The Emotional Bank Account in sales

I've been in sales for awhile but I'm constantly searching for more resources and information to help me be better at my job.

I remember when I first began selling, my idea of being a sales professional was sending a cold email to every person in my prospect list. I look back on those days and cringe. So embarrassing. Those are the moments you wish you could revisit and redo, am I right?! I first learned about The Emotional Bank Account in Stephen Covey's book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" and wanted to share it with all of you. In truth, it's common sense, really. However, I think that as we get into our day-to-day, we forget what sales is really about. Sales is providing your client with a solution to a problem.

Sales is providing your client with a solution to a problem.

It's really hard to know what problems our customers are facing if we are constantly trying to sell them on products and features of what we are selling. This is where the idea of creating an emotional bank account can come into play.

What is an emotional bank account?

You fill the emotional bank account first before asking anything of your prospective customer. You put something in the bank before you take anything out. Because you can't withdraw from an empty account. Think about it....can you go to the bank and ask for a loan if you haven't proven yourself reliable through good credit, a previous relationship with the bank, or so forth?

In sales, we want to send emails and cold call prospective customers to tell them how XYZ is going to make their lives better, how it is going to solve all their problems, and how it will magically make everything work in their favor. The problem, however, is that we've never actually talked to the prospective customer before. So how can we decide what is best for them? We are taking a shot in the dark hoping that one of our product features or solutions is going to resonate with them.

The best approach is to begin to understand your customer. Truly have an idea of what they need, what their day-to-day looks like, and how you can serve them. You have to make deposits and gain their trust before you can withdraw, or in this case, get to the point where they agree to do business with you.

There are several things you can do to fill the emotional bank account with your prospective customers.

Understand the prospective customer. What are the values that drives your customer's decisions? What is important to them? How do they react to particular things? What are their short-term and long-term goals? What do the see as being most important in their work? You absolutely cannot understand others and build the trust necessary to do business if you don't take the time to get to know your potential customer. I've tried it and I'm telling you, learn from my mistakes! Do not regurgitate features and functions all over someone that doesn't even know who you are. When you can do this, you've invested in the bank account.

Provide Meaningful Resources. Okay, Becky, but you just told me not to spam people about my products and services? Right. I don't want you spamming. But once you have had a conversation with someone and you know what drives them, inspires them, or frustrates them, you can send resources that help them.

Let me explain. Let's say you are an educational sales provider for K-6 curriculum that focuses specifically on providing Language Arts programs that thrive in distance learning environment. The teachers that you are working with are interested in your program but they aren't fully convinced yet that it is the solution that will benefit them. How do you provide meaningful resources? I make sure that I know what is important to that teacher. Is it outcomes, data, the teacher dashboard, the student experience, etc. Once I have an understanding of what is important, I can curate resources around those things. A teacher is worried about how students obtain Language Arts skills through an online program. I share with her data and results that show how much growth students get from using my program. I also share related articles and timely information that might not be company specific, but I know that it is important to my teacher I am working with and it is going to help her look to me as a trusted advisor. Meaningful resources are not spam. They are carefully curated pieces that show your prospective customer that you hear them and you are in their corner to help them find a solution.

Meaningful resources are not spam. They are carefully curated pieces that show your prospective customer that you hear them and you are in their corner to help them find a solution.

Always be ethical. Sales is hard enough as it is, you don't need to add in little white lies to try to close business. The problem with salespeople who overpromise is that it catches up with you. You create a horrible experience for the prospective or current customer and it really does impact the ability to do business with one another. If you want to make an emotional bank account deposit, you're going to have to be honest and sometimes that means having the tough conversations. I once heard that direct and firm communication doesn't mean that you are not kind. That was an area where I struggled for a long time. I was raised to be nice, I was raised to be respectful and I had those same traits in business. Nice and respect are great, but I think truth is more important in business. Be realistic, be honest, set expectations but don't conduct business in a manner that is unethical just to close a deal. It'll pay huge dividends in the emotional bank account and reflect your business practices for longer than you think.

These are just a few of the top things I try to pay attention to when building relationships with prospective customers. You have to build the trust and put deposits into the relationship in order to get to that point where they find you a valuable resource or someone worth doing business with.

I'd encourage you, if you are someone who is interested in sales, or just being a more empathetic and understanding leader, in general, to read this book:

I think that it is one that can help us no matter the work we do and the relationships we have.

I hope to include more blog posts like this in the future. If you found it helpful, please email me at I'd love to hear from you and get your honest feedback. I'm still learning when it comes to blogging and the best way to grow and be better is to hear the truth from you!


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