Emotional Intelligence for Sales Leadership

with Colleen Stanley


Today, I had the great honor to be joined by Colleen Stanley, president of SalesLeadership, a sales development firm specializing in the integration of emotional intelligence, sales, and sales leadership skills. If that’s not impressive enough, she is also the author of several books and has received numerous awards for being, well, amazing. (Read more about Colleen here!)

But as usual… we have to go back to the basics first.


Growing up on a farm in a small town, Colleen thought she would be a farmer’s wife or secretary. If the above intro didn’t key you in, that is NOT what happened. Call it serendipity, but Colleen’s big pivot was a company taking on people with no experience, and everything took off from there! 

How Do You Define Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?

With so many definitions out there, it is difficult to narrow down the definition of EQ. I love how Colleen put it in our podcast. (Spoiler: Save yourself and listen here!) 

“It’s having the awareness of what emotions you’re having, why you’re feeling the emotion, and probably most important, how the emotions affect how you show up.”

Take that a step further. Now apply it to those around you. It’s a lot of self-awareness and other-awareness to distill it down to that first definition. 

Closing the “Knowing/Doing Gap.”

It’s one thing to learn hard skills. It is a completely different thing to learn emotional skills. What became apparent to Colleen (and inspired her books) was the emotional side of people in sales.  When EQ skills are lacking, it manifests itself during sales negotiations. This is not always due to a lack of negotiation skills, but the inability to manage the emotions at play. They had the “knowing” down, but the “doing” was disconnected. If you’re not trained in both skills then the disconnect occurs. 

EQ Gaps

One of the easiest EQ gaps to spot is if you’ve made the mistake of hiring someone who is not coachable. Empathy is, arguably, one of the most important skills in sales or leadership. That’s where learning EQ awareness comes into play. When hiring, you have to look beyond the hard skills and see what EQ skills they bring to the table. It’s not just reducing the volatility of who’s showing up in those conversations; it’s building resilience to stay in the game when you’re getting the nose or it’s not going to plan. Hire people with an internal locus of control, but continue to develop it.

Paying Attention

Are you paying attention? Good. It’s important to teach your employees the skill of focusing, because if you back that up, paying attention is the core of empathy. The core of listening is… you guessed it, paying attention. One of the biggest issues in the workplace is that employers are creating a stressful space full of distractions and multitasking that leads to inevitable burnout. With the world going remote, many managers are struggling because they didn’t choose to go remote. It’s important to become more intentional in the coaching conversation. 

Making the Implicit, Explicit

In this current working environment, it’s important to recalibrate the rules of engagement. Assumptions have to disappear. Schedule the conversations. Talk about what is working or what isn’t working. You have to lose judgment. Meet your employees’ hierarchy of needs (Nod to Maslow – if you know, you know). If you don’t meet 1 or 2, you can’t possibly be meeting 3 for your employees. 

Reflecting Your Own EQ Level

Awareness is your first step in reflecting your own EQ level. There are self-assessments you can take or ask your peers! Blind spots are called blind spots for a reason. The second step? Make a decision. Decide if it’s important and act on it. The research shows that developing your EQ is crucial in creating and keeping human connections and relationships. Become more intentional in developing your emotional intelligence. Being remote requires even more intentionality. Save time on your calendar for relationship building, no matter how busy you are. 

The Takeaway: Lacking EQ can really damage or destroy relationships. Study and research EQ. Take advantage of the time you have to build your EQ awareness and skillset. You won’t be sorry.

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