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The Role of Emotional Intelligence in Sales Enablement

Emotional intelligence (also known as emotional quotient or EQ) is the ability to perceive, understand, and manage emotions—both one’s own and those of others. Those with higher EQ can empathize with others or imagine themselves in another person’s shoes.

That being said, emotional intelligence can be such a powerful tool in sales. When salespeople can put themselves in the shoes of the people they’re selling to, they can better understand pain points and how to address them.

Throughout this article, we’ll discuss the role of emotional intelligence (EQ) in sales enablement and how your sales team can use EQ to increase sales.

The impact of emotional intelligence on sales performance

Emotional intelligence has been shown to play a major role in sales performance—and job performance as a whole. One study found that out of 34 important workplace skills, emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance and success in a role.

Companies understand that emotional awareness and intelligence are key signs of employee strength. McKinsey discovered that employer demand for emotional skills will grow by 26% by 2030. The World Economic Report found that EQ is among the top 15 skills for 2025.

But let’s get a little bit deeper. There are specific aspects of emotional intelligence that contribute to sales success. Some of those include:

  • Self-awareness: Self-awareness involves a clear understanding of one’s strengths, weaknesses, and emotions so one can regulate them and recognize their impact on one’s work.
  • Self-management: Self-management refers to your ability to manage your own emotions, especially in stressful or high-stakes situations. 
  • Social awareness: Social awareness is your ability to “read the room,” understand how people you’re with are feeling, and recognize their thoughts and emotions.
  • Relationship management: Relationship management refers to how well you work with others, managing and resolving conflict effectively.

The role of enablement leaders in fostering EQ in sales reps

While your IQ tends to be a more fixed number, EQ can be fostered and developed. A lot of this falls to sales enablement leaders, ensuring they’ve put together the proper resources to help facilitate better emotional skills in their sales representatives.

There are a few different ways to do this.

Providing EQ training and resources

First, make sure you’re providing the proper EQ training and resources as part of your sales enablement process. While looking for EQ in new hires is always a good idea, there’s no reason not to offer additional learning and development options.

Put together training modules, PDFs, courses, and other resources that you can upload to your LMS so all of your sales representatives can undergo emotional intelligence training while brushing up on your other sales enablement resources.

Provide examples of how sales reps can embody emotional intelligence throughout their sales process to help foster better customer relationships and relate more to each prospect.

Coaching and mentoring

Providing the proper resources is step one. But not everyone learns just by going through online documents or courses. Offering EQ coaching and mentoring is another great option.

This way, your sales reps can run through scenarios with your EQ coaches, grasping a clear understanding of how to display emotional intelligence as they sell. This can include instances like showcasing empathy to resonate with pain points and using social awareness skills to pick up on a prospect’s hesitations.

Creating a culture of emotional intelligence

Encouraging emotional intelligence in your sales reps’ process isn’t enough. You need to emulate proper emotional intelligence throughout your company culture. Train all of your team leaders and encourage emotional skills throughout all aspects of how your company runs.

This will provide plenty of real world examples of exhibiting emotional intelligence for your sales team to learn, understand, and incorporate into their customer conversations.

Enhancing customer relationships through emotional intelligence

Let’s apply emotional intelligence to the sales process and talk about how your sales reps can learn to improve their customer relationships through empathy and awareness.

Understanding customers’ needs and pain points

Emotional intelligence provides a salesperson with more insight than they could otherwise get from a prospect. This type of skill is almost akin to mind-reading. 

A customer comes to a sales team sharing their obvious pain points—but it’s important for a good, emotionally intelligent sales rep to read between the lines. This helps them to perceive additional pain points while also being able to better understand the customer’s needs as a whole.

If a customer says they need a time tracking software that’s less clunky, your sales team should be able to deduce the issues their current time tracking software is giving them (i.e., difficult for their team to use, too many features stuffed into one) so you can show them exactly how your tool is a better fit, solving problems you’ve figured out but they may not have specifically outlined.

Building trust and rapport

The better you’re able to help the customer, the more they’re going to trust you and want to work with you. And by exhibiting EQ skills, you’re automatically going to be able to build a better rapport with your customer base.

That’s because EQ skills like empathy, awareness, and other social skills naturally help people build better relationships—relationships that are based on trust, simply because someone feels understood.

One survey found that 57% of managers say their highest-performing employees have strong emotional intelligence. This is because they’re able to build that trust and rapport, and—especially among sales teams—close those sales and keep those customers happy.

Driving revenue growth through emotional intelligence

Building trust and improving customer relationships are key aspects of sales. But of course, we can’t forget the goal at the end of the day—driving revenue and increasing retention. Let’s cover a couple of ways that EQ can ensure revenue growth across your team, ensuring any time spent on building resources and training your team on EQ is well spent.

Increasing sales effectiveness

We have already cited several studies and surveys that talk about the correlation between emotional intelligence and job performance. Salespeople with higher EQ have the following advantages:

  • They’re better listeners, asking better questions and understanding the answers.
  • They can better navigate and handle objections and rejections due to their increased ability to regulate their own emotions and responses.
  • They tend to have larger networks to tap into due to their ability to resonate more with others.
  • They’re more motivated and stay in their roles longer because they’re driven and genuinely enjoy their work.
  • They’re not going to give up easily, a key factor considering it takes numerous touches and conversations to make a sale.

Each of these traits and skills leads to improved sales performance and increased effectiveness.

Leveraging emotional intelligence in sales strategies

Specific tactics that your sales reps can hone to exhibit emotional intelligence include:

  • Actively listening to each customer, asking questions, and really taking in everything they have to say
  • Reading the room, detecting subtle context clues from prospects that tell a deeper story about how they’re feeling
  • Maintaining optimism throughout the interaction, regardless of objections or rejections
  • Relating genuinely to customer concerns, needs, and pain points through empathy
  • Receiving feedback from clients graciously and applying that feedback to future interactions

By incorporating some of these EQ-related tactics, your sales reps can more easily resonate with their prospects, building better relationships and driving more sales.

Improve emotional intelligence in your sales team

Improving EQ amongst your sales reps is a win-win situation. You create higher performers, you increase emotional intelligence across your entire company, you keep employees happy longer, and you make more sales.

But you need to start with the right training—and one great way to do that is through an LMS like WorkRamp. Discover how we can help you create and share your resources with your team so they’re on the same page.

Complete the form for a custom demo.

Michael Keenan

WorkRamp Contributor

Michael is a SaaS marketer living in Guadalajara, Mexico. Through storytelling and data-driven content, his focus is providing valuable insight and advice on issues that prospects and customers care most about. He’s inspired by learning people’s stories, climbing mountains, and traveling with his partner and Xoloitzcuintles.

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