to EQ. A salesperson who has a high EQ but lacks an effective sales framework may rely on likeability to advance the relationship. This means they may chat about things they have in common with the buyer. The buyer might even enjoy the conversation – but this comes at the expense of the seller’s credibility which can only be established through impactful discovery.

Also, a seller’s high EQ might actually hinder their ability to ask tougher questions because they’re so attuned to how the buyer *might* feel that they fear upsetting the buyer.

For these reasons, high EQ alone is not enough. It must be combined with a discovery framework that places the buyer (and their problems) at the center of the conversation.

How to Develop EQ:

- Awareness is the first step in developing EQ. Pay attention to your own emotions, and practice detaching from the outcome of the sale.

- Practice active listening by being fully present for your buyer in discovery. Get curious about the words behind the words. For example, your buyer says something like, “We were hoping to get better results in Q1 than we actually did.” Rather than replying with how your product can help them in the future, ask a responsive question to understand what their Q1 results actually were, and what drove the targets they had set.



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