According to the business dictionary, emotional intelligence (EI) is defined as “the ability to identify, assess, and influence one’s own feelings and those of others.” As it is recognized that a handful of top salespeople are attributed to the majority of each company’s sales, research suggests that those top performers are endowed with a stronger emotional quotient (EQ) than the average salesperson. A study on more than 40 Fortune 500 companies also revealed that salespersons with higher EI outperformed their peers with low and medium EI by 50%. Although emotional intelligence boosts success in all professions, a higher EQ has no greater application than in a sales position.

Although some people are born with higher emotional intelligence, it is an aptitude that may also be developed through training. EI may be a technical term of psychology, but what are the behavioral components used by successful sales representatives that bring them more success? Emotional intelligence bridges the gap between knowing and doing. Although a salesperson might know what needs to be done, they allow their emotions to override during stressful situations and sales meetings rather than using effective influencing and selling skills. Higher emotional intelligence levels help in winning over difficult personalities and prove useful in prospecting, negotiating, overcoming rebuttals, and dealing with other aspects of sales. Below is the list of the five major components of emotional intelligence that are the characteristics of the highest performing sales representatives.

Self-esteem and regard

Higher self-esteem or self-regard is considered as the inner confidence endowed to people with high emotional intelligence. This helps the salesperson to admit and accept their strengths and weaknesses. These are useful for the often tested salesperson and support being resilient and help them bounce back when needed.


Self-awareness helps recognize strengths and weaknesses and allows salespeople to highlight the positive aspects of their personality and better understand the prospect’s perceptions. Emotional intelligence helps in more self-awareness which enables the salesperson to build relationships based on understanding and trust.

Salespersons with higher Emotional Intelligence (EI)


Self-management is another key aspect endowed to people with high emotional intelligence. It helps salespeople keep impulses under control in testing situations. To adapt to any situation, emotions should be in control, and this ability is an asset in maintaining harmonious relationships with prospects and customers.

Relationship management

Good relationship management is an art, and people with higher EQ are more adept at it. Sometimes it takes months and years to build and nurture a relationship with a prospect or a customer. Emotional intelligence lays the foundation of any relationship management effort. How strong and healthy the bond is between you and your prospect or customer is dependent on how well you perceive the needs of the mutual understanding you share. This ability is mainly reliant on emotional intelligence.

Social awareness

Assessing a situation objectively and putting yourself in the other person’s shoes are some of the qualities often required by salespeople. Empathy and compassion in demanding situations are mainly governed by emotional intelligence, which is largely required by the sales fraternity. More social awareness on the part of sales representatives allows them to overcome rejections and help in predicting others’ actions and behaviors. This is a significant plus for top performers, which allows them to win the hearts of their prospects and customers and consistently create better sales outcomes.

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