Why Emotional Intelligence is One of the Top Sales Soft Skills

BY Tim Londergan
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Sales soft skills are abilities that allow salespeople to achieve their highest potential. Essentially, these skills become personal traits that shape how you work on your own and with others. The list of sales soft skills typically involves qualities that build rapport, boost credibility and help a seller achieve success through behavior and actions that originate effortlessly. Importantly, skills such as empathy and teamwork, are outer-​directed and contribute to collaboration and problem-​solving. Others, such as creativity, critical thinking and integrity are core principles that contribute to emotional intelligence.

Sales soft skills are not about personality

Let’s get this out of the way. According to Thomas, a global recruiter, personality is HOW we think, feel and WHY we tend to behave in a certain way. Whereas behavior is WHAT we do. Further, personality traits are innate qualities that have evolved through genetics and environment and are relatively stable. However, behavior is situational; and can change according to current circumstances. Successful salespeople incorporate sales soft skills to deliver industry knowledge, build rapport and perceive a customer’s response while representing their product. These ad hoc behaviors are irrespective of your personality but will help you identify with the prospect, gain knowledge and insight and negotiate to mutual satisfaction.

Technical skills versus interpersonal skills

Technical skills will often land you a job. However, interpersonal skills will promote better emotional understanding for yourself and others. According to Walden University’s life-​long learning program, hard skills are job-​related competencies gained through training, practice, study, and life experience. Soft skills, on the other hand, become personal habits that are driven, in large part, by emotional intelligence. Hard skills are often applicable to a certain career; soft skills are transferable to any type of job.

The key components of emotional intelligence

In order to identify, understand and manage your emotions and the emotions of others you need to get to the heart of the matter. Kendra Cherry, MSEd, writing for verywellMind​.com, says that some experts suggest that emotional intelligence (EQ) might be more important than intellectual intelligence (IQ). Cherry cites articles that EQ may be linked to better decision-​making, higher academic achievement, and greater overall success in life. This strong endorsement deserves further examination of the individual components of EQ.


Beyond recognizing your own feelings, how your actions, moods and emotions affect others is the key to this piece of EQ. Furthermore, realizing how you feel and how you BEHAVE is vital in monitoring your own emotions. If you struggle with self-​awareness, the author suggests keeping a journal to be more mindful of your emotion/​behavior cause and effect. Another trick is to simply ask for constructive feedback. There is much power in seeing ourselves as others see us.

Social skills

Being able to competently interact with others expands your world. Discreet abilities such as nonverbal communication and active listening skills will help you develop strong ties in your daily interactions and communications. To improve your social skills, Cherry suggests practicing good eye contact and asking open-​ended questions to encourage free-​ranging conversations.


This powerful dynamic cuts across social and cultural divides as it helps you understand other people’s feelings to discern their viewpoint. Sharing your own feelings, talking to new people and imagining yourself in their place are two of the author’s suggestions.

Reflect on your work performance:

As a practical exercise, recall recent work situations to assess what soft sales skills may have contributed:

  • Assess how well you listened, comprehended and responded to a customer.
  • Think of an unexpected situation that occurred. How well did you respond?
  • Imagine how your client would describe your interaction with their colleague.

Photo by Anna Shvetsv on Pexels.