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Why is Emotional Intelligence so important in sales?

Skills around pitching and closing are essential for sales success, but so are skills that are harder to quantify. Let’s find out more about Emotional Intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence, sometimes called EQ or EI, is a concept first put forward by the psychologist and author Daniel Goleman in the mid-1990s. It concerns the ability of a person to recognise, manage and understand their emotions, as well as those of others.

Goleman stated five critical areas of Emotional Intelligence:

  • Self-awareness - identifying the state of your own emotions and how they may impact other people
  • Self-regulation – controlling your emotions to prevent negatively affecting others
  • Socialisation – building rapport, creating and maintaining connections
  • Empathy – identifying and responding to other people’s feelings
  • Motivation – the drive or enthusiasm to take on or complete a task

These skills are essential for success in all aspects of life, but in sales, EQ can spell the difference between good and great. Let’s find out why.


Without EQ, it is impossible to build rapport with your prospects or customers. When you create an emotional connection, something that is over and above a salesperson trying to sell a product to a prospect, you instinctively get better.

When you genuinely connect with a prospect, you can understand the pain they are feeling and how you create impact with your product. Your win rates will rise, as will retention and customer satisfaction.

The emotional sell

People buy based on emotion, which they later justify with logic. So, the buying and sales journey should be an emotional experience for both parties.

When you possess high levels of EQ, you can create sales triggers that pull on your prospects’ emotions. You’re not pitching; you’re telling a story casting your prospect as the hero.


Let’s be honest. Sales can be tough sometimes. You could be an SDR making 100 calls a day, with the vast majority of them saying, ‘No thanks.’ (If you’re lucky!) You could have worked for weeks on a deal, only to see it fall through because of circumstances outside of your control. You need high levels of resilience to handle these setbacks. You need to be able to pick yourself up after rejection, to make that next call or go to that next meeting.

When your EQ is finely-tuned, you stop taking rejection as a personal insult. You stop absorbing the negative energy.


Personal success and high-performance do not happen without high levels of EQ. For example, EQ ensures consistency and helps you stay motivated.

We all have days when we’re not at our best, when we just ‘don’t feel like it.’ You need to be able to control your emotions and keep pushing on. You also need to be able to cover up these feelings to put on a professional face for your customer. Even if you’re having a bad day, you can’t let your customers see that.

Research shows that EQ is a critical trait that differentiates top performers from the rest.


EQ brings patience. Having a sense of urgency is vital in sales, but patience remains a virtue, especially as we move to a buyer-centric reality. 

You need to be able to delay your gratification. Sometimes the sales process from lead to deal can take months, even years. You need to be able to keep on prospecting with enthusiasm and energy, even when you know you may not see the benefit for a long time. This comes with EQ.


Empathy helps build rapport, but it does so much more than that. When you listen to your prospect and step into their shoes, you can discover their goals, priorities and pain points. This means you can deliver a tailored solution based on the specific challenges they face.

Boosting your EQ

It is clear than increasing the levels of EQ in your organisation can only bring benefits. How do you go about doing that?

As a sales leader, you need to start with yourself. Be more in touch with your emotions and how they may affect other people in your orbit:

  • Listen more
  • Put yourself in other people’s shoes
  • Don’t be afraid to show vulnerability

Following on from yourself, you can start to build a high-EQ environment in your team and company. Coach them on how to listen and show empathy. Create an environment where positivity rules the day, where people give praise as a matter of course, where reps can face their setbacks with a smile.