Sales person selection and emotional intelligence

Did you know that EQ can be part of your sales person selection process? In a previous post I told you about my client who increased his annual income 50% just by learning emotional intelligence.  But taking EQ into account when hiring sales people can add tremendously to your bottom line – and save you a lot of time.

Let me share some findings from an experiment at L’Oreal (the cosmetics company).  When they hired sales people with certain emotional intelligence competencies in the screening process, they found these people significantly outsold people hired the traditional way.  In fact, they sold over 90,000 dollars more annually than those hired without taking EQ into account.  And the first year net revenue increase for that team was more than $2.5 million.  Nothing to sneeze at.

And get this: retention for those people screened for EQ was much better, too. There was 63% less turnover in sales reps when they screened for EQ.  That’s amazing.

Other research at a large computer company found that when EQ was part of their salesperson selection process, new hires were 90% more likely to finish their training than those who were hired the traditional way.

Sales person selection process

I have lot more research I could cite, but let me share how I recommend going about this.

First, you need a well-written job description.  That may sound elementary, but a lot of what I see out there could be much better.  Also make sure you have a clear duty and task list.  Then, for several important reasons, you need to benchmark the job.  This involves using an assessment that measures behavioral, attitudinal, and emotional intelligence factors for what it takes to be successful on that particular job.

To keep the US Department of Labor happy, you’ll need at least three people familiar with the requirements of that job to complete your benchmark.

Then, based on the findings of the benchmark, the job description, and the duty & task list, develop five or six key interview questions. Each question needs to be linked to the highest priority aspects of the job, and they need to draw out an employee’s past experience in those areas. Nowadays we call these behavior-based interview questions.

As you collect resumes, sort them into A, B, and C piles, and call all your A-level applicants.  Your task from there is to ask each of them the same five-or-six questions, and you’re going to assign a grade to each answer.  The applicants with the highest scores are asked to take online assessments that measure the same things your benchmarks did. Those with the closest matches are called in for interviews.

Two useful books

For more info on how to do this, visit our books page and pick up a copy of The Really Simple Way to Hire, Train, and Retain Great Employees.

I also encourage you to download a complementary copy of my book, 10 Steps for Improving Your Emotional Intelligence.   That’s a free gift to you.

Bottom line, there’s no reason not to use EQ as part of your sales person selection process.  The statistics show it’s really a best practice.

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The power of emotional intelligence in sales

If you’re in sales, you probably already know that emotional intelligence in sales organizations should be on management’s radar. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. The opening paragraph in an article about high EQ sales cultures by Colleen Stanley at salesforce.com says it well. To quote her directly, she says:

There are many reasons companies win business. Some are innovative, creating disruptive products and services that make their competitors look like dinosaurs. Others work hard to create high-quality products that are worth their high cost. And there is another reason, one that CEOs and sales managers often overlook. It’s the emotional intelligence (EQ) of the sales department.

There you have it.

I cut my teeth in sales in the Chicago area in the 1970s. And since that time, having taught sales and having coached emotional intelligence to sales teams, I can attest that the topic of emotional intelligence in sales organizations isn’t always on the front burner. But, if you want your sales numbers to go up, it needs to be.

The power of Emotional Intelligence in practice

Let me tell you a story of how emotional intelligence helped one of my clients. The sales manager of this company had a team of four salespeople, and she brought me in to teach them about the DISC assessment and behavioral selling styles (read more about using EQ in teams here).

Keep in mind, she didn’t request the full spectrum of assessments that I normally use when teaching emotional intelligence. All she wanted her team to learn was DISC, so that’s what I taught them.

Without revealing the industry, I will tell you the sales reps worked strictly on commission. One man, who’s name was Jim, had been there for five years, and his average income was roughly $80,000 a year. Some years it was $75,000, other years is was $85,000, but his average annual income over five years was about $80,000.

After learning about DISC behavioral styles and the different ways that each style likes to buy things, Jim went back and reviewed his sales over the previous few years. He determined the main DISC style of those who bought from him, as well as those who didn’t.  What did he learn? He was selling only to people who had styles similar to his!

Armed with that information, Jim became a student on how to adapt his selling style when he encountered prospective clients who had styles different from his.
The power of emotional intelligence in sales
Suffice it to say that he adapted well. The next year Jim made $120,000 – a 50% increase. And, he attributed every penny of that increase to applying emotional intelligence to his sales process.

Harness the power of Emotional intelligence in sales

I have dozens more stories like Jim’s that I could share, but for now, allow me to underscore what is rapidly becoming a truth in business: If companies are not including emotional intelligence in sales training, they are really missing out.

The bottom line all this is that emotional intelligence matters in sales.

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