Interpersonal skills are non-negotiable for anyone in a client- or patient- facing role
Every year and certainly more frequently during the past recession, we see more and more businesses closing down. There are many elements that make or break a business but sales techniques are right there at the top of the list.
And we all know your ability to sell is based on your communication skills, right?
Well yes, partly, but we need to look more specifically at your team’s interpersonal skills (team based skills between people) – which go far beyond communication and are non-negotiable for anyone in a client- or patient-facing role.
What are Interpersonal Skills?
Interpersonal skills are how we interact with others – in our personal, work and social settings. It is how we form relationships, how we get along with others – how we work and play together. Communication skills are a subset of these interpersonal skills and describe how we share our thoughts, needs, desires, hopes and fears with others.
Don’t get me wrong, good communication definitely means good business.
Effective communication is essential between owners, investors, managers and staff and with your clients and suppliers. Sales are dependent on many things including advertising and pricing – customers come to your business because you have what they want at a price they can afford.
But that does not guarantee the sale – that depends on your sales technique which is heavily relies on ‘emotional intelligence’.
There is another set of skills (‘intrapersonal’ skills) that when combined with interpersonal skills is also responsible for a successful sale. A term which you’ve probably heard many times before, “emotional intelligence” involves our ability to sense and develop both sets of skills. ‘Inter’ means between, and this references teamwork based skills.
‘Intra’ means within and this references our ability to self-manage. Emotional intelligence is not based simply on our IQ, but on how we manage our own emotions and those of others, how we overcome challenges or internal disappointments, how we empathise with others and how we defuse conflicts.
Emotional intelligence was first coined in 1995 by Daniel Goleman in his ground breaking book of the same name. A few years ago, the Harvard Review published a piece by Goleman on the importance of emotional intelligence to both business and leadership.
Now studied and taught in tertiary institutions, emotional intelligence is considered one of the predictors of success in both our personal and our business lives.
A successful business needs people with good interpersonal and intrapersonal skills. And to be successful in sales – you need to leverage both of these skill sets in unique ways for each stage of the sales process.
How emotional intelligence can be applied to sales stages
The ‘Sales Greeting’ and ‘Warm Up’ Sales Stages
The ability to pick up on non-verbal cues are essential here – it is vital that you interpret and act on a customer’s body language and behaviour correctly.
Your own behaviour, judgement and your decision-making skills will have important implications for opening a successful dialogue with a customer.
The need to understand that they can trust you, and that means you need to self-manage and overcome our instinctual aversion to strangers when meeting a potential new customer.
The ‘Opening’ Sales Stage
Interpersonal skills like listening to the customer’s needs, assertively taking charge of a conversation, empathising with someone, and aligning your body language to mirror or match theirs all helps to build trust and a good rapport with the customer at this part of the sales process.
The ‘Closing’ and ‘Objection Handling’ Stages
If you have made good use of your interpersonal and communication skills up to this point of a sales meeting, then you should now be ready to close the sale. You have make a connection based on trust and can now address any objections or issues they may have with your product or service.
Here you need your negotiation and problem solving skills to help the client make the right decision for themselves. You need to be assertive – in a good way – by explaining or demonstrating why your service or product answers their need.
Throughout the whole sales process your verbal skills are important – but you can also see that a different mix of both interpersonal and intrapersonal skills are needed in varying amounts at each different stage of the sales process.