Applying Emotional Intelligence to B2B Communications

Alex Paretski, Senior Business Development Manager at EasyStaff, the international developer of IT-solutions for freelancers.

Emotional intelligence is just as important as business skills or knowledge. According to the agency Social, having a high EQ (Emotional Quotient) is valued four times more in business relationships than good old IQ. Self-aware individuals better understand their counterparts and are able to discover relevant pain points faster. Consequently, they create relevant and valuable proposals for the client. Alex Paretski, Senior Business Development Manager at EasyStaff, shares insights on the components of emotional intelligence and its importance for business.

It’s a misconception to think that emotional intelligence doesn’t have a place in the B2B segment. After all, all decisions are made by people, and the ability to present a product in a way that resonates with the client also depends on people. Having high emotional intelligence minimizes the risk of losing a client and receiving negative feedback. Let’s consider the components of that EQ.
 Components of EQ were introduced by Daniel Goleman - EasyStaff

What exactly is EQ made up of?

The term "emotional intelligence" (EQ) was first coined by American psychologists J. Mayer and P. Salovey. According to their definition, EQ is a type of social intelligence that concerns a person's ability to monitor their own and others' emotions. Later, the concept expanded, and Daniel Goleman entered the scene. He researched how beneficial emotional intelligence is to the business sector. Goleman defines EQ as the ability to read one's own and others' emotions and use them to achieve personal goals.

According to Goleman, the two following parts constitute EQ:

Self-awareness. If a person is aware of what they are feeling, they are able to spot the influence that emotions have on their decisions and behaviors.

Self-regulation. Simply put, this is the ability to think clearly and concisely during periods of strong emotional upheaval, such as anger or confusion.

Motivation. The word here stands for our personal drive to improve and achieve, commitment to our goals, initiative, or readiness to act on opportunities, as well as optimism, and resilience.

Empathy. It is one of the most important components of emotional intelligence. A manager can be considered empathetic if they can see the problem from the client's perspective. Specialists should also be able to acknowledge that a product or service is not working properly or is simply not suitable for the client. After all, it's not always about sales or deals - it's important to maintain good relationships and secure the best conditions for the client.

Social skills. Roughly speaking, this is the ability to build and maintain relationships and communicate effectively with people. Thanks to good social skills, managers are able to sense the values of other people and understand what is truly important to them.

EQ in the B2B Environment

In B2B sales, where decisions are made at the organizational level, developed emotional intelligence plays a significant role in closing successful deals. But what exactly does EQ influence?

Successful partnerships and mutual trust

High levels of trust are an integral part of the deal-making process in the B2B sphere. Of course, the quality of the product or service is paramount. However, a strong emotional connection with the client provides the opportunity to strengthen partnerships in the long term. Thus, EQ becomes a key tool for understanding the needs and motivations of the client, ultimately contributing to success.

Example. In any deal, the client pays the person they trust. Although contracts are made between two organizations, everything happens at the human level. The seller needs to properly hear the client, feel their pain points, and ask the right clarifying questions. The goal is to make clients feel like their problem can be solved. Emotional intelligence helps ask questions in the right tone and logically guide the client towards the story about past experience in similar cases.
Empathy is a valuable component of EQ, and one can develop empathy for better communication with people around them - EasyStaff

Conflict management and effective communication

Interactions with clients in the B2B sector are often accompanied by disagreements and conflicts that can affect the success of the deal. It is the level of emotional intelligence of the partners that helps resolve conflicts and establish effective communication, creating positive interaction. The ability to identify the emotional states of interlocutors and respond to them appropriately contributes to the creation of strong collaboration.

Example. In conflict situations, it is important that at least one of the participants has high EQ. Then they will be able to lead their opponents to a common goal (usually the goal is fixed in the project contract). A highly empathetic person will detach themselves from emotional factors and direct the conversation constructively, finding positive points in joint work. This will resolve the conflict and restore the workflow.

Team motivation and engagement

An employee, especially a team lead, with developed emotional intelligence is able to create a positive emotional environment in the team, motivate subordinates to achieve common goals, and increase work efficiency. Understanding emotional needs helps attract and retain talented professionals within the organization. It is a motivated and engaged team that can create a profitable and valuable offer for the client.

Example. One company had a leader with high performance indicators and developed hard skills. The problem was that he absolutely didn't feel the people in the team, which led to high turnover. Due to the constant change in team members, the work progressed slower than usual. If the leader had a deputy with developed EQ, the situation could have been completely different.
 Developing emotional intelligence is possible if you put effort and time into it.

How to Develop Emotional Intelligence

While emotional intelligence is partly innate, it can still be developed. Let's look at some simple rules that can help you develop your B2B business right now.

Avoid the "bunker mentality". This means that sharing emotions and thoughts should be the norm in your company or team. "Communication about communication" helps people better understand each other and regulate their own behavior. Sharing experience at work promotes openness and transparency within the team. As a result, employees communicate more openly and take others' feelings seriously without losing sight of their work goals. For example, despite the fact that many companies operate mostly remotely, it is important to regularly exchange feedback and collaboratively solve emerging mental difficulties.

There are three types of feedback: corrective, developmental, and supportive. It is best to use a balance of corrective and developmental feedback.

Corrective feedback is information or comments provided to correct errors, improve work, or change the approach to a task. 1. A manager pointing out flaws in an employee's work and offering specific recommendations for improvement. 2. A colleague sharing their observations on how a particular action or decision could be improved. 3. A client expressing comments or suggestions that will help the company improve and meet market demands.

Developmental feedback is information or comments aimed at developing the skills and potential of an employee or team. 1. A manager pointing out the advantages and strengths of an employee to encourage their growth and development. 2. An employee offering a colleague constructive advice and support to develop new skills or overcome difficulties.3. Training programs or workshops that provide an employee with tools and knowledge to expand their competencies.

Supportive feedback is information or comments aimed at supporting and reinforcing the positive aspects of work or behavior. For example:

  1. A manager expressing appreciation and gratitude for an employee's good work or achievements.
  2. An employee showing support to a colleague for their contribution to a project.
  3. A client giving positive feedback on a product or service that will help maintain the team's motivation.

Learn emotional self-regulation and empathy. This can be a starting point in developing emotional intelligence. Conducting special training and masterminds focused on awareness of your own emotions towards clients and colleagues helps managers better understand the needs of clients and convincingly argue proposals. It is also important to conduct training as openly as possible, listen to each participant, and take notes.

There is a vivid case study of how actively working with the empathy level of personnel directly impacted their performance. At the start, there was a group of key employees with very strong hard skills but a dip in soft skills. Developing EQ was necessary, as one of the basic tasks of the employees was communicating with clients, presenting projects, and managing the team.

Based on the interviews conducted, managers identified growth areas and created a 6-month training program. Since the employees' academic intelligence was very high, they mastered the theory quickly and spent most of their time training soft skills: personal effectiveness, communication management, team management, the ability to give feedback, etc. After six months, managers saw results: projects were delivered on time without significant disagreements with clients, and employees did not experience emotional burnout even during deadlines. An indirect result was also a significant increase in the eNPS (employee satisfaction level) within the company.

Develop feedback procedures. Creating feedback within the team will allow you to develop emotional intelligence through constant interaction and exchange of experience. This will also help the team better understand and consider the individual needs of each member, which will effectively impact their future interactions with clients. Feedback should be given regularly like at least once a month one-on-one with employees.
Feedback is how we learn about other people’s opinion and perception of us. Proper feedback is a crucial component in developing EQ - EasyStaff
Conduct team masterminds on developing communication skills. These events can include role-playing, partner exercises, and discussions of various scenarios of interaction with clients. This type of training allows managers to improve their skills in communicating with clients, listening, and hearing.

Management games can be helpful here. In these games, it's important to come up with a legend, provide it to the participants, and give them a set amount of time to prepare. The legend can be any conflict situation. It's important for both teams to choose an option that satisfies both sides and allows them to reach an agreement. Often during the game, participants start "getting carried away" and continue negotiations, going into negativity. The main goal is to develop the ability to adjust to the interlocutor, being sensitive and exhibiting balanced tact.

These games can be done in a simpler format without tying them to a complex product, for example:
• A conversation at a hotel reception desk
• A conflict at a hospital registration desk
• Buying a TV at a brick-and-mortar store
• Applying for a consumer loan at a bank
• And so on.

Incorporate Meditative and Reflective Practices. Introducing meditative and reflective practices into the work environment can promote emotional awareness and reduce stress. Regularly conducting short meditation or reflection sessions will allow managers to more effectively manage stressful situations and make informed decisions.

  • Mindfulness Meditation. This practice focuses on being consciously present in the current moment. Managers can use mindfulness to develop conscious emotions, allowing them to recognize and accept their feelings without judgment. This helps improve self-regulation and empathy towards oneself and others.

  • Meta-Meditation. A practice where the participant focuses on the emotions of others and tries to feel their own reactions to those emotions. This helps managers develop compassion and understanding of the emotions of their colleagues and subordinates, which in turn contributes to better team management.

  • Visualization Exercises. Managers can use visualization to imagine themselves in different situations and respond to them in an emotionally appropriate manner. This helps develop resilience and the ability to effectively manage stress.

  • Loving Kindness. This practice focuses on cultivating a feeling of compassion for oneself and others. Managers can use loving kindness to create more supportive relationships with employees, improve communication, and reduce conflict in the workplace.

  • Reflection and Contemplation. The practice of contemplation and reflection can help managers better understand themselves and their reactions to various situations. This promotes self-awareness, which is crucial for emotional intelligence.

  • Emotional intelligence plays a significant role in the work of B2B managers. Every deal is a decision. A successful B2B manager knows that a good relationship with a client is communication, hearing and listening as well as appreciation of someone else’s experience. Behind every product, there is always its representative, and clients base their final decision on their experience with the representative.

June 24, 2024
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