My career started in sales.
This was not my goal at the time.
Sure, I had sold homemade cookies and popcorn balls on the street corner of my neighborhood when I was eight years old, but considering myself a salesperson……nah.
Even when I sold Avon door to door in my senior year of high school, it was still not a label I wanted for myself. A few years later, after my foray into fashion design school and my clear restlessness working in a position inside of a building ‘all day long,’ I was told I was going into sales.
It didn’t compute.
All I could picture was being a used-car salesman and having people think I was trying to sell them something they did not need. Ugh.
This was back in the day, when I’d either call to get through to my target or just show up in their offices. Imagine how much fun that was (not) at 22!
I wanted to survive sales, so I did the only thing I could….I stopped selling to people.
I decided I wanted to make new friends, and get to know my prospects, what did they need? Could I fulfill it? And if I couldn’t, what could I do to help them achieve their solution? My job wasn’t about “me,” it was about them and understanding their feelings, wants and desires.
I was on their team.
I developed relationships, some of which, I’m still connected to decades later and because of the emotional connection as my goal, I was successful in sales. I had a variety of clients from 20th Century Fox to major advertising agencies with clients such as Jack in The Box and CBS.
Emotional Intelligence as defined in 1990 by John A. Mayer of the University of New Hampshire and Peter Salovey from Yale University is the collection of abilities used to identify, understand, control and assess the emotions of the self and others.
Disregarding the emotions of others, as frivolous or something to be ignored in pursuit of the sale makes the road that much harder, if not, impossible.
I worked with car dealers at one point in my career; I’m talking no phone calls, or emails, just showing up at a dealership to sell to the general manager or owner.
I lead two teams of salespeople to do something, which hadn’t been previously achieved in the company. And some of these salespeople, were not born with the gift of gab, and others overstated their abilities (the second group would just slowly disappear from the job), but if willing they were successful too.
In mentoring my teams, I made it about building the relationship.
I asked them NOT to walk onto a lot and try to arm wrestle a deal from these car lots. Their instructions were to introduce themselves, get to know them and what made their prospect tick. Create a real relationship. And guaranteed sooner rather than later, the prospect would give them the business.
When people feel understood and connected, they buy. When people like you, they’ll buy from you versus the guy they don’t like (unless you truly have an inferior product or service). Emotional Intelligence (EQ) matters when creating a relationship in business. It can make or break a career.
Years ago, when I owned my marketing/design business, I sent a pie (I want a piece of your pie was the accompaniment) to a CEO of a major animation company, and had also designed some funky direct marketing to attract clients, great door openers, but what kept them with me was my desire to be on their team and understand what they needed….and fulfill it, even if it meant I didn’t get the sale.
Letting go of the outcome of one sale, meant I opened the door to countless sales down the road.
The other key was the management of expectations.
I worked with unbelievably crazy deadlines at times, and it could get quite emotional for my client (and me too), but I wouldn’t lie to them. Even if they were upset with me, I was honest and aware of their emotional state. I would respond in a manner respecting this knowledge rather than covering my own ass.
Now EQ is not about manipulation or controlling other people. It’s to meet them where they are at, and have honest discourse without the pretense of wanting anything more.
Relationships are the building blocks to our lives, professionally and personally. The more EQ possessed the more freedom we have to create a strong foundation with just about anyone, if we are willing to understand, identify and manage the emotions of others.
If you are interested in learning more, please email firstname.lastname@example.org