Emotional Intelligence and Your Customers
By Joanne Bond
Emotional intelligence is "a set of emotional and social skills that influence the way we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges, and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way." (Stein & Book, 2006)
Emotional intelligence, or EQ, can elevate your communication skills for greater business success. Using empathy and understanding in interactions, entrepreneurs can form more authentic relationships with all their stakeholders. This is particularly beneficial when it comes to customers. Executive leadership coach Joanne Bond believes that while IQ can get your foot in the door, it’s EQ that keeps the door open. Here, in this second part of our three-part series on emotional intelligence, Joanne explains why emotional intelligence is so important for customer engagement.
Why EQ Matters for Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs are often individuals who have developed a passion or expertise about something. Whether an IT security specialist, a chef, an electrician, a jewelry designer, or a party planner, each entrepreneur knows his or her product or service like no one else. You could say the entrepreneur has a high IQ for his or her business offering. IQ has enabled the entrepreneur to develop the product or service and start a business.
However, once the entrepreneur takes the product or service to investors, partners, or customers, something else comes into the picture. Now relationships become a critical success factor, and EQ emerges as a driving communication skill. EQ is not always an area of expertise for entrepreneurs, who up to this point have been focused on facts and figures, but it can be acquired through practice.
How to Build EQ for Customer Development
People who do well in business really get to know their customers. They listen with openness and curiosity, and without judgement. They focus on the relationship first and build trust. How do they do this?
When thinking about your customers, keep in mind that it’s not about you, it’s about them. You want to prioritize understanding exactly what their “pain points” are (their needs, their wants, their goals). As an entrepreneur you will have a lot of conversations where people will say, “we want this” and “we want that,” and their needs and wants may not always make sense or align. In fact, they might be contradictory. In these situations, it’s best to ask questions, understand, listen, and don’t judge. Practice active listening to be open, curious, and present in your conversations.
The information you hear may help you understand how to tailor your product to the specific needs of your customer. It may also lead to developing new ways your product or service could be used by your customers. You might learn new features you could add to increase the value proposition. You might learn that there is no market for your product or service the way you have designed it, but you also might learn ways to adjust your approach to make it compelling.
Using emotional intelligence, you can engage with customers in productive ways while managing your emotions. This will allow you to receive the information they are sharing without the barriers of judgement. Then, you can focus on assuring the product or service you are developing addresses real pain points. Through open engagement you will also form long-term relationships with your customers. As a result, they may view you as a trusted advisor to think through their business needs, which will also benefit your business going forward.
EQ for Customer Engagement and Negotiations
As you move from the development phase to the engagement phase, you will need to make new decisions with regard to your customers. Sometimes when you are trying to get business you might say yes to more things than you should. You might say yes to a deal because you’re worried the customer will go to a competitor if you say no. You might think, “What if this is the last opportunity?”
Don’t fall into the trap of agreeing to any and every sale. You can’t be a solution for everyone, focus on your target market and be the right solution for those customers. By using EQ and self-managing through difficult negotiations, you can reason that you should only say yes if it’s beneficial. Have the confidence to walk away from a deal that is not beneficial for your business.
Acknowledge your fears and worry, recognize that entrepreneurship is scary and uncertain. At the same time recognize that you have chosen this path because you are passionate about your offering. Continue along your path as your best self, and make decisions for the greatest outcome, without giving in to emotional responses.
Emotional intelligence enables entrepreneurs to connect more authentically with their customers. By listening with empathy and understanding, and without judgement, entrepreneurs can learn exactly where their customers' pain points exist. They can evaluate whether their product or service truly meets the needs of their target market, and they can sell more effectively by establishing trusting, long-term relationships. With strong EQ, entrepreneurs can manage their emotional reactions when negotiating. They can make sound decisions based upon best outcomes rather than emotions for greater business success.
Up next, we will feature EQ and Your Well-Being as the last feature of this three-part series on the power of emotional intelligence for entrepreneurs from executive leadership coach Joanne Bond. Read the first part in this series: IQ and EQ - The Power of Emotional Intelligence.
About Joanne Bond:
Joanne’s mission is to coach you to become your next, best self by helping you gain the valuable insights you need to choose your most effective actions. Together, we focus on building emotional intelligence through: clear self-awareness; effective self-management, especially under stress; mutually satisfying relationships for championing your business; and fortifying your resiliency through the entrepreneurial journey. Using powerful tools and applying sound theory with a healthy dose of humor, Joanne creates an energizing and compelling coaching process. After all, it's all about YOU! For more information visit https://www.joannebondcoaching.com/ .