Use Emotional Intelligence to Identify Sales Team Motivators

Legendary football coach Lou Holtz once said that ability is what you’re capable of doing, motivation determines what you do, and attitude determines how well you do it. It’s a profound statement that goes beyond the sports world to sales.

Your sales team has the ability to follow what we call The Connection Process to leverage your connections to create sustainable revenue. They can identify smart clients to pursue, they can develop authentic connection with these clients, they can develop multiple paths of connection, and they can help your firm be leveraged for value and impact. The question is whether they will follow these proven steps.

The want-to ties to whether they are motivated to perform up to their abilities and whether they have the right attitude to follow each of the steps in the process that drives toward winning accounts and grabbing larger pieces of project scope.

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the key to unlock sales team motivation that can help you determine whether your team will push forward pursuing authentic connection with clients, or if they will eventually revert to the old, unproductive ways of engaging clients.

Where to Start with Using EI to Unlock Sales Team Motivation

Every sales person is different. Even similar personalities may have completely different motivators that dictate their attitude.

Imagine you have two hard-charging, ready-to-win-the-day type of sales people on your team. On the surface, they appear to have similar motivators. But, assessing their emotional intelligence will help you dig deeper to unlock their actual motivators that will help you determine how to better manage these individuals, leading to better outcomes when engaging with clients.

Through this exercise, you may uncover that one salesperson is primarily motivated by making money. They have big dreams about cars, trips, vacations, and a bigger house. Conversely, the other hard-charging salesperson is primarily motivated by wanting to help clients. The big bucks, the cars, the boats, etc. aren’t as important as feeling that rush of finding the hidden problems behind the problem in your client’s organization, crafting a solution, and ultimately helping the client address the bigger problem they are facing.

These individuals have completely different primary motivators. It’s your job to unlock these motivators and then manage them accordingly to achieve the result you’re looking for.

To start with, use a tool such as an EI assessment or other assessment that measures thinking to uncover their motivators. Personality assessments only provide you with a surface-level assessment. You need a tool that digs deeper into how someone is wired to uncover their attitudes, behavior, and thinking. This is your baseline starting point.

What to To Do With the EI Assessment of Your Sales Team

What often happens is managers ask their sales team to complete an EI assessment, managers receive the results, they review the results, and they don’t know what to do with the findings. Now what? How do I apply this to how I manage my team?

Start by setting aside your preconceived notions about each salesperson. Take a blank-slate approach. This is a brand-new person that has just joined your company and you need to determine the best approach to manage this individual.

What clues do you see in the assessment? What patterns do you recognize? Where is their consistency in their thinking? Where is there some gray area? Unlock these clues to help you better understand this individual.

You could end up with the exact same understanding of the individual as before the assessment. That’s perfectly fine to confirm what you already knew. But, you will also be surprised by the motivators for other salespeople. This should then lead to a different approach in how to manage the individual.

– Let’s go back to the hard-charging salesperson who is primarily motivated by income growth. This individual will likely attempt to revert to the old ways of completing sales with target clients. Let me take a prospect to the golf course or book a dinner meeting to close the sale in a few hours. In other words, what’s the fastest, quickest, easiest way to convert a sale to grow my income?

Your job as a manager is to provide coaching to this individual on how to remain committed to the process of building authentic connection with clients, not viewing each client as a cash register. You need to help this individual see the bigger picture of why this proven methodology will pay off in the long run.

Yes, the methodology requires more time, effort, and energy in the beginning, but identifying the right clients to pursue, building authentic connection with these individuals, uncovering clues about hidden problems, and then crafting the appropriate solution will lead to your firm winning more accounts and larger pieces of project scope that will build over time. The long-term positive benefit is revenue growth for the company and more income for the salesperson.

This requires a consistent, deliberate approach to manage the individual. It also requires accountability to ensure that the salesperson continues to identify smart clients to pursue — not the easy clients to pursue — and then follows through by sticking to the process.

Don’t Sit and Forget The EI Assessment

The EI assessment of your sales team is not a one-and-done exercise. You should continually review the EI assessment of each salesperson and remain committed to managing them based on their motivators.

Certainly, this requires time and effort on your part. I’ll help you out. Here are some red flags or common signs that you should look out for that will help you identify when it’s time to review the EI of each salesperson and provide coaching to correct issues.

  • Your sales team is pursuing clients that do not understand the impact your firm will have on their business.
  • Your sales team is not actively identifying the business and political issues in your target client’s organization or industry.
  • Your sales team is not talking to multiple individuals in the client organization or industry to uncover hidden problems.
  • Your sales team is trying to solve the wrong problem.
  • Your sales team does not understand the larger problem the client is facing.
  • Your sales team is trying to win work based on price, rather than being leveraged for value and impact.

If you see a pattern of red flags, then go back to the EI assessment. Review each salesperson’s assessment to better understand their attitudes, behaviors, and thinking. Identify the key motivators. Look for gaps, then talk to each salesperson individually about what’s happening and why they’re not following the process. Then, use their feedback to provide coaching to help close gaps and get them back on the right path to pursue authentic connection with clients.

We can help. Our team can provide coaching to you to better manage your sales team according to their motivators. We can also provide coaching to your sales team on how to follow The Connection Process and explain why the methodology works to win more accounts.

Give us a call today to schedule a coaching consultation team with our team. Or, complete our contact form to let us know how we can support your firm’s pursuit of clients. Together, we can grow revenue in a more intelligent and sustainable way that your sales team will appreciate.



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