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The Sales EQ and Sales IQ of Effective Sales Management Coaching

Presented by: Colleen Stanley

I enjoy teaching and coaching salespeople the hard skills of running effective sales calls, what I refer to as Sales IQ. It’s challenging---and fun---to analyze and determine the best strategies to unseat a strong incumbent, attract the attention of an overloaded prospect or eliminate price objections. 

But I am also aware of the importance of teaching the soft skills, the Sales EQ, needed for sales success. 

If a salesperson isn’t executing the right selling behaviors, there is a good chance that self-limiting beliefs might be the culprit.  Beliefs drive our actions or inactions.  I can train and coach hard skills all day long, however, if a salesperson has a self-limiting belief, it impacts the execution of those selling skills.    

Take a look at a few examples.

#1.  Existing competitors.  The salesperson’s self-limiting belief might be, “There’s no way they are going to switch. They’ve been doing business with Pete for 10 years. It’s too much of a hassle to switch.”  The salesperson throws in the sales towel before she even runs the appointment. She doesn’t devote time researching hidden gaps in the competitor's offering. No customized value propositions are designed to point out the gaps without mentioning the competitors’ names. The sales meeting is average, at best, and forcing the prospect to settle for the status quo.   

#2.  Competing against larger competitors.  Imposter syndrome, we’re not good enough, self-talk can appear in these selling situations. The salesperson starts believing bigger is better. “We are really going to have to prove ourselves before the prospect will even consider us.” As a result of this limiting self-talk, the salesperson shows up to the meeting and oversells why your small company is good enough to play in the big leagues.  This overselling behavior creates a seed of doubt in the prospect's mind. The prospect wonders why the salesperson seems desperate to prove he can do the job. The salesperson loses the deal.  Not because your company is small, but because your salesperson believes that small is a competitive disadvantage.

#3.  Deal size.  The salesperson lands a meeting with a whale, an elephant. This multi-million-dollar deal is the largest she’s ever sold.  Then the negative chatter begins. “The prospect is never going to invest this much money. This is a lot of cash.”  The salesperson ends up taking her wallet to the meeting and sells a smaller solution, one that is comfortable with her concept of money.

Some sales managers think this “belief system stuff” is pop psychology. Challenge your own belief system. Step outside the profession of sales and examine other scenarios where human beings aren’t demonstrating the right behaviors—even when they know they should be.   

  • Friends that continue to date losers because they believe they can’t attract---or deserve---a nice person in their life.
  • Colleagues believe that age is impacting their success. “I’m too young for anyone to take me seriously. Or, “I’ve been selling for a long time…why do I need to learn virtual prospecting and selling skills?”

Coach to the right end of the sales performance issue. And in some cases, that means working on changing your salesperson's beliefs.   

Start with yourself and apply the EQ skills of self-awareness and impulse control.  When you hear a salesperson give excuses about your company being too small or prices too high, manage your impulse to provide immediate advice to the salesperson. 

A tool I use to manage my impulse control is visualization. I see myself removing my coaching hat and replace with a new hat, an investigator hat.  This change in perspective helps me stop teaching, preaching and convincing. Curiosity helps me look for clues as to why this salesperson possesses this self-limiting belief. My role as an investigator helps me ask more questions and better coaching questions such as:    

  • Existing competitor. “Unseating an incumbent is always a challenge. What’s your biggest worry in meeting with a prospect that has a long relationship with the competition? How do you think that is affecting how you show up to the meeting?” 

 These simple questions help the salesperson uncover a negative belief, based solely on perception.  It also starts a self-discovery coaching conversation on how this belief impacts the salesperson’s ability to show up to meet with confidence and conviction.   

  • Competing against a larger competitor. “Your concern about our company size is a fair one. What’s beneath the concern about our company size? Is that belief based on perception or something the prospect actually said?”

These questions help salespeople understand that they are making up stories, ones the prospect never brought up or cares about. 

  • Deal size. “What do you believe the difference is in selling an average size deal and a larger deal?  How many of those selling skills do you currently possess?  How many of those skills are you capable of learning?”

These questions help the salesperson recognized that many of the same selling principles apply---regardless of deal size.  It also helps the salesperson realize they can control their destiny because learning new skills is well within their control.   

Continue coaching the hard-selling skills, Sales IQ skills. Pre-briefing and debriefing calls are important and impactful.  And equally important is coaching and improving the soft skills, Sales EQ skills, because they do produce hard sales results.    

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