Boost Your Emotional Intelligence In Sales By Understanding These 12 Skills

BY Jessica Helinski
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Research shows that 58% of job performance is tied to your emotional intelligence. And, awareness is growing about the important role of emotional intelligence in sales, also known as emotional quotient (EQ). 

Successful salespeople possess many skills,” writes Jennifer Dublino for Business​.com. “However, their most essential skill may be emotional intelligence.” Possessing a high EQ enables sellers to connect more deeply with buyers, which is what drives success in sales today. Building relationships should be a top priority nowadays to align with what modern buyers want.

Yes, you can build your emotional intelligence in sales

Emphasis on EQ is fairly new, as sellers shift to more relationship-​based sales. Sellers may not have worked on developing this soft skill, but the good news is that it can be grown. And first, sellers need to understand that emotional intelligence in sales doesn’t just mean being nice and calm. Having a high EQ means embodying multiple skills. As Jessica Stillman explains for Inc., emotional intelligence is having a balance across a broad range of competencies. She explains that there are four initial areas of emotional intelligence: self-​awareness, self-​management, social awareness, and relationship management. These four “buckets” are filled with 12 elements, each an important skill that builds one’s EQ:

  • Emotional self-​awareness
  • Emotional self-​control
  • Adaptability
  • Achievement orientation
  • Positive outlook
  • Empathy
  • Organizational awareness
  • Influence
  • Coach and mentor
  • Conflict management
  • Teamwork
  • Inspirational leadership

Author and emotional intelligence expert, Daniel Goleman, and business school professor, Richard Boyatzis, introduced the importance of these 12 skills in relation to emotional intelligence. They encourage sellers to be thoughtful about where their strengths and weaknesses lie in regard to each. “Simply reviewing the 12 competencies in your mind can give you a sense of where you might need some development,” they write. There are also a variety of assessments available to help uncover areas that could use developing. Some may require coaching to hone while others can be successfully nurtured through thoughtful action. 


For example, empathy is a highly-​valued soft skill and an important element of emotional intelligence in sales. If you feel that empathy is an area that could use work, start focusing on listening. Active listening allows you to hear and process what someone else is saying and invites you to pick up on their tone and other emotional signals. SalesFuel also has a collection of professional tips for building empathy that you can use

Positive outlook

There is also guidance available for working on your outlook. Maintaining positivity contributes to high emotional intelligence in sales and doing so is something that you can develop on your own. As SalesFuel notes, “One of the most important factors in successfully shifting your mindset is to focus on what you can control. If you spend too much energy and attention trying to control things out of your reach or capabilities, you will only end up frustrated.” Tips for improving your outlook include

  • Writing out your annual goals and making them visible for positive reinforcement.
  • Prioritizing positive connections. 
  • Incorporating humor into your day.
  • Reframing mistakes as learning opportunities

Opportunities abound

When looking at the list of 12 elements, how many do you feel you possess already? Are there any of those skills that you haven’t even considered developing? There are so many opportunities to build your emotional intelligence in sales, and now is the time to do so. As buyers increasingly prioritize soft skills in sellers, having a high EQ will help you build those strong relationships buyers want. 

Also, take a listen to this SalesFuel’s Manage Smarter podcast episode for advice on nurturing your emotional intelligence. While it’s directed to managers, the professional tips can be employed by sales reps as well.

Photo by Alexander Suhorucov