Hiring Sales People – Part IV – Emotional Intelligence


Part IV. There is a popular trend stressing importance of Emotional Intelligence and it’s connection to sales ability.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand other’s emotional and psychological state as well as one’s own reactions and emotions. Intuitively it makes sense that to do well in sales, you not only need to understand your prospects emotions, but your own as well.

An increasing number of books are making the connection between the two.

However, I’ve done a literature search and can find very little quantitative evidence on this correlation. (If you know of actual data and not anecdotal data, please leave a comment sitting the source.) The link between the two has become a “credo;” something that seems true through repetition, but maybe true, somewhat true, or entirely false. (Check out There Are Alligators in the Sewers of New York City.)

That doesn’t mean that it isn’t important to have emotional intelligence in dealing with prospects.

One interesting data point comes from a study by Adam Grant of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, and referenced in Daniel Pink’s new book, To Sell Is Human. Grant asked the question, who is better at selling, Introverts or Extraverts? Conventional wisdom might say that extraverts are better. They are more social, gregarious and able to hold conversations with others. On the other hand, maybe introverts are better since they probably listen more and talk less. Again, conventional wisdom is wrong.

There is no significant correlation between extraversion and sales performance. There is also none for strong introversion. Interestingly, it is the “ambiverts” who performed significantly higher in sales results.


It’s relatively easy to test for Introversion and Extraversion. Bottom line: yes, Emotional Intelligence makes sense, but try looking at the Extraversion scale and since we often hire people like ourselves, take the test yourself.

Do Great Things!

Lee Stocking
Prairie Sky Group
Making Sales Cry With Qualified Leads
651-357-0110 (Cell24x7)

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