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Tennessean Column- Sunday, August 23

Posted on: August 27

Author: Tom Black
Tennessean Column- Sunday, August 23

In Sales, EQ is just as important as IQ

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say.”

So a sales person calls on me and she is 20 minutes late.  She says, “I got lost,” or she tells me “The traffic was horrible.”  My thought is, “I’ve been late, but for important meetings I leave early and know where I am going.”  Or a salesperson calls on me and doesn’t follow up for several days. When she does, she says, “I had trouble getting all the information together” or “The office misplaced my request but I’ve got it now.”

Let’s face it, salespeople cannot be perfect, but what we do far outweighs what we say to our prospects. Our prospects are judging us. Rarely, when we call or meet with a prospect, is the prospect saying, “I am so glad you called or came by.”  There is a healthy degree of skepticism that every prospect has about every salesperson when they first meet or talk to them.

Remember this: Everything you say and do will be used against you. This is the harsh standard that every salesperson must live by. Every prospect is asking themselves, “Is this a person I’d like to do business with?” and “Is this a company that will deliver what the salesperson has promised?”

Then, the question becomes, what can salespeople say and, more importantly, do to help the prospect answer these questions positively?

A large part of this is your emotional intelligence, or EQ. There is no connection between your IQ and your EQ.  We all know very smart people who are emotionally incompetent. Yet psychologists have proven over and over again that a salesperson’s EQ is just as important as his IQ.

For the record, intelligence is your ability to learn. It’s roughly the same at 14 as it is at 60. Emotional intelligence is a skill set that can be improved and acquired, especially with practice.  Some people’s environment has given them greater emotional intelligence than others but salespeople can constantly improve their emotional intelligence. Studies have shown that our EQ is just as important as our IQ in making up our personality.

EQ is made up of several things, but the two most important are self-awareness and social awareness. Your emotional intelligence is a strong predictor of your success. In a test against 33 other important skills, 58 percent of all respondents’ success or failure was predicted by their EQ.

EQ determines over half your success and it’s a skill set you can improve. Good news, right?

Another study found 90 percent of top performers also had high emotional intelligence (EQ).  Only 20 percent of bottom performers had high EQs. Think about that. Your odds of being a top performer without a high EQ are not very good.

Here are a few skills we can practice to improve our EQs and increase our success:


  • First, manage your emotions. One of the things we all can control is our reaction to our emotions. No matter how we really feel, salespeople need to portray a positive, enthusiastic outer view to our prospects.  Part of this is self-awareness. That’s the ability to recognize how we are feeling but not let how we’re feeling effect our behavior or the subtle signals we send our prospects. Check in with your yourself several times a day. Ask yourself, “How am I feeling?” and “Is how I am feeling affecting my behavior?”  The more you check in, the more self-aware you will become.
  • Second, improve your social awareness. That is being aware of how the prospect is feeling. Picking up on their emotions, reading their body language and noticing what’s going on in their environment. Then, based on your social awareness, you can learn how to manage the relationship with your prospect. The higher your social awareness, the better you’ll manage your prospect interaction. During every call, ask yourself, “How is my prospect feeling?” and “How would I want to be treated in this situation?”

As you practice these skills, your brain will build pathways that make these new skills habits. Better yet, as you practice these skills, your brain will eliminate the old bad habits that held you back. By putting this all together, you will sell more, and that’s what we all want.


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