Why Emotional Intelligence Matters in Sales

Emotional intelligence, or EQ (short for emotional quotient), has been a buzzword in the business world, and more specifically in sales, for several years. By definition, EQ describes the ability to recognize and regulate emotions within yourself and to recognize and respond to the emotions of others. Practically speaking, with a high EQ, sales professionals can recognize how our emotions and the emotions of others impact the actions that we take during the sales process. We can use knowledge of emotions to influence how others behave. In short, EQ has had an enormous impact on the sales culture.

What the Research Shows

  • EQ is linked to sales outcomes. Various research studies have shown the difference that EQ has on sales outcomes. A Baylor University research study revealed that Coca-Cola trained sales leaders in emotional intelligence and discovered that these individuals exceeded their performance targets by 15% while leaders who did not develop emotional capabilities missed their targets by the same margin. Another company, Hallmark Communities, revealed that sales associates who acquired higher levels of EQ were 25% more productive than their colleagues with lower EQ.
  • Customer satisfaction and repeat business are directly linked to the emotional connection that a customer can feel with a salesperson. A seller with high EQ has the ability to quickly recognize customer needs. What’s more, customers who like their salesperson are twelve times more likely to continue to purchase, according to Gallup research.

In the Real World
We also want you to think about EQ in terms of the real world. Wouldn’t you rather do business with a sales person who is pleasant, friendly, and has strong social skills that make you feel comfortable? You can see these qualities in many business and political leaders who may not necessarily possess all the technical knowledge and expertise to get the job done, but they can socialize and network in ways that benefit their personal and professional lives as well as those they interact with.

What Does Success Look Like?
Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, once said to a group of graduate students: “Your IQ’s are all high enough for you to be very successful, but where people often fall short is on the EQ. It’s something you develop over time. A lot of management skills are EQ, because management is all about how people function.”

Daniel Goleman, who wrote several books on EQ, breaks this form of intelligence into five critical areas, and how they apply to sales professionals:

  1. Self-awareness, which is relevant to sales professionals because they need to be self-aware of their strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Self-regulation, which is relevant to sales professionals because they must be able to control their emotions and exercise restraint when needed.
  3. Motivation, which is relevant to sales professionals because they must be motivated by factors other than money, and show resilience and optimism when they encounter disappointment.
  4. Empathy, which is relevant to sales professionals because they must understand the customer’s point of view and frustrations in order to connect on an emotional level.
  5. People skills, which is relevant to sales professionals because they need to build rapport and trust with their customers as well as internally to foster team work.

There’s no denying that sales professionals face many challenges on a daily basis. We deal with tough prospects and customers, and we’re constantly exposed to stress, we’re putting out fires, and we’re faced with incredibly tight deadlines. These working conditions might never change, but what we can control is how we react to these conditions and how we go about improving our EQ – something we’ll discuss in next week’s post.