Sales coaching plays a pivotal role in the success of sales teams. While technical skills and product knowledge are crucial, emotional intelligence (EI) is an often-overlooked factor that can significantly influence coaching effectiveness.
“I think most sales coaches overlook emotions and EI during their coaching sessions. They think they can use a standard template to suit everyone’s requirements and solve problems with tried and tested strategies. I think what’s more important is understanding the individual, their mindset, and why they have the shortcomings they exhibit,” said a sales analyst from a reputed agency in India.
We need to delve deeper into the importance of empathy and self-awareness in sales coaching and explore how they can enhance sales performance. Let’s discover how EI can make a substantial impact on the sales coaching process.
Understanding Emotional Intelligence in Sales Coaching
Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to recognize, understand, and manage one’s own emotions and effectively navigate interpersonal relationships.
Sales coaching involves guiding and developing the skills of sales representatives and senior level leaders. Emotional intelligence helps coaches connect with their team members on a deeper level, fostering trust, motivation, and growth.
“I once had a coach who just didn’t have any EQ. He asked me what I wished to improve about my sales pitching style and I told him I tend to be a doormat sometimes. I tell the clients way too much about our strategies and promise unattainable goals. He began to get deeper into my upbringing and made me feel uncomfortable. I kept telling him not to get personal, but he kept saying my professional attitude was a mirror of my upbringing and didn’t let me go. One of the worst sessions I have ever attended,” said a flustered sales executive from Delhi, India.
Empathy: A Cornerstone of Effective Sales Coaching
Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person, is vital for effective sales coaching. Coaches who demonstrate empathy can connect with their salespeople, creating a safe space for open communication and personal development. It can foster trust and respect to help people open up and warm to coaches.
Empathy in Action
Imagine you are in a sales coaching session where the coach doesn’t let you speak. They just begin to assume what your issues could be and start sharing advice. They put you down by being too harsh and get straight to the solutions for problems you didn’t even know you had.
Would you feel comfortable attending the rest of this session? And do you think it would benefit you and make you feel good about yourself? If the answer is no, then it shows a lack of empathy and emotional intelligence for the coach. The goal of the coaching session is to not put you down and insult you into changing your ways.
“I once had a coach who was old enough to be my father. He told me so directly to my face and even told me he considered me his daughter. During the session, he got too personal with me and began to criticize my lifestyle. When I almost broke down and was about to leave, he apologized saying that was how he treated his daughter. He was a strict parent and always chastised his daughter to make her understand things. He had taken things too far and tried the same with me – how unprofessional!” said a sales leader from South India.
There are ways to combat such issues with empathy. For example, instead of jumping in to immediately point out mistakes, an empathetic coach will first try to understand the underlying challenges faced by their client. By acknowledging their emotions and concerns, the coach can offer tailored guidance and support, ultimately leading to improved performance.
Questions you can ask yourself:
-Does my sales coach actively listen to me during coaching sessions?
-Does my coach demonstrate genuine interest and understanding in my experiences, challenges, and goals?
-Does my sales coach take the time to understand my perspective before offering advice or guidance?
-Does my coach show empathy by acknowledging and validating my emotions and concerns?
-Does my sales coach tailor their approach to meet my individual needs and preferences?
-Does my coach show empathy by providing constructive feedback and guidance in a considerate and compassionate manner?
Self-Awareness: A Coach’s Guiding Light
Self-awareness, the ability to recognize and understand one’s own emotions and their impact on others, is a crucial aspect of effective sales coaching. Coaches with high self-awareness can regulate their own emotions, set a positive example, and adapt their coaching style to meet individual needs.
Self-Awareness in Action
A self-aware sales coach will proactively reflect on their strengths, weaknesses, and biases, ensuring they provide unbiased feedback and guidance. By being aware of their own emotions, they can prevent personal frustrations from negatively influencing their coaching approach, maintaining a supportive and constructive environment.
“I recently attended a sales coaching session that involved a very self-aware coach. She was actually seven years younger to me and was aware of my unconscious bias. She made it clear right at the start of the session to not let age and personal biases come into play. She would listen to me with an open mind and asked me to follow the same. This status quo was set right before the session and helped both of us warm to each other,” said a sales executive from India.
Questions to ask yourself:
-Does my sales coach actively seek feedback and input from others to gain insights into their coaching style and effectiveness?
– Does my coach openly acknowledge and take responsibility for their mistakes or shortcomings?
– Does my coach show a willingness to reflect on their own thoughts, emotions, and reactions during coaching sessions?
– Does my sales coach demonstrate an ability to adapt their coaching approach based on the needs and preferences of different coachees?
-Does my coach display a high level of self-confidence without crossing into arrogance or overconfidence?
Enhancing Sales Performance through Emotional Intelligence
Now let’s see through the eyes of the coach. With these details and best practices in mind, what is the best way to treat your clients to create a solid rapport?
Building Trust and Rapport
By demonstrating empathy and self-awareness, sales coaches can establish trust and rapport with their team members. This foundation of trust fosters open communication, encourages risk-taking, and creates a supportive environment. One where sales representatives feel comfortable seeking guidance and embracing continuous improvement.
Developing Resilience and Motivation
Emotionally intelligent sales coaches understand the importance of addressing the emotional aspects of sales. They can help their team members cope with rejection, setbacks, and high-pressure situations by providing guidance, instilling confidence, and reinforcing a positive mindset. This resilience and motivation drive enhanced performance and greater sales success.
Active Listening and Empathy
Sales coaches should practice active listening and empathy to create a solid rapport with their clients. This means genuinely paying attention to their needs, concerns, and challenges. By actively listening, coaches can demonstrate that they understand and care about their clients’ perspectives.
They should also empathize with their clients’ emotions and show genuine understanding and support. This approach helps build trust and a deeper connection between the coach and the client, which can lead to more effective coaching sessions and improved sales performance.
Emotional intelligence, characterized by empathy and self-awareness, is a game-changer in sales coaching. By harnessing these emotional competencies, sales coaches can foster stronger relationships and enhance sales performance.
Investing in the development of emotional intelligence skills for sales coaches can lead to long-term success for both individuals and organizations, making it an invaluable aspect of the sales coaching process. To know more about sales coaching and avail the benefits of it, reach out to us.