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Sales EQ

How Ultra High Performers Leverage Sales-Specific Emotional Intelligence to Close the Complex Deal

By Jeb Blount
  • Read in 13 minutes
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  • Contains 8 key ideas
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Sales EQ by Jeb Blount

Sales EQ (2017) explores how sales professionals can leverage the power of human emotion to boost their performance. It outlines the feelings that potential buyers experience and explains how sellers can learn to keep their own emotions in check during the sales process. 

Key idea 1 of 8

The best salespeople think creatively to disrupt role expectations and score the deal.

Art was a young salesman in a tough spot. He was trying to sell his company’s truck leasing services to an artisanal baker. But the baker balked at the price, which he claimed to be much higher than that of his competitors. Art didn’t know how to move forward. 

Frustrated, Art invited his sales mentor Joe to their next meeting. To Art’s surprise, they sealed the deal – all thanks to a brown paper bag. 

How did a humble paper bag save the day? Let’s start by looking at the baker’s – the buyer’s – behavior. By arguing that Art’s prices were too high, the baker was engaging in typical buyer behavior. But instead of responding along the same lines, Joe flipped the script toward success. 

The key message here is: The best salespeople think creatively to disrupt role expectations and score the deal. 

After listening to the baker’s arguments about Art’s prices, Joe took out a brown paper bag containing two loaves of bread. One was a 60-cent loaf from the local supermarket, and the other was the baker’s own, much more expensive, artisanal loaf. By displaying the bread, Joe immediately disrupted the baker’s expectations of how a salesperson should behave. And with this disruption, Joe gained the baker’s full attention. 

Then Joe asked the baker what made his bread worth three times as much as the supermarket loaf. The baker launched into a passionate ten-minute sermon about why the superior taste and ingredients of his loaf were worth the price. 

Why did Joe ask him this simple question? 

Well, when we talk about ourselves, we experience a rush of dopamine, which makes us feel good about ourselves. So, by getting the baker to talk about his bread, Joe activated a pleasant surge of dopamine in the baker’s brain. Subconsciously, the baker then wanted to reciprocate by making Joe feel good about himself, too. 

When the baker finished talking, Joe explained that they’d been trying to tell him the same thing about Art’s truck leasing company. It was also more expensive than the competition because it was higher quality. In fact, they were the artisanal bread of truck companies! 

In making this comparison, Joe was using the baker’s language and logic. And by speaking the same language as his buyer, he made the baker feel understood – and gained his trust in the process. 

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