Before becoming a coach, I was a sales executive in the IT industry for over 20 years. I saw my share of situations during every phase of the selling process including: prospecting, site surveys, product demonstration, objection handling, closing, price negotiation, delivery, and post sales support.
During my career, I can’t think of a single time when I wasn’t able to swiftly turn an irate customer into a happy one. For some strange reason, I welcomed these opportunities. There’s a challenge jumping into the fire and bringing calm to a situation.
The reason I was so good at keeping customers happy (it ain’t bragging if you did it) was I had a natural ability to see situations unfolding before they took place. In addition, I was in tune with my own emotions as well as the customers. Today we call this, Emotional Intelligence (EI) or Emotional Quotient (EQ).
There was this one time, I received a phone call on an idle Tuesday morning, from my largest revenue producing customer. My main contact at the account, Dave, a project manager, said there was something he wanted to talk to me about. He then went on a diatribe sounding like Sergeant Carter from the sitcom “Gomer Pyle.”
Dave’s complaint made no sense. At all. It was almost if he was manufacturing a story to see if I’d make another concession on a sale we recently negotiated.
As I pulled the phone receiver away from my ear, my first thoughts were “There’s something going on with Dave right now that has nothing to do with me.” My mindset turned to Mr. Sympathy.
I let Dave rant and rave for five minutes or so. I sensed him running low on the arrows he was propelling in my direction. My intuition said he was almost done and looking to take a breath. “Dave, how can I be of service to you today?” I said in a calming voice. As I waited for him to jump through the phone, something interesting happened. There was a pregnant pause of silence lasting about 15 seconds. That’s a long time to not hear a single syllable coming from either an upset a customer or a salesperson.
I hit the pause button in a neutrally charged way.
Dave understood, that I understood, this had nothing to do with me. He respected my ability to remain calm, cool, and collected. Deep down, without saying, he appreciated me being his punching bag for the day. From that day forward, I was his best buddy.
The key moment was when I searched inside myself to discern the situation at hand; keeping my emotions in check; seeing the situation from the customers point of view. Then, visualizing a scenario where we lived happily ever after.
There’s five dimensions of emotional intelligence:
- Self-Awareness – the ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions and drives, as well as their effect on others.
- Self-Regulation – the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods, and the propensity to suspend judgment to think before acting.
- Motivation – a passion to work for reasons that go beyond money or status and a propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence.
- Empathy – the ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people.
- Social Skills – a proficiency in managing relationships and building networks.
Can you see the link between Emotional Intelligence, sales, and customer service?
When your team has the confidence to understand what they’re feeling, they can handle difficult situations with ease and grace. In addition, being able to understand customers’ emotions will help them see through the murky reaction waters and approach each problem from a high definition mindset.
Studies show that sales and customer service personnel who take EQ training, increase revenues and deliver strong customer service and realize better customer retention than those who have not (Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations).
If you’d like to discuss how EQ can increase the performance of your team, contact us for a complimentary consultation.
Photo courtesy of final gather and Flickr Creative Commons.
Working as an Account Manager for a health insurance carrier with almost 2000 small employer groups and over 200 insurance producers on my plate, I get my share of disgruntled calls. I have learned to just listen, if there is a point, take down the important parts and let them vent and then when the opportunity presents itself do much like you did, Steve, as them how can I help them today. What is it they need me to do. I am not always able to make it work out due to laws and regulations that are out of our control, but even if I can’t I make sure they know that I have sincerely done everything possible and more than that, that I ‘understand’ their frustration and care about them. I have had to deliver tough news that I wish I didn’t but doing it in a compassionate way and going the extra mile to explain why I can’t make it happen if that’s the case goes a long way. I have been doing this job for 15 yrs and have some very loyal clients who know they can count on me.
Christine, you’re authentic. Your clients understand you’re for real. I also sense you have a high EQ.
Glad you stopped by!
I remember having a customer who couldn’t be pleased.
I completely lost my patience and they didn’t take it to well.
Eventually this customer left our company.
Thanks for demonstrating how patience can pay off.
James, live and learn. You’ll do better next time.
This is so true. I had this happen with a client just the other day. She was mistreated by the airlines while traveling on an itinerary that I didn’t even book… she just needed someplace to vent her frustrations. She appreciates the fact that I listen and sympathize and in turn she realizes that what the airlines do and how they treat her do not reflect the level of service I provide. Too bad for them.
Sally, this was a great thing that you did.
Simply being present is such a powerful gift to someone who’s going through a tough time.
Having a professional travel agent in your corner is priceless. You provided added value the airlines can’t deliver.
Thanks for stopping by to share with others.