Whether you are a Sales Development Representative, Business Development Manager, or an Account Executive – your job is to SELL. Find new business, prospect heavily, and whatever you do, keep the grind. This “smile and dial” mentality gets tricky with COVID-19 in the picture.

While in-person lunches turned into virtual coffee meetings, and streets outside your home became still, my team still had expectations of themselves. The headline of prospecting messages and emails have gone from “Hope you are having a great week!” to “Hope you are staying safe and healthy during these unprecedented times.” Because of the uncertainty of coronavirus, these messages were not always taken well. This job became brutal at times. Still, adjustments to your tone are absolutely needed.

What is Emotional Intelligence in Sales?

Emotional intelligence (EQ) has been recognized as a critical component of both personal and professional success. This year in sales has taught me that the grind should continue, and the motivation cannot stop – but emotionally connecting with those who are sick, who are home caring for a loved one, who have experienced a death of a close friend or relative, could use some empathy from a stranger like me. Psychologist and award-winning author Daniel Goleman explains the importance of paying attention to emotions in his book Emotional Intelligence. “If you are tuned out of your own emotions, you will be poor at reading them in other people.” Reading people is one of the biggest keys to being successful in sales, but it starts from within.

Emotional Intelligence Within Your Own Team

After experiencing a similar lack of motivation amongst the team a few months ago, I realized that emotional intelligence internally within your team is as important, if not more important than externally. Some team members won’t get to be with their families during the holidays, and maybe some team members are not hitting targets this quarter – but having a team that plays as a support system is crucial. A colleague and I came up with a virtual Secret Santa gift exchange and a Microsoft Teams happy hour including an expensed meal from a local restaurant of your choice. In hopes that this event would lighten the holiday spirit, allow for some socializing, and remind the team of the bonding events we used to partake in pre-COVID – it was a success.

Here are some sales tips to keep in mind during COVID:

State the obvious to your prospect. Yes, we are in a pandemic. Yes, many companies are hurting during this time, and individuals may be directly impacted by the virus. A message that includes verbiage around the current environment we are living in proves self-awareness of EQ.

1. Stay positive. Everyone could use some silver lining!

2. Help elevate your teams’ motivation. If you see morale is low, let your manager know! We must look after each other (virtually) as best we can. If you are a manager, make sure you are frequently checking in on your employees to improve how you lead and manage during COVID.

3. Perhaps we should avoid physical distance, not social distance. Essentially, our social encounters are virtual, and frankly, all of us haven’t had enough social interaction in almost a year.

4. Know that this is temporary. “We have to do this now, but we don’t have to do this forever.” Give yourself some grace and keep the big picture in mind!

As 2020 wraps up, I am feeling grateful that I work at a company that values its employees, especially during this time. May next year bring us all hope, success, and health!

Susie Babadzhanov is an Account Executive at Affirma.

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