How to use emotional intelligence to win more business

By rotide
Created 04/06/2021 - 12:33
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By Gary Williams, founder and CEO of professional services business development coaching consultancy BD Coaching Hub [1]

Technological innovation, pricing structures, expertise and experience are all key to success - but it's emotional intelligence (EI) that will really give you the edge over your competitors.

At a time when automation and artificial intelligence are bringing new opportunities and greater efficiencies, EI is rapidly becoming a vital core capability for the future as it's something machines find hard to emulate. Yet all too often the focus in an organisation is on demonstrating competence to a potential new client - at the expense of empathy and a genuine interest in building a trusting relationship.

Engaged, happy staff with high esteem are more productive - and stronger client relationships help a business run more smoothly and win more work. At the heart of both these things sits EI. Beware of falling into the trap of equating being 'nice' with strong EI, as they are not the same thing. You can't just overlay a thin EI veneer - you have to really listen to and understand your clients and be proactive. Remember things they've told you in the past, for example, and ask follow-up questions when you next speak to them.

The way in which people build relationships often varies drastically, according to their profession. There might be more analytical introverts, for example, in certain fields. But there is no correlation between being an extrovert and being 'good' at client management. In fact, introverts who are very detailed and analytical often make excellent business developers and client relationship managers - they simply need to apply a methodical approach and develop their EI.

So where do you begin when it comes to demonstrating EI in dealings with clients? Here are a few simple tips to get you started:

1. Know yourself

Be aware of how you feel in any given situation. Tune in to that emotion, recognise it and learn from it. If, for example, you're about to join an online meeting or present to a new audience, take stock of your mental state and evaluate how it might affect the situation.

2. Channel the acronym WAIT (Why am I talking?)

Some people talk when they're nervous or excited. It's easy to get carried away when talking to a client and begin to 'solutionise' too early - potentially missing something crucial. So, take a breath, slow down and ask yourself: "Why am I talking?"

3. Show empathy

Empathy is not necessarily agreeing with everything someone says but standing in their shoes and understanding their perspective. If you can reflect back to the client their hopes, concerns, challenges and fears, you will be building a strong relationship.

4. Develop a high degree of curiosity

Genuinely enquiring about people and taking a real interest in them and their situation will build rapport and create trust.

5. Be quick to praise

Accentuate the strengths in others and go out of your way to deliver positive feedback on them. This can be anyone who is relevant to the discussion - a receptionist, a junior on the team or your client. Don't overdo it though!

6. Under promise, over deliver

It's easy to make someone happy at the point of promise - but we are all measured at the point of delivery. Being known as someone who always does what they say they're going to do is a powerful personal brand.

Returning to basic human relationship principles will help you do the best for your clients, come up with the most innovative ideas and secure their buy-in for future projects.


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