Sales EQ
Jeb Blount

Sales EQ - Book Summary

How Ultra High Performers Leverage Sales-Specific Emotional Intelligence to Close the Complex Deal

Duration: 24:45
Release Date: June 8, 2024
Book Author: Jeb Blount
Categories: Marketing & Sales, Psychology
Duration: 24:45
Release Date: June 8, 2024
Book Author: Jeb Blount
Categories: Marketing & Sales, Psychology

In this episode of 20 Minute Books, we delve into "Sales EQ" by Jeb Blount, a book that revolutionizes the concept of selling by emphasizing emotional intelligence in the sales process. Published in 2017, "Sales EQ" guides sales professionals on understanding and harnessing the power of emotions to enhance their performance. It provides strategies not only for identifying the emotions of potential buyers but also for managing their own emotional states effectively during interactions.

Jeb Blount, a renowned best-selling author and a highly respected executive advisor, is recognized for his profound insights into sales and leadership. Named one of the world's top social sales influencers by Forbes magazine, Blount brings credibility and a wealth of experience to this topic.

This book is ideal for sales professionals eager to refine their approach to selling, entrepreneurs looking to jump-start their business, and business students seeking innovative perspectives in their field. Join us in exploring how mastering emotional intelligence can transform your sales strategy and lead to greater success in business.

Understanding the emotional pulse of sales

In the fast-paced world of sales, success is measured by more than just numbers—it's also about the strength of your connections. Every seasoned sales professional knows the disappointment of a lost sale, especially when it seems like every logical argument was in their favor. If this scenario sounds familiar, then it's time to consider a paradigm shift in your sales strategy.

This guide takes you on a deep dive into why traditional logic-based selling often fails and how tapping into emotions—not just your client's but also your own—can significantly boost your sales effectiveness. Through an exploration of emotional intelligence in sales, you'll learn the importance of adapting to the emotional states of your prospects to foster trust and build meaningful relationships.

Throughout this narrative, discover why making your prospects like you might be the key you've been missing, why jumping into your sales pitch too early can hinge your success, and why speaking ill of your competitors can backfire spectacularly. By mastering these elements, you transform from a salesperson into a trusted advisor, ultimately leading you to the realm of ultra-high sales performance.

Creative thinking in sales: Going beyond expectations to clinch a deal

Imagine a young sales professional, Art, caught in a challenging situation while trying to convince an artisanal baker to sign up for his company’s truck leasing services. Despite his efforts, the baker was fixated on the price, which he believed was excessively high compared to others in the market. Unsure of his next move, Art brings in his mentor, Joe, for a different approach.

What unfolds next is a lesson in creative salesmanship and thinking outside the traditional boundaries of buyer-seller dynamics. The scene is simple: Art, the baker, and Joe, with a seemingly innocuous brown paper bag that turns out to be the game-changer.

The core insight here is that imaginative strategies can profoundly reshape buyer perceptions and dramatically shift the sales conversation. Joe introduces a visual and tactile element by presenting two different loaves of bread—one a cheap mass-produced loaf and the other a finer, artisanal product made by the baker himself. This unexpected move catches the baker off guard, breaking the typical buyer-seller script and bringing a fresh dynamic to their interaction.

Joe then cleverly uses the bread as a metaphor. He asks the baker to explain why his bread costs significantly more than the supermarket variety. As the baker passionately details the superior quality and ingredients of his bread, he experiences a feel-good dopamine rush. This biological reaction is crucial—it makes the baker more receptive and open, creating a space for reciproactivity.

Seizing this moment, Joe draws a parallel between the baker’s high-quality bread and Art’s premium truck leasing service. He outlines that, much like the artisanal bread, their service is priced higher due to its superior quality and value. By using the baker's own reasoning and language to frame their service, Joe not only disrupts standard roles but also fosters understanding and trust.

This scenario underscores a vital sale strategy: using creative thinking to break down barriers and align seller offerings directly with what is valuable and meaningful to the buyer. In doing so, Joe doesn't just help Art negotiate a deal—he also imparts a crucial lesson about innovation and empathy in sales.

Emotions drive our purchasing decisions, not just reason

Why do we choose to buy the things we buy? This question seems straightforward, but the answers might surprise you. Imagine you're at the grocery store, checking out with your usual haul. When asked why you chose those specific items, you might cite practical reasons—for instance, that a particular shampoo makes your hair feel softer. However, evidence strongly suggests that our purchase decisions are less about logic and more about emotion.

Consider an intriguing experiment where researchers played different types of music in a liquor store. On days when German beer hall music resonated through the aisles, sales of German beer noticeably increased. Conversely, when French tunes filled the air, French wine sales soared. Interestingly, when customers were asked why they chose these specific beverages, no one credited the music. Most offered logical explanations, such as a recommendation from a friend.

This example poignantly underscores that our emotions, often unconsciously, shape our buying behaviors more than rational thought.

This emotional influence extends beyond simple purchases to more significant, complex decisions. A 2006 study revealed that individuals were more inclined to invest in stocks from companies with names that were easier to pronounce—a distinctly irrational preference that highlights how even subtle emotional reactions can influence decision-making.

For sales professionals, understanding this emotional underpinning can be transformative. Typically, a salesperson approaches from a logical point, emphasizing the standout features of a product or service early on. As the sales process progresses, and the prospect of closing a deal becomes more pressing, the salesperson's emotional stakes increase, often manifesting as anxiety over losing the sale.

In stark contrast, the buyer's journey begins with emotion. Initial impressions are governed by emotional responses, such as whether they like the salesperson. It’s only closer to making a purchase decision that they shift towards a more logical evaluation, weighing practicalities and starting negotiations.

Ironically, this is the moment when a logical presentation of product features would be most effective, but it often coincides with the salesperson’s peak emotional involvement—resulting in a misalignment that can jeopardize closing the deal.

The lesson? To excel in sales, it's crucial to tune into the emotional wavelengths of clients, aligning your communications with their emotional state at each stage of the buying process. This strategy ensures that you connect effectively, addressing not just the rational but the emotionally driven elements of decision-making that truly propel a buyer to act.

Minimizing cognitive dissonance to boost your sales success

Consistency is a comfort we all crave as human beings — we seek alignment in our beliefs, thoughts, and actions. When there's a mismatch, such as when actions contradict beliefs, we experience cognitive dissonance: a state of mental discomfort. This emotional tension is not just a psychological theory; it has real implications in the world of sales.

Understanding and managing cognitive dissonance can markedly improve your effectiveness as a salesperson. Here’s why: when dissonance is high, people are likely to reject new information that conflicts with their existing beliefs, even if this new information is undeniable.

Consider the missteps that can occur in sales interactions. Many salespeople, with the best intentions, increase prospects' dissonance by challenging their current choices too directly. For instance, telling a prospect that his current vendor is underperforming might seem like a straightforward, logical selling point. However, if the prospect made the decision to choose that vendor, your "helpful" information conflicts with their self-perceived judgment and decision-making capabilities.

This often results in the prospect defending their initial choice more fiercely, not because they don’t believe your information, but because they need to maintain internal consistency. They may even view you more as an adversary rather than an ally, which is hardly an ideal position from which to make a sale.

So, how do you circumvent this? Rather than asserting the shortcomings of a prospect's existing choices, a more effective approach is to engage them in a discussion about their current satisfaction levels. Asking a question like, "What do you appreciate about your current vendor?" initiates a thought process that might naturally lead them to consider both positives and negatives. Importantly, you are not the one pointing out the negatives; you are allowing the prospect to arrive there independently.

This strategy leverages the human brain’s negativity bias, where negative experiences or aspects often weigh heavier on our minds than positive ones. By asking for positives, you subtly guide the prospect to think about their experiences comprehensively, which might make them more aware of any dissatisfactions they have been overlooking.

Ultimately, by reducing cognitive dissonance rather than exacerbating it, you create a smoother path for discussion and pave the way for a more receptive attitude towards what you have to offer. This approach not only positions you as empathetic and consultative but also aligns more closely with natural human psychology, increasing the likelihood of a successful sale.

Empathy: The secret weapon of top sales performers

In the competitive arena of sales, having a sharp intellect is undoubtedly an asset, but there's another crucial skill that distinguishes the best from the rest: empathy. This ability to genuinely understand and share the feelings of another person can transform interactions, making it a powerful tool in any salesperson's arsenal.

Take Karen, the leading salesperson at a high-end jewelry store specializing in engagement rings. Her secret? She excels not just in sales techniques but in empathizing with her customers—those starry-eyed couples dreaming about their future together.

Karen’s approach is a masterclass in empathetic sales. She recognizes the dual emotional dynamics at play: the bride-to-be, fueled by visions of a fairy-tale proposal and the perfect diamond ring, and the groom-to-be, eager to fulfill these dreams but wary of the financial strain it might impose.

This deep understanding of their emotional state is what sets Karen apart. She uses empathy to guide her interactions, starting with casual conversations that may seem unrelated to the sale but are, in fact, strategically insightful. By asking about their post-wedding plans, Karen isn’t just making small talk—she’s gauging their lifestyle and financial comfort, which informs her recommendations on ring styles and price points.

Here lies the key insight: great salespeople like Karen use empathy not just to sell but to help buyers navigate their emotions and make purchase decisions that feel right to them. This approach not only leads to customer satisfaction but also builds lasting relationships and trust, which are invaluable in sales.

But what if you're not naturally empathetic? Consider this self-assessment: when you see someone behaving badly, do you assume they're just having a rough day (A), or do you label them as a difficult person (B)? If you answered A, you likely have a natural inclination toward empathy, seeing behaviors as situational rather than inherent. If you chose B, it's a sign you might need to consciously work on developing your empathetic skills.

For those in sales, practicing empathy can be as simple as actively listening and putting oneself in the customer's shoes. This not only enhances your ability to connect with clients but also equips you to handle complex emotional dynamics effectively, ensuring you don’t just make a sale but also earn a client’s loyalty and trust.

Maintaining emotional control: A trait of top sales performers

Meet Shannon, a committed sales professional who dedicated months to nurturing a potential high-stakes business deal. At the crucial final meeting, everything seemed in place until a persistent executive began interrupting her presentation, correcting her repeatedly. Shannon's initial patience wore thin, and eventually, she snapped—publicly countering the executive, undermining his comments. While she may have defended her points effectively, this emotional reaction cost her the deal.

This real-world scenario underscores a vital lesson for all salespeople: the ability to control one's emotions is not just a professional asset, it's a necessity for those aiming to become ultra high performers in the competitive sales field.

Maintaining emotional control is pivotal because stressful situations engage our body's fight-or-flight response. This natural reaction can flood you with adrenaline, clouding your rational thinking. In essence, when overwhelmed by stress, your cognitive processes can revert to something primitive, akin to a "chimpanzee mind," where rationality takes a backseat to instinct.

Ultra high performers, however, differentiate themselves by their ability to manage this response effectively, maintaining composure, and controlling potentially damaging emotions.

So, how can you ensure you don't fall into the same trap as Shannon? Preparation is key. Before any important sales call or presentation, invest time in understanding your audience thoroughly. Anticipate their concerns, questions, and objections by preparing well-thought-out responses and strategies to handle contentious issues gracefully.

Engaging in role-playing exercises with a colleague can provide a safe space to practice handling difficult interactions, and reviewing your approach with a supervisor can yield helpful critiques and suggestions. Such rigorous preparation equips you with a blueprint to navigate meetings confidently and keep negative emotions at bay.

By anticipating the emotional challenges of sales situations and planning for them meticulously, you arm yourself against the kind of reactive responses that could undermine your objectives. Remember, in the complex dance of sales negotiations, retaining control over your emotions is just as crucial as the pitch itself. This not only prevents potential conflicts but also positions you as a composed and trustworthy partner in the eyes of your clients.

The likability factor in sales

Imagine you're in the market for a high-quality mattress and you find the perfect one at a local store. The product meets all your expectations, but there's a catch—you're not quite fond of the salesman. His demeanor just doesn't sit well with you, though you can't pinpoint why. Rather than making the purchase, you decide to check another store that sells the same mattress, albeit at a higher price. Here, you encounter a sales assistant whose charm and amiability instantly win you over. Without hesitation, you buy the mattress from this second store, even though it costs more.

This scenario illustrates a powerful truth in consumer behavior: We tend to buy more from people we like.

So, what can salespeople do to increase their likability? While professionalism and confidence are important, there's a critical yet often overlooked skill: listening. Many salespeople are quick to start their spiel, overwhelming potential customers with information rather than engaging them in a real conversation.

Why do so many salespeople dominate the conversation? The reasons are deeply rooted in emotional responses. For some, a fear of the unknown prompts them to talk more—they feel safer controlling the dialogue. Others talk excessively to assert control or to convey their importance, interrupting frequently to showcase their expertise. Then there are those who simply lack patience, preferring to speed along the conversation rather than allowing the customer to express themselves fully.

If any of these behaviors sound familiar, it's a sign that managing your emotions and improving your listening skills could be beneficial. Effective listening does more than just make you likable—it builds trust and rapport, paving the way for more successful sales interactions.

To become more likable and effective in sales, focus on truly hearing what your customers are saying. Engage with their words, ask meaningful questions, and show genuine interest in their responses. By doing so, you not only enhance your likability but also significantly increase your chances of making a sale. Remember, a customer who feels heard and understood is much more likely to respond positively to your pitch.

Navigating the trust terrain in sales

Think about this: a significant 70 percent of Americans distrust others as a default position. Now, imagine the challenge you, as a sales professional, face in overcoming this inherent skepticism. The image of the dishonest salesperson is so embedded in popular culture that building trust with your prospective clients can seem like an uphill battle.

In the competitive landscape of business, where a single poor decision can have severe financial repercussions, trust becomes more than just a nice-to-have—it's crucial. Once your prospects like you, their next step is to evaluate whether you're reliable enough to do business with.

The cornerstone of the sales process is trust, but establishing it is neither quick nor easy. It's akin to constructing a brick wall, one small piece at a time. Grand gestures won't win over trust; instead, it grows steadily through consistent and reliable actions.

How, then, can you build this vital trust? Consistency is key. For instance, always return phone calls when you say you will, reply to emails promptly, and ensure every detail you provide—down to the smallest number—is accurate. These behaviors might seem minor, but they're fundamental in demonstrating your dependability.

Moreover, every small slip-up can chip away at the foundation of trust you're trying to build. Being late, even if just by a few minutes, sending out a dirty business card, or frequently interrupting during conversations—all these actions subtly signal that you might not be entirely trustworthy.

It's important to note that trust is usually not lost overnight or through a single significant mishap. More often, it's the accumulation of many small failures that erodes confidence over time. Many of these discrepancies arise from inadequate control over one's behaviors, actions, and emotions.

However, everyone makes mistakes, and it's crucial to remember that your prospects are generally inclined to trust you—they have to wrestle with their own cognitive dissonance if they feel they can't. By consistently proving your reliability, you encourage your prospects to not only trust you but also to potentially become repeat customers. So keep laying those bricks thoughtfully and steadily—trust, once solidly built, encourages loyalty and business growth.

Key insights for mastering sales

The essence of exceptional sales performance lies in the understanding and strategic management of emotions—both yours and those of your prospects. Real success in sales goes beyond just presenting persuasive arguments or slick pitches. It fundamentally hinges on cultivating genuine relationships built on trust and likeability.

Prospective clients are naturally inclined to purchase from salespeople they feel connected to on a human level. These connections are fostered not through aggressive selling techniques but through empathy, active listening, and emotional intelligence. By truly engaging with clients and demonstrating consistent behavior that earns trust, you set the stage for not only a sale but potentially a loyal customer relationship.

In essence, the most effective sales approach is one that prioritizes human connection over hard selling, leveraging emotional insights to meet prospects where they are and guide them gently towards a decision. This not only enhances the sales experience but also establishes a foundation for ongoing business relationships.

Sales EQ Quotes by Jeb Blount

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