Episode TwoHundredTen

The Role of Emotional Intelligence in Sales Leadership

Guest: Colleen Stanley, CEO of SalesLeadership, Inc

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About This Episode

What do you think of when you hear the word “soft”? 

Kittens? A mother’s gentle touch? A silk scarf? 

If someone says, a salesperson is soft, what’s the implication?

Ten years ago, using that term to describe a salesperson meant they couldn’t hack it. They weren’t tough enough to make it in sales.

Colleen Stanley, CEO of SalesLeadership, Inc knows all about that perception. She started out in sales without the luxury of training or even collateral and was the furthest thing from soft.

She built her own lead lists, figured things out on the fly, and eventually built a leadership training program, as well as a company around a soft skill; Emotional Intelligence or EQ. 

Like the silk scarf we mentioned above, “soft” doesn’t always mean “weak”. 

Pound for pound, spider silk is stronger than steel. 

Colleen sits down to map out how a soft skill will make your sales game strong as silk.

How a soft skill produces hard sales results

As a sales leader, your approach is everything. Coaching others, especially in these challenging times, can make or break a bottom line. Connecting your emotional skills with your sales skills is the core of your success as a leader.

Examining your behaviors and those of your team as individuals and as a collective, may reveal the fact that many of the challenges come down to emotional reactions. 

Get these in check, and you have an entirely new sales style. 

The 3 E’s of Emotionally Intelligent Sales 

Emotion Management

Learning to manage your emotions is at the core of successful leadership. Teams watch what their leaders do, not what they say. Remaining consistent and even builds trust.

With so many emotions attached to sales, it’s not a surprise that emotional behaviors and results are intertwined. Some of the things can make sales act or react emotionally:

  • Having a tough buyer pressuring you to wrap up.
  • Being in a meeting that feels above your “pay grade. 
  • A sales quota hanging over you…
  • A buying signal! They are going to say yes!!!!
  • Your life outside of work is stressful or distracting.

These are circumstances salespeople, and sales leaders have all experienced. 

How you handle them is what separates the rookies from the pros.

Insecurity, anxiety, the pressure to close, excitement, external influences are all a part of sales! Acknowledging this fact and tapping into the human aspect is what Colleen’s training approach is centered around. Knowing you have the emotional part of these scenarios handled is a powerful tool in your arsenal. Maybe the most powerful of all.

“My superpower whenever I didn’t know what to do? I just became ultra curious. It takes you far in sales and also in life.”

Emotional Self-Awareness

Having the mindset to ask yourself the hard questions is the difference between growth and remaining stagnant. Don’t shy away from asking yourself the hard questions. Did you show up positively for your team today? Did you stumble? Were you patient? What could you do better? 

Being aware of your behaviors on an on-going basis allows you to modify them. Carving out quiet time to reflect on your practices and performance is vital, and being in touch with how your behavior is affecting your results and the people around you gives you an edge. 

Colleen also encourages a village. Peers that know their craft, and yours can be an incredible asset. Find your contemporaries. Connect with people you admire, and contribute to dialogues. Honest feedback given and received is priceless for those who are brave enough to participate.


When a salesperson comes to you with an issue and instead of stopping to validate how they may be feeling about it ex: disappointed, lost, frustrated, is your tendency to jump in and problem solve? Don’t do an “empathy drive-by,” as Colleen calls it. 

You assume you know what needs to be done, and you want to coach your salesperson and show them the solution to their problem.

 What you’ve missed is an opportunity to help you and your salesperson to grow.  

Acknowledging the emotion underneath the challenge and helping them process that part will allow them to exhale a bit. As anyone in sales will tell you, sometimes an exhale can be the difference between a sale and a flop. As a leader, it is your job to mentor and teach, but it is also your job to listen and learn. 

Being at the top of your sales leadership game

Gary V, Tony Robbins, Zig Zigler, most C-Suite folks, all have something in common. 

They may call it something different, but ultimately it is EQ.

Find your way to your highest and most successful self through the ultimate portal. You!

For more engaging sales conversations, subscribe to The Sales Engagement Podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on our website.

About The Podcast

The Sales Engagement podcast is the #1 podcast focused on engaging your customers and prospects in the modern sales era. This show features real-life stories and best practices from revenue leaders doing the job day in and day out, in a casual, radio-like talk show.

Each episode features modern tactics, strategies, hacks, and tips to get the most out of your sales engagement strategy and help you navigate the next generation of sales. You’ll find energetic talks that will provide you with real actionable value around building meaningful connections and creating a better selling experience through authentic conversations that you can measure.

The Sales Engagement podcast is here to help B2B sales leaders, customer success leaders, and marketing leaders innovate and usher in the next era of modern sales by building pipeline, up-selling customers, and ultimately generating more revenue with more efficiency.

Hosted by Joe Vignolo, Senior Content Managing Editor at Outreach, and Mark Kosoglow, Vice President of Sales at Outreach.

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