TALKING SALES 192: "Emotion vs Logic in B2B Sales"

John Smibert

EQ vs IQ 01 - Heart vs Brain             "Sell to the heart, justify to the head"  - A discussion between Cian McLoughlin and  John Smibert.

In my most recent discussion with Cian McLoughlin3Customer behaviour guru, Cian McLoughlin, told us why EQ is more important than IQ in sales because "customers buy with their hearts".

So if a customer's buying is more influenced by emotion than logic why do so many of us still try to sell with our head not our heart - why do we still try to influence by primarily using logic?

In this discussion Cian explains that our EQ determines how effectively we can sell with our heart.  He emphasises that we need to improve our EQ to sell more effectively.  And the good news from Cian is that, unlike IQ, our EQ can be improved through training, practice and coaching. In this discussion he talks about how.

Are you selling to the customer's heart and the gut - or are you doing all of your selling to the head? Are you applying EQ versus IQ in the way you sell? If not view or read the full interview below to learn more.


Cian McLoughlin is a guru in win/loss analysis, he's a speaker, an author, and a leading adviser to the sales fraternity.

See more of the 'TALKING SALES' series here


John: Welcome back Strategic Selling Group members and all those B2B salespeople out there, sales leaders and so on! You're here with the Talking Sales series, and I have Cian McLoughlin with me.

Cian: Hi, John - nice to be here!

John: Great to have you back, Cian. Last time we had a discussion, and you talked about EQ versus IQ in sales. I think that's a great subject; I'd like to explore it a bit more and get more insight from you on what it really means to salespeople.

EQ vs IQ 05 - zig ziglerCian: Sure. There's a lovely quote from Zig Ziglar that some people may have heard before, which is that;

"Logic makes people think and emotion makes people act".

I think that's really, really true and I see it borne out every day in the conversations I have with key decision makers. When I ask them why they made decisions, it's not just cut-and-dry, black-and-white criteria; a lot of it relates to things in relation to emotion, "We liked them, we trusted them, they understood us and they took the time to listen. We felt a strong cultural fit, we felt a strong affinity," and it struck me that so many of these things are on the EQ side as distinct from on the IQ side.

John: And as salespeople I guess we need to really think about that, what does it mean from an EQ point of view? It really comes down to our own behaviour, doesn't it?

Cian: It does, and I must admit it's not something I really thought about in my own sales career. If I go back to the 10-15 years that I spent carrying a quota or managing a sales team, I never consciously thought about the importance of EQ. But it relates to things like how curious you are, it relates to things like how good of a listener you are, your ability to be a good judge of character, to handle people who are maybe a little bit harder to get on with, how you display empathy; all of these things which are soft skills and therefore easy to dismiss, but incredibly important in terms of actually conducting certainly B2B sales.

John: Based on the last discussion we had plus this one, it's absolutely vital. You're very unlikely to be successful if you have a high intelligence but you have no ability to really have empathy with the people you're talking to and manage your own behaviour accordingly.

Cian: Correct. It's almost a sales cliché to say that people do business with people  they know, like and trust - but it's been borne out again and again, and I think some of the stats are really interesting. There's some work that's been done by Dr Travis Bradberry, and he talks about the fact that 90% of top performers are high in EQ; for every point of EQ you go up leads to $1,000 increase in your likely earnings. Almost all of the top leaders are high in EQ. Not all, but the vast majority.

EQ vs IQ 06 - Travis BradberryJohn: Let me address the question; "What do we as salespeople and sales leaders do about this?" Because a question I get often is; "If somebody at this point in time hasn't got a high level of EQ, should they not be in sales?"

Cian: Well, I think it's the "old dog, new trick" question and I think it's a really interesting one, because IQ tends to be fixed and, as far as I know, it's impossible to fundamentally EQ vs IQ 04 - Puppy 700x500change your IQ. But EQ is different, EQ is actually something that you absolutely can work on, and the plasticity of the brain allows us to learn new behaviours and then start to build those into habits, to focus on things like our ability to embrace change, to focus on things like our ability to be better listeners, to use our two ears and one mouth in that ratio, to focus on things like how we do our research and how we then use that to have better conversations with people. That's eminently learnable stuff, and so if you decide that "My EQ is not at a particularly high level and I'm just going to dismiss that," then I think a) you're missing a huge opportunity, and b) you may well be putting yourself in an awkward position over the next couple of years of your career.

John: So as a salesperson if I really recognise I need to improve my EQ, there's things I can do out there.

Cian: The first thing I'd do would be just Google it and then I'd start to read and I'd start to research and I'd start to understand it, and then maybe I would ask some people who are in my peer group or maybe even some customers...

John: Or a mentor.

Cian: Exactly, to just give me some feedback. "Why do you think I do well? Where have I got some gaps? What could I work on?" I would also look at other people around me who I think are strong in that area, and then try and understand what it is they're doing well and then again try and mirror or emulate that.

John: And for the sales leaders out there, if they've got people with moderate levels of EQ, what should they be doing?

Cian: Look, it's eminently coachable, but I think it's about really taking the time to sit down and help them understand why. Because I'm not going to really focus on changing a skillset or behaviour unless I understand the knock-on effect of that, and if the knock-on effect of that is you can build deeper and more meaningful relationships with your customers, you can shorten sales cycles, you can grow deal value, so if you do all of that, then yes, absolutely, I'll take the time.

John: Okay, so the bottom line message I guess is we really need to think about EQ, what it means to us and so on. We need to then focus on understanding what our own EQ is, or as a sales leader, sales manager, understanding the EQ of all the members of their team, and working on coaching and developing an improvement of that EQ you'll have resounding results in the sales they make.

Cian: You will, and your customers will love you for it as well.

EQ vs IQ 02 - Heart and Brain togetherJohn: [laughs] Thank you very much. Hey, look at your EQ, think about it! It's really important for your success in your career, and as a sales leader you can change your team and the performance your team is getting by really focusing on coaching better EQ in the group.

Cian, thank you very much for time - I look forward to getting together very soon!

Cian: Pleasure, John, look forward to it - thank you!


More interviews with Cian McLoughlin:



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