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The Importance of Soft Skills in a Hard Sales World


Soft skills might not be on your radar, but trust me, they should be. Those intangible qualities that don't necessarily show up on a spreadsheet can make all the difference in the world. And in today's sales landscape, where generative AI is becoming a game-changer, soft skills are more crucial than ever.


Think of soft skills as the "people skills" - empathy, communication, adaptability, and of course, emotional intelligence (EQ). While your product knowledge and sales strategies (the hard skills) are essential, it's your soft skills that help you connect, build trust, and foster lasting relationships with clients.


Imagine this scenario: You're using a state-of-the-art AI tool to create a touch plan. You start working it and when you get the meeting, use it to also complete your Client Meeting Plan (if you aren’t doing this, you are most likely missing some great opportunities - check out this workshop). AI has helped and you are feeling extremely prepared for the call. Great! But it didn’t go well because while you were sharing the value of your solutions and focusing on your plan, you failed to pick up on cues, actively listen, or empathize. When you adapt your approach based on the client's mood and responses, that is the power of soft skills in action.


While AI can provide data, it can't provide the human touch. That's where your soft skills come into play. Using AI without soft skills is like having a fancy sports car but not knowing how to drive it. Sure, it looks good, but it won't get you far.


The Rise of EQ in Sales

Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage our emotions and the emotions of others. It's a buzzword for a reason. Consider this info from a study that was commissioned by Ernst & Young and conducted by Neil Rackham (author of Spin Selling):


As you can see by the graphic above 83% said their consultative salesperson was adequately candid. Sixty-six percent said they were adequately competent. But only 35% demonstrated adequate concern for the customer. (See related blog: Pick One, Candor, Competence, Concern) Studies also show that those with high EQ outperform their peers by a significant margin.



But here's great news: unlike IQ or personality, which are relatively fixed, EQ can be developed and strengthened. That's right; you can actually get better at this! (Butler Street's leadership and sales training can help)


Think about it. In a world where clients are bombarded with sales pitches left, right, and center, what sets you apart? It's not just the product you're selling or the AI tools you're using. It's how you make the client feel. It's your ability to understand their needs, to pick up on subtle cues, to navigate complex emotions. That's the magic of EQ.


While the world of sales is evolving with the advent of AI and other technologies, the importance of soft skills remains constant. In fact, as we rely more on technology, the human touch becomes even more crucial. Butler Street’s online learning program is designed for leaders, salespeople, recruiters, and account managers who want to improve their consultative selling skills - communicating their value to clients with the skills needed to advance the relationship and become a trusted advisor and partner.


Remember: it's not just about making the sale; it's about building relationships. If you have room for improvement and are looking for the right training partner, we can help. Connect with us, and let’s start a conversation.

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