Traditional sales skills and product knowledge can only get you so far. Sales is a people business. To drive extraordinary success, you need not only consider the mind, you need to consider the heart.
While the mind is the center of logic, the heart is the center of emotion. Here’s the good and bad news: emotions always win. If you invest in the mind without paying attention to the heart, you risk failure. However, if you invest in the heart, the emotional side of sales, you open the potential for new levels of success.
What are the skills of the heart? Here are a few to consider:
First published in 1995, Daniel Goleman’s research, published in the book Emotional Intelligence, revealed that a person’s success was less related to their IQ (mental intelligence) and more related to their EQ (emotional intelligence). Furthermore, he determined that raising someone’s IQ was nearly impossible while increasing their EQ was very doable.
Emotional Intelligence comprises the skills of knowing and managing yourself along with reading and influencing others. Can you think of anything that could be more relevant to success in sales? Yet, most sales development programs focus on the IQ, pumping reps full of product knowledge and basic sales skills. While knowledge is important, we miss the heart of the matter: the ability to know ourselves and influence others.
Imagine what could happen if sales teams focused on developing EQ. What if they built the heart muscles that provide resilience, created empathy, and stoked the fires passion? What if your sales team nurtured the ability to read others, sense what is happening, and respond effectively. What if your team were more resilient to the rejection and setbacks that sideswipe reps all day long?
Over the past three years of developing training programs to help sales teams integrate social networking into their sales process, one core issue kept rising to the surface. Most sales reps do not understand the value that they bring to the table. Sure, they might be able to spout off a few bullets from the company’s PowerPoint pitch deck. But the reality was that most reps looked like the proverbial deer-in-the-headlights when asked to explain the value they bring to a prospect.
At the same time reps struggle with value, they struggle to win deals and maintain margins. I suspect these two problems are closely related.
Each sales rep has what I call a Personal Value Proposition (PVP). It’s their unique and powerful value proposition. It is the company’s value proposition combined with the value the rep brings to the table. All of this is then filtered through what prospective clients value.
Every company has a value proposition. According Lee Salz, the author of Sales Differentiation, sales reps need to not only know the differentiators, they also need to be able to articulate how these actually benefit a client. For example, a sales rep might say that they are locally owned. That’s great, but how does it benefit a prospect or client? Reps need to understand the differentiator and the benefits it brings.
Company value is good. Where things get great is when you can combine the value proposition of the rep. Each of your sales reps brings unique value to the table based on their experiences and education.
For example, at a local office technology dealer I worked with, we had a sales rep who used to be a nurse. She had tremendous value because she understood the nuances of the medical industry. When she combined the competitive advantage of a locally owned company that could provide flexible programs and responsive service with her deep knowledge of healthcare, she dominated in an environment typically relegated to low price bids.
In another case, I hired a sales rep who grew up in a family that owned gas stations and convenience stores. He understood the challenges a small business owner faces. By combining his value with the value of the company, he set himself apart from other sales reps that simply spouted off their company’s value proposition.
In my sales career, I’ve leveraged my education. Completing my MBA allowed me to bring an understanding of business strategy to sales conversations. When clients work with me, not only do they get value from the company I represent, they get the value of my experience.
Company Value plus the Personal Value of each of your reps creates powerful differentiation. Where it gets hyper-effective is when you distill it down to what your clients and prospects value.
The more sales professionals can understand what their clients value, the more they can tailor their Personal Value Proposition to the marketplace. In the Selling From the Heart Podcast, we often challenge reps to take their clients to lunch and ask them what they like about doing business with them. The answers to these questions provide the keys to distilling your company and personal value proposition into a potent brew.
What if each of your sales reps understood their Personal Value Proposition? Imagine how this could change their effectiveness.
In addition to Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Value Intelligence (VQ–I just made that up!), sales professionals need to be able to drive conversations. Let’s call that CQ!
Relationships begin from conversations. However, my observation in working with sales reps across the US, Canada, and Europe this past year is that reps struggle to drive conversation. I believe this is a skill of both the heart and the mind.
Good conversations require skill in driving conversation. The challenge is that today’s conversations happen in so many different formats. It used to be that conversations happened verbally, either face-to-face or over the phone. Not any more. Today’s conversations usually begin digitally before they ever get to face-to-face.
Consider the dating world. It used to be that you would go to a social setting like a bar, a church, or a library (tip of the hat to my favorite movie, Coming to America) and strike up a conversation with someone. These days, most relationships begin online on social media or dating sites. Then, the couple finds a way to meet in person. Statista reported that 80% of people that use online dating sites managed to get an in-person meeting.
If we do this in dating, why do sales reps struggle to convert connections to appointments on LinkedIn, the business dating site? Perhaps they need some coaching in Conversational Intelligence? What if your sales team mastered the skill of driving digital conversations and flipping them to in-person dates/appointments?
Developing The Heart of Sales Success
If you want to succeed in sales, you need to get to the heart of the matter. This is a people business where relationships reign. Product knowledge, time management, and basic sales skills are necessary. But what if you invested in the heart of your sales team? What if they raised their EQ, VQ, and CQ? That could drive some results. And that makes my heart happy!