Women in the workforce hear it all the time: “You’re so emotional.” It’s a criticism levied at women (usually from men who are afraid to express their own feelings). The subtext is: “You’re too emotional to lead, to make levelheaded decisions, to be a grown-up.”
It’s infantilizing, damaging, and worst of all, aims at our core strength. Because our ability to feel, sense, and manage our emotions is actually our superpower.
Women have a stronger drive than men to connect emotionally with other people, and that has both biological and social roots. We’ve evolved for and been trained all our lives to connect emotionally—and that ability is an asset with real economic value.
It’s what our realtor used to win our trust when my husband and I bought our house, for example, and it can be what you use to attract customers who are thrilled to work with you and pay you well for the value you add to their lives. To do that, you need to leverage your emotional intelligence in a cornerstone of entrepreneurial life: sales.
Specifically, within the new model of sales for which women are primed for success. In this article, I’ll share some tips on how to amplify your empathy and apply your innate emotional intelligence to sell more and forge lasting customer connections.
Emotional Intelligence and the Old and New Art of Sales
We’re all living in a messy, in-between moment when the old way and the new way of doing sales coexist. In comparing the two, the one thing that sets them apart—emotional intelligence—becomes impossible to ignore.
When it’s missing, salespeople tend to do whatever it takes, such as reaching out blindly to prospects using mass cold calls and other aggressive, impersonal tactics. They ignore or push past objections, sticking to a script ,and try to talk the other person into saying yes.
The new way, in contrast, puts emotional intelligence at the center of everything that happens in the sales process. As a seller, your primary aim is to understand the customer’s needs or problems, and you do that by listening—not just to respond, but to understand.
You get out of your own head and into the customer’s by paying attention not only to what they’re saying, but also how they’re saying it. Your focus, instead of being on expressing yourself, is on serving the other person, which is what women are socialized to do. This emotionally informed sales process works better and feels better for everyone.
Empathy, which is the ability to feel what someone else is feeling, is a crucial piece of emotional intelligence. It involves not only reading someone else’s emotions but also sharing them. To build and maintain your customers’ trust, it’s essential that your customers see that you genuinely care about them.
Let’s look at my fitness coaching business as an example. My ideal customer was a woman who wanted to take control of her health and her body image but couldn’t do it alone. Before she found me on Instagram, she was feeling pretty crappy about her body. She probably experienced anxiety about her health, confusion about what to eat and how to exercise, and shame for not living up to her aspirations in these areas.
That is not the headspace of someone who’s ready to shell out serious money for high-end fitness coaching and dive into the program with unstoppable enthusiasm. To be ready to buy, she needed to feel convinced that her problem was solvable, excited that I had the right solution for her, and confident that with my help, she would be capable of producing the results she wanted. My job was to lead her down that path from anxiety and self-doubt to trust and self-empowerment—to show her that I empathized, and genuinely care.
The best news: as a woman, you already have an advantage. Because research shows that women generally tend to demonstrate greater empathy than men.
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” – Viktor E. Frankl
How to Strengthen Your Empathy
OK, you’re thinking. I’m a woman, but sales still freak me out. What if my feeling-with-others tools are a little rusty? Intentional practice can strengthen your empathy and keep it top of mind. Incorporate these into your everyday life to amplify your empathy:
Talk to new people. Invite a casual acquaintance out to lunch to get to know them better or strike up a conversation with that neighbor you always wave to but have never actually met.
Practice curiosity. In every conversation, make curiosity your highest priority. Go beyond the usual small talk with deeper questions that provoke more intimate, genuine dialogue. Follow that up with great listening.
Try out a different life. Get out of your comfort zone and try on a new outlook by doing things outside your normal routine, which can open your mind to the ways other people’s lives and views are different from yours. Start by traveling to a new place. Do something you’ve never done before, like playing a new sport. Read books about people who are unlike you.
If you do a few of these things every day, you’ll quickly notice your instinct for empathy becoming stronger.
Managing Your Emotions During the Sales Process
Empathy is just one piece of emotional intelligence you’ll need to master sales. Another is managing emotions. That’s the skill that will allow you to disconnect your ego from the result of the sale, and meet your customer where they are.
If you’re emotionally hung up on whether you’ll get a yes or a no, there’s no way you’ll be able to listen with empathy and adapt your response according to the customer’s needs. You’ll end up interpreting every objection, question, or refusal as a personal attack, and that can leave you feeling nervous, angry, or dejected. With those emotions in the room, you’d be amazed at how quickly the sales process can unravel.
There’s an easy perspective shift that solves this problem immediately: the sale isn’t about you at all—it’s about the customer. If you’re thinking too much about yourself, you’ll get stuck in your head when you really need to be in their head. They need you to help them solve a problem, so the more you focus on listening to them and showing them how your solution will improve their problem, the easier it will be to take your ego out of the equation.
For my students who have trouble managing their emotions during sales conversations, I do recommend using practices like affirmations, mantras, and meditation to get in the right mindset. During the conversation, check in with yourself occasionally and ask who you’re paying attention to, yourself or the other person. If you apply these simple practices regularly, pretty soon you’ll approach every sales conversation with excitement and a sense of possibility.
Mirroring Your Customer
Once your ego is in check, you need to meet your customer where they are emotionally. Mismatched vibes are uncomfortable. Just imagine, if you were a woman on a mission ready to get the job done and the salesperson was the definition of zen, would you think she was the right person to help you?
You want your customer to feel you’re on the same wavelength. So, mirror their emotional state and energy level at the start of the sales conversation. This will make them more open to following as you guide them toward the emotional state you want them to be in.
That’s not to say if someone comes to you frustrated, you mirror that and spend the entire conversation feeding each other’s annoyance. Instead, show that you get their frustration, then lead them toward relief by explaining how you can solve their irritating problem.
Paying Attention, Every Day
I hope you’ve realized that if you pay close attention to this crucial skill set, you can strengthen it just by going about your daily life. No need to set aside time to practice, meditate, or reflect.
Just keep doing what you do—working, studying, shopping, playing, socializing, caring for others—but with a more conscious awareness of the emotions in and around you. Who’s feeling what? How can you tell? How can you make them feel better and strengthen their connection with you?
Cultivating your emotional intelligence is good for all your relationships, but pay special attention to how it affects business interactions. As a customer, when have you felt thrilled about a purchase? Underwhelmed? Now, whenever you buy something, notice those feelings and try to identify where they come from.
This deliberate practice and heightened awareness will strengthen your emotional intelligence, and soon you’ll feel like you can almost read your customers’ minds. You’ll empathize, mirror them, and create lasting connections that will serve you, your brand, and, most importantly, your customers, for the life of your business.
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By investing your time and effort in networking, you will gain more business through the relationships you make
Are you completely new to networking?
Then this article is a great place to start. Networking isn’t hard on paper…you go along to online and in-person meetings, make new connections and build relationships, and those relationships lead to more work so you can grow your business! The challenge is that in reality, it isn’t quite so straightforward, as our emotions get involved and make things much tougher.
It’s incredibly common for nerves to creep in and to feel overwhelmed and apprehensive when it comes to networking – even when it isn’t new to you. But how can you become more successful at it, feel less self-conscious, and make networking work for you and your business?
Here’s a few tips to help you embrace every business networking opportunity you get, so you can grow your business and achieve your goals.
Rock up with confidence
If you want to keep those nerves at bay and ooze confidence at networking get-togethers, you’ll need to downplay it rather than seeing it as a big occasion. Try not to put pressure on yourself and see it as a casual meet-up with a bunch of people with similar goals to you. To help you relax in the run-up to the event, be sure to set achievable goals and expectations before you go.
Keep your chin up and your goals in mind – positivity is key. One easy goal for your first networking meeting is very simply to speak to one other person and see where the conversation goes. Introduce yourself and your business, but take the time to listen to their story, too. It’ll only take a few minutes and will be over before you know it, so it’s nothing to fear. You may even enjoy it and want to speak to a few more people, too!
Where to go networking
If you’ve never been networking before, it might not be very easy to find a group – but only because there’s so much choice and you don’t know where to start your search! Groups come in different sizes and styles, so it’s important to find one that suits you and your business. Informal, formal, big, small… the choice is yours.
For your first meeting, start small to ease yourself in – a big group could prove too daunting, and stop you from feeling comfortable enough to get involved. After all, you want to make a strong first impression!
If you’re wondering which group to opt for in the long-term, give a few a go! Get a feel for them, speak to as many people as you can, and see which one suits! You’ll know when a group feels right for you, and you can see where those all-important relationships are most likely to be built. If a group doesn’t feel like the right for you, give a different one a go.
Get more leads and referrals
This will happen for you, as long as you put the effort into building those relationships. If you take the time to get to know people, and then check in with them and support them, they’ll see you as a trustworthy and reliable contact who they can call on. And when they feel that way, those leads and referrals you’re looking for will come a-knocking.
Once you’ve made relationships with people who you trust, and they’ve had a positive experience working with you, you can even ask for referrals! But don’t rush this, as you don’t want to inadvertently push people away or try and force the relationship along too quickly.
When you do get an opportunity to work with someone you’ve met at a networking group, go above and beyond to offer more value than they’re expecting, as then, they’ll be much more likely recommend you and introduce you to more of their contacts!
Grow your business
By investing your time and effort in networking, you will gain more business through the relationships you make, and you will be able to grow your business.
We know that it’s not easy, going networking for the very first time. And that’s why we want to give you all the advice and tools that you need so you can walk in with confidence and make the most of the opportunity.
2023 is just around the corner, and you have the chance to make it the year you make networking work for your business. And the benefits could be incredibly amazing for your business, just like they have been for ours, and many business owners we have worked with over the years.
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