The Role of Emotional Intelligence in Sales Leadership
For some AEs, MEDDPICC is perceived as a micromanaging checklist and for some, even worse, as a rigid methodology inspiring terror. For others, MEDDPICC is a launching pad to their sales careers, supporting their continuous development, professionalism and excellence. What makes these perceptions so different?
To address these questions, let’s consider one of the best and most common uses of MEDDPICC: the deal review, as this is a prime example of how MEDDPICC and empathy must harmoniously coexist.
MEDDPICC deal reviews that lack empathy are deal reviews gone wrong. This lack of empathy results in a deal review that feels to the AE, like an interrogation. For the AE, this is an exercise in survival. Communication is not open, but is guarded and restricted. As a result, there is a lack of collaboration, creativity and fun. (Yes, deal reviews done right can be rewarding and fun!) While this kind of deal review might succeed at identifying the MEDDPICC gaps in the opportunity, it will most likely fail at identifying the specific challenges or the developmental opportunities that exist for the AE. Being subjected to this kind of interrogation would certainly lead to an AE having a very low opinion of MEDDPICC. What causes some sales leaders to not apply empathy in these situations? Is it a lack of emotional intelligence that can sometimes accompany power and ego? Is it forgetting what it was like to be an AE struggling to make their number? Is it the pressure that’s creating fear? This type of leadership lacks the empathy needed to coach, develop, and walk the talk as authentic leadership should.
Fear Prevents Potential
Fear is the worst enemy. Sellers and sales leaders can experience fear of not making the quarter, of the board pressure, and of financial deadlines. Responses to fear are most commonly, fight, flight, panic, over-reaction, or rash decisions. Fear does not prevent danger. For a leader to lead with empathy, they need to be able to breath, reflect, offer guidance, make well-informed choices, be measured, be bold, and, most importantly, have a plan.
Empathy implies openness, which implies a willingness to understand the details and nuances of the situation. These details and nuances are understood in the context of MEDDPICC and the disciplined plan of action. MEDDPICC paired with empathy yields disciplined leadership. As the situation and intelligence on the ground evolves, the plan must also evolve. Adaptability is essential in crafting and updating the plan. The product will not always be perfect. There will be moments with features lacking. Competitors may gain an edge. Or external forces such as an economic crisis can be thrown at you.
Keeping a cool head, gathering your team, staying empathetic and figuring out how to execute with discipline in times of chaos sets these leaders above the pack.
Disciplined leadership is not downloading or forwarding your own fears to others. These challenging situations are the moments to put in place an operating rhythm so that your agenda does not respond to fear of losing a deal, or not being in a customer meeting but focuses on executing your plan with clarity.
Your plan, created through your disciplined leadership, is what will save the quarter, reassure the board, and set yourself up against budget cuts.
Iron Grip in a Velvet Glove
Leading with empathy does not mean you are not running a tight ship. You are running deal reviews weekly, monitoring metrics, and gathering data so you can coach, guide, enable, and adjust your plan.
Your empathy is finding the positive building blocks, even in bad situations. Sellers know that their empathetic managers are there for them, to help them be their best and to succeed. As a result, the trust grows and sellers are more open and more willing to share their full perspective, concerns and fears. The seller’s honesty and vulnerability are rewarded with the support of the team and leadership. A united plan of action, based on the rigors of MEDDPICC, is developed with clear ownership and responsibility for the seller and also for those supporting teammates. What could have resulted in fear, toxicity, demotivation and loss of talent has been positively converted into shared, motivated teamwork and a willingness to learn from mistakes and a desire to elevate performance.
Empathy and MEDDPICC are perfect partners in sales and sales leadership. Empathy is the humanness that fosters honesty, curiosity, the desire to understand and ultimately the desire to help. Empathetic leaders don’t have to have all the answers. They have to care, they have to lead and they have to bring their experience to solve the challenges and problems of the day. MEDDPICC is the proven framework that defines the essence of successful enterprise sales. It’s the cold-hard truth that, when used honestly, transparently reveals the gaps and risks in your opportunities. When combined, this powerful combination brings together the rigor and discipline of what’s needed to win, with the understanding and collaboration needed to develop a united plan to close those gaps.