I’ve been assessing salespeople, in both leadership and quota-carrying positions, since 2001 and the longer I do it, the more value I place on emotional intelligence (EQ).  The sheer abilities that flow from a high EQ are in greatest demand today.  The Millennial generation thrives on EQ leadership which will drive its importance even higher.

What are the keys to EQ?  This post from TTI provides great insight into the entire topic.  A couple traits to consider:

1. Possess self-awareness

Before someone can be effective interacting with others, they need to have a conscious knowledge of their own character, feelings, motives, and desires. The “feelings” part of this equation is very important. When those feelings are not positive, having the ability to control emotions is paramount to managing interactions successfully. When a person is self-aware and able to employ self-regulation under stress, they tend to have more successful outcomes (and less regret).

Personally, I believe all EQ flows out of self-awareness; without it, the person is unable to access the other traits.  Also, my experience has been that they cannot course correct their own behavior which leads to difficulties with others.

7. Act calm under pressure

Everyone deals with some form of stress in their daily lives. No one is immune to stress. Yet, some people seem to be cool and calm in virtually all situations while others seem to be frazzled at the slightest distraction. Those who keep their cool have developed the skill of learning to manage stress when the pressure rises.

Doing so is not always easy and sometimes a person may have to bite their tongue hard to stop from saying something they’d later regret. But those that do, tend to get through stressful situations much easier than those who haven’t developed this skill. The more times a person can successfully navigate through a pressure-filled situation, the easier it becomes to do so the next time they find themselves in the same situation.

This is no small ability.  Calmness is infectious even in highly stressful situations.  The ability to stay calm in those situations is one of the hallmarks of great leadership.

As they say, read the entire thing.

This list will make you cringe, especially if any of these phrases are in your common parlance.

1. “You look tired.”

2. “Wow, you’ve lost a ton of weight.”

3. “You were too good for her anyway.”

4. “You always…” or “You never…”

5. “You look great for your age.”

6. “As I said before…”

7. “Good luck.”

8. “It’s up to you.” or “Whatever you want.”

9. “Well at least I’ve never _______.”

Ha! How good is that list?  As a father of teenagers, I am constantly correcting them for using #4.  I was a little surprised by #7 so I’ll close with the author’s explanation (which is a good one):

This is a subtle one. It certainly isn’t the end of the world if you wish someone good luck, but you can do better because this phrase implies that they need luck to succeed.

Instead say: “I know you have what it takes.” This is better than wishing her luck because suggesting that she has the skills needed to succeed provides a huge boost of confidence. You’ll stand out from everyone else who simply wishes her luck.

In sales we know that prospects and customers make decisions emotionally and then justify them afterwards intellectually.  This is why strong salespeople have the ability to build rapport and then engage the prospect’s emotions during the qualifying stage.

This truth appears to have been validated in a new book titled Sway:  The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior as noted in this Inc.com blog.  The pull quote:

Newsflash: People, even when given a choice of thinking logically and getting beneficial results, will often act emotionally despite the consequences. The effects of this irrational behavior on businesses can be far reaching.

There is an intriguing case study referenced in the post that is worth the read.  The outcome of that section is valuable advice:

The authors point out one final take-away that struck close to home with me. “The researchers concluded that business owners place too great importance on margins and outcomes. They recommended that all managers — regardless of industry — put greater “effort, energy, investment, and patience” into nurturing the relationship. In the end, “the fairness of the procedure has as much to do with our satisfaction as the ultimate outcome.”