Emotional Intelligence & the Savvy Salesperson


Share on LinkedIn

If you don’t haven’t heard of the term “emotional intelligence” before, it’s time to listen up because it can make a BIG difference in your sales results.

Colleen StanleyColleen Stanley, President of Sales Leadership Development, knows what it takes to get business today. And, she knows a whole lot about how salespeople create their own obstacles too — all because they’re not paying attention to Emotional Intelligence.

That’s why I asked her if she’d answer a few questions on this very timely topic.

Jill: What is Emotional Intelligence (EI)?

Colleen Stanley: Emotional Intelligence is defined as “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.” (Daniel Goleman, renowned author and emotional intelligence expert.)

A simpler explanation is ‘know thyself.’ What are your hot buttons? What situations cause you to react or not act in a manner that serves you well personally and professionally?

Jill: Why should salespeople care about Emotional Intelligence?

Colleen Stanley: One of the reasons we integrated emotional intelligence and consultative sales training is what we call the knowing and doing gap. Many salespeople are able to demonstrate a selling skill or communication skill perfectly during a sales training workshop or sales meeting.

Then, when the salesperson gets into a tough selling scenario, emotions take over and none of the effective selling skills are executed. The salesperson reacts to the prospect and goes into fight or flight behavior.

For example, they may get defensive with the prospect. Or, because they’re afraid of losing a customer, they may end up giving big discounts. The result is no sale or an unprofitable sale.

Jill: Can you give a specific selling scenario where Emotional Intelligence skills affect sales results?

Colleen Stanley: Sure. Here’s one I see everyday. A hard working sales manager has trained and coached the salesperson to ask the prospect for their budget before putting together a recommendation.

When the equally hard working salesperson asks the prospect how much money they have in their budget often gets these answers, “I’m not sure. Or, we don’t have one. Just put something together.”

This is where the emotional intelligence skill of ASSERTIVENESS comes into action. The non-assertive salesperson doesn’t explain to the prospect that without a budget they can’t put together a solution. They feel like it’s being pushy.

(Can you imagine telling a home builder to put together a set of drawings without knowing their budget?)

Instead, they often waste their precious time writing a proposal only to have the prospect say, “This is too high.”

The truth is, the prospect HAD a budget or they couldn’t have told the salesperson it was too high.

So a salesperson scoring high in assertiveness will not take the first answer of “put something together.” Instead, they’ll be nicely assertive and explain to the prospect that they don’t write recommendations without a budget range.

The assertive salesperson understands they have the right to know whether the prospect is willing and able to invest in their services before putting time and energy into a solution.

Jill: So true. And so many salespeople don’t realize that. Do you have more examples?

Colleen Stanley: I could go on and on! Prospecting is another area where Emotional Intelligence comes into play – big time. Many sales organizations have established key performance metrics for business development. So what’s the real reason the sales team isn’t prospecting consistently?

It can often be linked to an emotional intelligence skill called DELAYED GRATIFICATION. Salespeople that score high in this EQ skill are willing to do the work before they earn the reward.

They understand that prospecting is a continuous process not an event. They will continue to prospect, even if they are not getting the instant reward of an appointment.

Jill: Amen. What’s one thing a person could do differently today to increase their EI and their sales?

Colleen Stanley: Schedule downtime and don’t wait for society to reward you for it!

We live in an environment where people really pride themselves on being busy. They’re always connected and checking into cell phones, Facebook, email and who knows what else.

Research shows that it is in the downtime that more clarity is gained by understanding the what and why behind our actions or inactions. Think about how many times have you fixed a problem after a good night of sleep.

Jill: So are a lot of companies are using Emotional Intelligence these days?

Colleen Stanley: American Express, Avon, Loreal, MetLife, Medtronic, 3M, Motorola, Honeywell, Johnson and Johnson just to name a few that are incorporating it into their management and leadership training.

Emotional intelligence is still in its infancy for many sales organizations which is why we are excited to be leading the charge. Integrating emotional intelligence skill training and consultative sales training is a huge advantage over the competitor.

You have a sales team that knows how to manage themselves, read prospects better and overall are more enjoyable to worth with.


Colleen Stanley is president of Sales Leadership Development, a sales and sales management training firm. They’re experts at integrating emotional intelligence skills with consultative skills to drive increased revenues, profits and happiness.

To learn more, visit www.SalesLeadershipDevelopment.com or call 303-708-1128.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


  1. Nice work, as always Jill.

    The timing was very good for discussing how Emotional Intelligence factors into selling. At Objective Management Group we believe it is so important that we developed a sales specific version – The Sales Posturing Index – and incorporated it into our Sales Force Evaluations, Sales Assessments and Sales Candidate Assessments. Our data on the findings that make up the Index go back only about six months, so we have Sales Posturing Index data on roughly 20,000 salespeople – a pretty good sampling – and we can see a one-way correlation: The elite top 6% of all salespeople also have high Sales Posturing Scores. However, it does not hold true that all of the salespeople with high sales posturing scores are top salespeople.

    Here is a link to a page with more detail:

    Dave Kurlan
    Best-Selling Author,
    Top-Rated Speaker,
    Authority on Sales Force Development

  2. Great article, Jill. Emotional Intelligence skills form the foundation for success in all business activities – leadership, team effectiveness, customer service, and sales. Our company specializes in the assessment and training of emotional intelligence skills – directly with corporate clients – and we also certify coaches, trainers, and consultants to use the most widely used online assessment for EQ in the world – the Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i). Feel free to check us out at http://www.eitrainincompany.com Best Regards!


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here