Ask any sales leader in any company across the globe, and they will tell you that salespeople are INCREDIBLY complex creatures – and there are so many things that go into making an individual unique and successful in a sales role. Are they smart? Well educated? Eloquent and well spoken? Intuitive and interesting? Culturally aware and likable?
Fundamentally, I know that I’m not just in the Adtech or online media industry – I’m in the people business. My job(s) are myriad, and I can’t remember the last time I received a written job description – but the pillar and small piece of continuity I regularly fall back on is this: I am in the ‘people’ business. My success is defined by the relationships I am able to forge and manage – both with my customers, and cross-functionally with my colleagues and partners.
As I’ve begun to coach my team this year, and worked with them continually on establishing goals and focuses for upcoming quarters/months, our #1 priority has been soft sales skills, or the ability to leverage emotional intelligence and perception. In my group, we hire winners – but more than previous sales or tech experience, the single most impressive thing I see when meeting with desirable sales candidates is a strong emotional perception. A dancing monkey in heels can pick up a telephone and call a sales prospect; a solid salesperson understands the benefits of understanding that prospect’s wants/needs/business, and using that understanding to sell them a solution. This understanding is core to our company’s go-to-market strategy, but fundamentally, it’s crucial for any professional to know their EQ, and how that affects their success.
One of my favorite colleagues, (called TMFT for short), shared the following article with me, knowing I would jump all over it: this glimpse into the pivotal importance of emotional intelligence is exactly what I’ve been preaching for years. I chair our peer hiring committee in corporate sales, and one of my biggest goals over the last 3 quarters has been a renewed focus on evaluating a sales candidate’s EQ, versus their track record. As my business mentor has said, “You can teach a smart person to sell a new product – you can’t teach someone to be multifaceted or emotionally intelligent.”
The article helps articulate the differences between IQ (your measurable learning ability/intelligence), Personality (tendencies, introversion vs. extroversion), and EQ (emotional perception, social skills, and relationship management). It also stresses the ‘Plasticity’ of the human brain, or how you can work to further develop your EQ – while IQ and personality are cemented in an individual, EQ can be malleable with applied effort. Take a look here, and self-evaluate to figure out where you measure up: Why You Need Emotional Intelligence to Succeed in Business (Entrepreneur).