Soft Skills Earn Hard Cash: Sales Performance and Emotional Intelligence

SoftSkillsBlogThe emotionally intelligent person is someone who’s empathetic, assertive, self-motivated, adaptive, and optimistic (Petrides & Furnham, 2001). Sound familiar? This description reads like a laundry list of the requirements for a successful salesperson.

The concept of emotional intelligence was popularized in the 1990s by Daniel Goleman’s seminal book, “Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ”. More recently, these teddy bear traits have been endorsed by sales leaders such as Jill Konrath as an advantage for sales performance. Today, sales professionals are racing to learn how to identify, hire for and develop emotional intelligence to edge out their rivals.

But is there a competitive advantage to be found? Let’s look at what the research tells us.

Research has shown salespeople higher in self-awareness and emotional control achieved more of their sales objectives (Rozell, Pettijohn, & Parker, 2006). Furthermore, a study conducted by Jennings and Palmer (2007) found that sales reps who completed an emotional intelligence training and development program improved their emotional intelligence abilities by 18% and increased their sales revenue by 12% compared to a control group.

These results demonstrate why emotional intelligence is such a promising avenue for sales recruitment. Not only can emotional intelligence be assessed and selected for during the hiring process, it can also be incorporated in sales training and development programs.

Once again, the proof is in the numbers. An emotionally intelligent sales force, empathetic to your customer’s needs, can provide the necessary competitive edge.

Do you measure emotional intelligence in your sales hiring process? Looks like it’s a good time to start!

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Ji-A Min

Ji-A Min

Head Data Scientist at Ideal
Ji-A Min is the Head Data Scientist at Ideal. With a Master’s in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Ji-A promotes best practices in data-based recruitment. She writes about research and trends in talent acquisition, recruitment tech, and people analytics.
Ji-A Min