The customer experience shift occurring right before our eyes is causing a sea change in sales.  The transactional sale is being consumed by a myriad of company websites offering products and solutions.  I think this description from the TTI blog deftly describes the trend in sales hiring:

Only a few decades ago, a customer was mainly dependent on what was on supply. These days, a customer has so many options that the customer journey has become a key concept in the boardroom. Whoever delivers the most flexible, attractive, trustworthy and innovative product and/or support wins over the customer.

The change is a supply issue – prospects have multiple solutions at their fingertips.  This change puts added importance on hiring salespeople with strong “soft skills.”   These skills have always been in demand for sales, but they have become critical in the past 10 years.  The day of the hard-charging, damn the torpedoes hunter are dwindling.  The shift is moving towards salespeople who can navigate a longer sales cycle, relationship sale.

This shift is also occurring among sales leaders as they need to possess these skills to lead their new teams.  Not a day goes by that we don’t discuss emotional intelligence among sales leaders with our customers.  These discussions are always wrapped around the results of our assessments.  There are certain aptitudes we assess that give us clear insight into a sales leader’s emotional intelligence.

We start here:

Empathetic Outlook
This is the ability to perceive and understand the feelings and attitudes of others – to place oneself “in-the-shoes” of another and to be able to view a situation from their perspective. It involves being conscious of how one’s actions will impact others.

All emotional intelligence begins with empathy.  The ability to understand the feelings and attitudes of others provides the feedback for the sales leader to make proper adjustments when interacting with that person.  A low-empathy sales leader will make decisions without understanding the impact those decisions have on others.

We end here:

Internal Self Control
This is the ability to maintain a steady and controlled level of internal emotion in a stressful or emotionally charged situation. Although it directly affects self-composure in a difficult situation, this capacity is more an examination of a person’s tendency to allow the external environment’s level of stress to affect their internal levels.

Emotional intelligence includes being able to understand your own emotions and not let them overwhelm you.  Strong, modern sales leaders possess a strong self-awareness to maintain control of their own emotions.  This control provides clear-headed decision-making even in the most stressful situations.

In between these two ends are many aptitudes that we measure in all leaders.  Monitoring others, leading others, persuading others are just a few of the measurements that reveal a sales leader’s emotional intelligence.  If you are not measuring these traits in your hiring process, you are relying on your gut to guess.

Don’t Guess. Know.

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