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How does lack of emotional intelligence skills impact sales results?

Thousands of dollars are invested in sales training each year. And often there is a gap in learning and execution of skills in the real world. Well-intentioned sales managers invest hours in training sales skills. However, lack of sales results isn’t always tied just to selling skills.

Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success by Colleen Stanley

Poor sales performance can be caused by low emotional intelligence skills. For example, most salespeople know that they should prospect consistently, sell on value not price and meet with all the buying influences. So what’s the real reason salespeople don’t do what they are supposed to do?

It’s called the knowing and doing gap.

Some examples of the knowing and doing gap:

Knowing vs. Doing: The Emotional Intelligence Skills Gap

  • Discounting and getting price shopped – lack of self regard or assertiveness
  • Inconsistent prospecting activity – low impulse control or delayed gratification
  • Not talking to the decision maker(s) – assertiveness and problem solving
  • Spending hours on unqualified proposals – reality testing
  • Selling too small of deals – delayed gratification
  • Low on resiliency – self-regard and reality testing
  • Present too soon – impulse control
  • Ineffective listening skills – empathy and interpersonal skills
  • Poor at building likeability factor – empathy and interpersonal skills

Knowing & Doing Gap - Emotional Intelligence | SalesLeadership

I can't recommend salesLeadership enough! "The first time I sent my sales team to this sales training workshop, we went from $5 million a year to $20 million a year. Guess what...I didn't need any help justifying this investment to our board! If you are in sales, and you can't figure out why the whole process feels gross, inauthentic, and less effective than it was 10 years ago, then your answer waits at this workshop." Aaron Owens, Tech Strategist, Intelligent Demand, Denver, CO

I am having the best year attributing much to leveraging the Ei Sales principles! "I have been selling technology consulting services for some time. Attending the SalesLeadership training helped me identify those "emotional" triggers in client conversations - it has particularly assisted me in avoiding practice proposals for clients that were NOT going to engage. I now ensure that each client conversation includes curious questions & stories. This approach helps validate both our value and fit for the clients who WILL engage. It has made me much more efficient, enabling a significant increase in the number of consulting engagements over prior years and more successful client engagements." Bob Lindquist, Consulting Services Director, Omaha, NE

Instead of us trying to convince you, we’ll let the research make the business case:

  • Optimism is an emotional intelligence competency that leads to increased productivity. MetLife selected salespeople on the basis of optimism and they outsold the lower scoring MetLife salespeople by 37%.
  • American Express put a group of Financial Advisors through three-day emotional awareness training. The following year, the trainees' sales exceeded untrained colleagues by millions of extra earnings.
  • In analyzing data from 40 different corporations, the differentiator in star performers and average performers was the level of emotional intelligence versus pure intellect and expertise. (Goleman, WEI, cf.Jacobs and Chen, 1997)
  • In a 1996 US Air Force study, 1500 recruiters were test to discover common EI traits among recruiters who achieved 100% of their quota. By duplicating those EI traits, retention rate increased 92% saving in excess of 2.7 million.

(Source of this information was the website for the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations.) Click here for sales training workshop outlines

Soft Skills Plus Hard Skills =
Sustainable Sales Results


SalesLeadership and Michael earn my highest recommendation. "I had the pleasure of attending SalesLeadership's Ei Selling® Boot Camp in Denver. I was particularly impressed by the quality of the trainer facilitating our workshop. Michael handled tough questions and selling situations - effortlessly. The program and great facilitation motivated a group of sales people to be better and stick to a proven selling process." Michael Jensen - Sales Executive Sterling Diligence, Kansas City, MO

Self-regard: The ability to respect and accept yourself as basically good.

Low scores in this area can lead to discounting. If a salesperson doesn’t think they are of value, they charge less and discount without any concession strategy.

If a salesperson doesn’t think they are of high value, why would a prospect? Low self-regard can also affect the resiliency and bounce back factor after hearing no or losing a deal. Instead of moving on and up, the less resilient salesperson takes rejection personally and resists doing the activities necessary for sales success.

Impulse control: The ability to wait in order to obtain something that one wants.

A salesperson scoring low in impulse control (delayed gratification) thrives on the opposite: instant gratification. This may affect a salesperson’s ability to consistently prospect for new business.

A salesperson scoring low in this area gets easily frustrated if their business development plan doesn’t yield immediate results. As a result, they quickly give up doing the sales activity necessary to open up new opportunities.

Instant gratification can also affect a salesperson’s ability to navigate through large major account sales. Salespeople scoring low in impulse control (instant gratification) often grab the low hanging ‘sales’ fruit because it is easier and quicker to sell. 

Click here for Colleen's article on impulse control.


This trait is composed of three basic components:

  1. The ability to express feelings
  2. The ability to express beliefs and thoughts openly
  3. The ability to stand up for personal rights

Good sales managers teach their salespeople to meet with all the buying influences before putting together a recommendation. They work diligently with their sales team on pre-call planning strategies. So when the salesperson doesn’t meet with all the buying influences, it can no longer be attributed to lack of knowledge or training.

The real reason can be that the salesperson isn’t assertive enough during the sales process to expect and get a meeting with all the buying influences. They go along to get along and put together a proposal to a decision maker who can say no, but can’t write a check.

Lack of assertiveness also shows up in the salesperson’s ability to set and get agreements. They end up in ‘chase mode’ because they have not clearly defined and gained agreement to the next step of the sales process.

Empathy: Tuning into what, how and why people feel and think the way they do.

A salesperson scoring high in this area senses the dynamics occurring during a sales call and has the ability to adapt and adjust. They pick up on the non-verbal cues of that comprise almost 90% of true communication. Empathetic salespeople have the ability to step into the shoes of their prospects and customers which enhances connectivity and chemistry.

Consultative Selling Skills

Consultative selling skills continue to be very important in building a high performance sales team. SalesLeadership’s trainers are experts at teaching high-level influence and selling skills.

Our instructors practice what they preach. They aren’t just platform trainers, teaching from a manual. They are prospecting, meeting with prospects and closing business. Here are the common selling challenges we hear and eliminate:

  • Price Objections: Is your team meeting with the right profile? Do they know how to quantify the cost of the problem or opportunity? There is also a new competitor in the market place: doing nothing.
  • Ineffective Prospecting: A strong business development plan is diversified and time is invested where there is the biggest return on investment. Today’s sales professional must be proficient at building referral partnerships, sales 2.0 tools, public relations, marketing, email prospecting, speaking, and the list goes on. Does your sales team have an effective lead generation plan in place?
  • Differentiating from the Competitor – People buy emotionally, not logically. If you’re still selling features, advantages and benefits, STOP.
    • FAB is an intellectual selling approach that immediately puts you in the same category as your competitor. If your prospect hears the same story from everyone, you simply sound like a commodity, i.e. you have good service, deep bench of expertise and been in business 20 years. And the last time we checked, prospects don’t pay much for a commodity.
  • Chase Mode: This is when salespeople are leaving voicemail messages and emails with no return phone call … even after the prospect told him/her to follow-up in two weeks.

Learn how our proven sales training strategies can enhance the performance of your team and improve management effectiveness. Call SalesLeadership at 303-708-1128 today or email for more information.