Why Emotional Intelligence in Sales is the New High-Performance Differentiator

Why Emotional Intelligence in Sales is the New High-Performance Differentiator

Since the 1960s, emotional intelligence (EQ) has been recognized as a critical component of both personal and professional success. Yet many organizations focus primarily on building hard sales skills on their sales teams, while neglecting emotional intelligence skills.

Here’s why developing emotional intelligence in sales matters, and how it impacts sales performance.

What Is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?

Emotional intelligence, also referred to as Emotional Quotient, is the ability to be aware of one’s own emotions and the emotions of others, and to manage them in a productive and empathetic manner.

Daniel Goleman, the science journalist who introduced the idea of emotional intelligence in the 1960s, divided EQ skills into five categories:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-regulation
  3. Social skills
  4. Empathy
  5. Motivation

Together, these five emotional intelligence skills comprise the building blocks of a healthy, productive approach to life and work.

Why Is Emotional Intelligence Important in Sales?

Emotionally intelligent sales professionals perform better than their non-emotionally intelligent peers.

To understand why that is, let’s take a look at how the 5 types of EQ affect sales performance.

1. Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is the ability to identify and understand one’s own emotions and the impact they may have on your actions and on other people.

A self-aware salesperson is better able to manage their time and energy around their emotional states. They are less likely to anger or annoy a potential customer with their own negative emotions. And they bounce back from disappointment and rejection faster than sales reps who ignore or are unaware of their negative feelings.

2. Self-Regulation

Self-regulation, also referred to as impulse control, is the ability to control and adapt one’s own emotions to fit the situation or to avoid disrupting others.

A self-regulated salesperson is able to avoid bringing their negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, or irritation to sales conversations. They are better able to adapt their behavior to the needs of their job. And they’re capable of generating enthusiasm and motivation over the long term to fuel their job performance.

3. Social Skills

Social skills are the ability to have social awareness, make meaningful connections, build rapport, and maintain relationships over an extended period of time.

A sales professional with strong social skills will be successful at prospecting because they’re able to maintain a larger, stronger network from which to draw sales opportunities. They’ll be good at collaborating and cooperating with their peers. And they’ll know how to “read a room” and make adjustments to their own behavior to get the outcomes they desire.

4. Empathy

Empathy is the counterpoint to self-awareness. It’s the ability to identify and understand other people’s emotions, and the desire to respond to them productively.

An empathetic salesperson is good at judging how the customer or prospect is feeling, so that they can adapt their approach and steer conversations in the right direction. Empathy also helps the salesperson visualize the customer experience to better understand their needs, their goals, and their pain points so that they can address them in the most effective way.

Note: For a salesperson to be effective, their empathy levels shouldn’t be too low or too high. After assessing thousands of salespeople, we’ve found that too much empathy can cause a rep to be overly sensitive to the feelings of others, resulting in avoidance during the sales process.

For example, they may avoid:

  • Asking who else is involved in the decision-making process
  • Inquiring about budget
  • Asking for the business because they feel the other person may find it rude, pushy, or confrontational

5. Motivation

Motivation is the internally generated desire to complete a task or accomplish a goal.

Salespeople with strong motivation get more done in a day. They respond better to rejection, and seek out training and opportunities to improve their skills. They embrace new behaviors and activities that help them reach their goals. They listen to coaching and apply it to their work. And they pursue promising leads and follow up on opportunities more assertively than their peers.

The Selling to Different Personality Types training program teaches sales reps to understand their own behavior style and adapt their communication approach to match the preferences of their buyers. 

Learn more about the program in the video below

Selling to Different Personality Types


How to Develop EQ on Your Sales Team

Fortunately, emotional intelligence is a set of soft skills that can be taught and developed to improve your sales team’s performance.

Emotionally intelligent sales professionals are:

  • Aware of their own strengths and weaknesses
  • Resilient and able to bounce back from setbacks and losses
  • Capable of establishing and maintaining strong internal and external connections
  • Assertive in obtaining what they need to do their work
  • Eager to learn and apply new skills to improve their performance
  • Capable of generating their own internal motivation
  • Skilled at recognizing other’s behavior styles and adapting their own to match

Help Your Sales Reps Better Understand Themselves and Others

The Selling to Different Personality Types training program teaches participants to quickly identify a buyer’s behavior style using the DISC personality assessment.

Sales reps will dive deep into understanding their own default behavior style, and how they can adapt their communication approach to match the preference of the person they’re selling to.

Through the activity-filled program, participants will be put in the buyer’s seat and learn how to communicate most effectively through phone, email, and face-to-face situations. Learn how the program can benefit your team's sales performance by requesting an info packet below. 



Behavior Style Communication Guidelines

Understanding the behavior style of your team members and prospects is essential to better communication and sales effectiveness. Use this easy communication guide to learn the RIGHT and WRONG ways to interact with each behavior style.

This guide will show you:

  • The behavior tendencies and preferences for each of the 4 behavior styles in the DISC model
  • Ways you can improve communication with each style
  • Communication approaches that may potentially cause conflict with each style

Drea Douglass

Drea Douglass is the Director of Talent Management Consulting at The Brooks Group. She uses her experience in the sales training and assessment business to help organizations hire the best people for their open positions, develop their existing employees, and prepare for the future with succession planning. Drea is passionate about helping people understand each other and helping clients determine how to best move forward with their people.

Published on June 13, 2019

Keep up with the Latest in Sales Leadership, Selling Strategies, and Sales Hiring

The IMPACT Selling®

2-Day Public Sales
Training Seminar

North Carolina
September 10–11


for Sales Effectiveness

Sales Pro Central

Ready to maximize the performance of your sales team? A representative from The Brooks Group can help get you started.