As a profession, sales is based on developing effective communication skills. This applies both as being a ‘sender’ as well as being a ‘receiver’ of information. And the need for advanced communication skills isn’t only for sellers dealing with clients.
Sales leaders are often in situations where they communicate information to groups of people. As the sender, they need to be able to recognise the ‘mood’ of the group and judge their immediate reaction to the information being presented.
This type of group communication situation could be:
- Presenting to a group of clients or prospects
- Presenting to their own management group
- Delivering news to their sales team
Emotion Recognition Ability
For some years researchers have been studying the existence and effect of Emotion Recognition Ability (ERA). The research looks at the extent to which people have this ability, and also whether this ability is related to having a certain personality style/trait.
In this article from INSEAD Business School, Associate Professor Quy Huy points out:
Those with the skill to pick up on the subtle emotional cues of the collective can adapt accordingly and, according to our research, earn more respect as a result.
Prior research has found that individuals typically focus either on the trees or the forest, but rarely both when facing the same target. This means that some managers are simply better (or more naturally disposed) to reading the individual or the collective emotions, but not both.
We examined whether an individual’s ability to recognise collective emotions had a bearing on how their “transformational” leadership ability was perceived. Using a global sample of high-ranking managers, we contacted their direct reports and requested online evaluations of their manager’s leadership performance. We found that their performance on the EAM (Emotional Aperture Measure – developed by Huy and colleagues) was significantly correlated with what was considered transformational leadership behaviour by their direct reports.
A similar field is that of recognising micro-expressions. Over recent years there has been a lot written about micro-expressions and how you can increase your awareness of them to be better at ‘reading’ what others are really thinking or feeling.
Whilst it is a handy skill to be able to recognise micro-expressions, in reality it takes a tremendous amount of practice to be able to recognise and correctly interpret micro-expressions.
However the concept of ERA isn’t about recognising micro-expressions but rather recognising facial (non-verbal) feedback from a group of people on a collective basis. The expressions being recognised are not micro-expressions. The challenge is to be able to read the group feedback simultaneously, in a fraction of a second.
There is no training required for ERA. In fact you can take the Emotional Aperture Measure assessment for free and get immediate feedback on your own blind emotional recognition spots.
Opportunities for sales leaders
Sales leaders often speak or present to groups, including their own team of sales people, technical or professional staff on topics such as:
- Explaining new sales targets
- Change in business direction
- Feedback on group performance
- Presenting sales proposals to clients
- Presenting reports at management meetings
In all these scenario’s developing a greater awareness of collective emotions will be extremely helpful to achieve the overall objective for that communication.
The research shows having a strong ability to recognise collective emotions will enhance the performance of a leader.
As a sales leader this is yet another dimension of professional communication skills to develop.
Image credit: Ivana Vasilj