Colleen Stanley- The Key for Success in Sales? Emotional Intelligence

November 14, 2014 – the Institute for Excellence in Sales & Business Development (IES&BD) held an “Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success” event at the USA Today Convention Center in McLean, VA featuring Colleen Stanley. As the founder of SalesLeadership, spoke today about what sales professionals should keep in mind regarding emotional intelligence within the industry, how to use it to succeed, and what role it plays in the business. Furthermore, Stanley’s insight into emotional intelligence lends itself allows consumers in turn to recognize such behavior during market transactions. For example, employing similar psychology and recognizing certain behaviors when taking part in an asymmetrical information transaction, such as buying a car, would reduce potential uncertainty.

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is defined as “the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.” But what does this really mean? Stanley emphasized that the art of salesmanship incorporates both soft and hard skills and produces emotion from both the sender’s and the receiver’s sides. Therefore, it is important for all successful professionals, from athletes to lawyers, to possess both high IQ and EQ.

It is important to manage emotions appropriately during tough sales or client interactions. Stanley described three possible reactions that can arise in this process: fight, flight or emotionally intelligent response. Most people tend to go with the “fight” response during which they may become aggressive by raising their voice, become defensive or even withdraw altogether. An emotionally intelligent response, however, would be one that the sender is conscious of and can rationalize. Stanley showed an example of a clip from the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes” where the main character made a decision to damage a stranger’s car because they took her spot by combining both the fight AND emotionally intelligent responses.

Effective selling involves constant repetition. The more people practice their pitch, company values, etc., the better that information is mentally stored. Most people can remember the ABCs even 30 years later due to the countless times they had to re-sing the song in kindergarten. Repetition is key.

Stanley also described the “J Curve” which shows the process of mastering new skills – a crucial part of sales. Following the shape of the letter “J,” people tend to get worse at doing something before getting better at it. People learn from their mistakes, so it is important not to let an error be discouraging.

Other important skills sales professionals should exercise are assertiveness, impulse control, empathy and self-awareness. The “Marshmallow” experiment conducted in the 60s and 70s revealed that children who displayed delayed gratification generally excelled in life more than children who exhibited the need for immediate gratification. The study famously demonstrates the importance of impulse control. As for empathy, sales professionals must constantly keep in mind the importance of value proposition. Lastly, self-awareness is the foundation of improving other competencies. People tend to repeat the same mistakes when they do not allow themselves to relax. The ability to relax can provide clarity and an opportunity to re-examine personal or professional goals.

The event concluded with a Q&A session and remarks from Fred Diamond, founder of IES&BD. More information about EQ and it application in sales can be found in Colleen Stanley’s book titled Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success: Connect with Customers and Get Results.

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Olivia is a graduate of Villanova University where she studied Economics and History, minoring in Gender and Women's Studies. She also has experience working with federal legislatures on health care policy, women's issues, and Internet safety.


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