PACE yourself – building a compelling and actionable business case for emotional intelligence assessments like the EQ-i

Article by Geetu Bharwaney, BSc, MScIn the early days of offering emotional intelligence assessments, my colleagues and I at Ei World used to promote the EQ-i as a ‘great tool’ with our favourite selling point – it helped realize self-awareness for a wide range of people in organizations. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this strategy, it proved not to be a particularly effective one. Over time, our strategy has changed in a subtle way to one that is more focused on the client’s needs and outcomes. We summarise this strategy with the acronym PACE.

Positioning
Application
Conviction
Execution

Each of these components of this strategy is explained below with their specific reference to the EQ-i in an organizational setting.  The result has been a marketing strategy which has served us well in effective promotion of the EQ-i to a wide range of clients.

P is for Positioning. This means that in preparing your clients to buy the tool, the tool needs to be positioned appropriately so that it is clear as to what the tool is designed to do. The key question to ask and answer is:

‘What does the EQ-i enable people to do, that they unable to do without it?’

The answer to this question helps to address the context of the assessment which we find to be critically important in today’s economically-challenged times.

In particular, we have found that the term ‘self-awareness’ is no longer adequate to make the case for using the EQ-i. More powerful are terms like ‘organizational well being’, ‘leadership effectiveness’ and ‘business performance’ which help to identify areas where return on investment can be found. Ideally, emotional intelligence assessments are positioned in line with where there is the most pain in a particular organizational context.

Now, we have found it useful to position the EQ-i as a tool which helps to transform stress into business effectiveness and well-being for the organization. The result of this clear positioning is that we have sold many more EQ-i’s in the same period compared to the previous financial period and have more large-scale projects in the pipeline.

The key to successful positioning is to have the back-up of research data and testimonials from recent projects that support this key positioning. Typically the research data is taken from existing organizational metrics (for example, engagement survey results, performance appraisal data or health metrics) and will vary from organization to organization.

A is for Application. This refers specifically to how the EQ-i is going to be applied in the organizational context. In other words, which implementation method will be used to introduce the EQ-i (i.e. as a one-to-one tool for a ‘one-time’ assessment, a one-to-one tool as part of a coaching project, a group tool for delivery of feedback to a whole group, or a research project)? Being clear about this in your marketing helps clients see various possibilities for using the EQ-i. The key question to address is:

‘How specifically will the EQ-i be used in this particular context in order to reach the best outcomes for the specific target population being discussed here?’

For example, a recent client reported the need for their leaders to be helped at a time of great organizational change. Whilst it appeared that one-to-one EQ-i assessments and confidential debrief sessions might help the leaders, the real issues were being felt by the team members that these leaders were leading. Therefore, we built a business case for all team members to participate in assessments. The leaders would have sight of their group EQ data as well as their own EQ-i profile during a two-day learning event.  This was a more effective strategy than providing confidential one-to-one sessions. This strategy helped to bring a focus on personal effectiveness both for the team leader and for their whole teams; plus, it involved providing many more EQ-i assessments. Thus, it helped to embed the EQ-i into this organization’s organizational development processes. Having the flexibility of offering the EQ-i in multiple ways was a great strength to the project.

The key to being specific about the application is to explore all possible applications (some are listed above) in relation to the stated organizational need and to identify the one(s) which are the most suitable in reaching the desired outcomes.

C is for Conviction. This refers to the process of explaining the EQ-i and being confident in your conviction about the power of the tool. We have used terms like ‘razor-sharp insight’ and ‘breakthroughs in leadership behavior’ to explain how the EQ-i adds value. It is important to create language that you can be confident about, in your verbal explanations. The key question to ask here is:

‘What are the most important benefits of using the EQ-i in 4 words maximum?’

 You might wish to start with reviewing past clients and articulate the stated benefits from clients. Use this language in your marketing materials to help make the case for the EQ-i.

E is for Execution. This refers to the actual task of gaining a client and working with them. Most client projects start with someone who is initially interested in the tool. The key question to ask and answer here is:

‘What is the optimal starting point for exploring the power of the tool in this context?’

We used to go right ahead and provide a trial assessment when asked (this is a usual starting point for people expressing interest in the tool) though we have found that a trial of the EQ-i and a confidential debrief may or may not lead to further assessments as it is subject to the impact of the EI strengths and development areas of the respondent’s EQ-i. For example, a client with very low Impulse Control may have moved onto the next thing before fully following through with the trial assessment or a client with Low Reality Testing may not fully realise the implications and subtleties of the implementation of the EQ-i.

A more powerful technique would identify the right volunteer and the starting point for a possible project. Sometimes it is a trial assessment but not necessarily with the person who is commissioning the work – ideally it is conducted with a ‘real’ client or a small group of real clients. This will provide more accurate experience of using the tool.

Ideally the execution of the early stages of EQ-i usage is mapped out, so that the use of the EQ-i can be trialled and refined based on the ‘teething’ stages of a new project.

With a focus on Positioning, Application, Conviction and Execution, we believe that it is possible to be highly successful in using the EQ-i.  The combined effect of focusing on these four aspects of marketing the EQ-i is a compelling and actionable business case for the EQ-i.

About Geetu, Founding Director of Ei World Limited

Geetu leads projects involving leadership development, emotional intelligence and coaching in a cross cultural context in both the corporate and educational worlds. In the last year, she has focused on interventions based on emotional intelligence for technical experts. A key passion is to equip people to develop the skills and capabilities of working with emotional intelligence in their own arenas of work.

Geetu’s present work involves measuring EI, researching the characteristics of ‘star’ leadership performance, and providing focused and targeted EI development.

Geetu Bharwaney is a qualified trainer of the EQ-i and EQ-360 and regularly conducts public programmes to equip new users of the EQ-i at Ei World – a long-standing provider of emotional intelligence assessments in organizational settings.  She can be contacted by email gbharwaney@eiworld.org or by phone +44-1525-840090.

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