Chapter 5 – Sales Emotional Intelligence

EQ, or Emotional Intelligence, is a hot topic among sales leaders. Word has spread that when it comes to sales success, EQ trumps IQ. This makes the identification of those with natural EQ, and its development in those who lack it, important tasks to boost the effectiveness of any sales team.

A pre-employment assessment, such as the APQ, is a useful tool to achieve both of those goals. First, it illuminates areas of potential weakness to create awareness. Second, tests like the APQ provide coaching reports which inform the test taker how to stretch their own personality to best communicate with different buyer types.

Eventually, this knowledge helps salespeople develop the emotional intelligence needed to accurately match/mirror the personality of the buyers they work with. Professionals at this level can effortlessly do this whether they are on the phone, at a trade show, or sitting with a client. To get there, they need to understand their own personality type.

The Four Levels of Emotional Intelligence

Four Levels of Emotional Intelligence

Four Levels of Emotional Intelligence

Pre-employment assessments can be used to gradually raise EQ for the following 4 distinct levels:


The first step to self-improvement is self-awareness, otherwise salespeople won’t know what to correct. Pre-employment assessments reveal personality strengths and weaknesses, and show us who we are compared to everyone else based on our nine personality traits.


Everyone has blind spots which can have a negative impact on other people. These correlate with extreme personality traits. The APQ shows these as scores over 80 percent or under 20 percent. Once identified, test takers can be coached to adjust or stretch from these blind spots in order to better relate to more people.


Pre-employment assessments with compatibility charts compare test taker scores to peak performers in a variety of job roles. This reveals whether the candidate is a good fit for a specific position, such as outside sales hunter, or whether they are better suited for another role, such as inside sales. For those with traits just out of range, coaching reports illustrate how to modify behaviors and attitudes to achieve greater success.


Once candidates understand their own personality style they are better equipped to change their communication habits to stretch to other personality styles. At the highest level, they can match/mirror the style of the buyer to enter into a much deeper emotional connection. This leads to higher affinity and understanding – making them likelier to win business.

Sales Emotional Intelligence

Sales Emotional Intelligence

How emotional intelligence affects sales

Elite salespeople excel at establishing rapport. They draw others to them by making them feel appreciated and understood. As buyers primarily do business with those they like and trust, rapport is the first requirement of every sale.

In order to achieve this, emotional intelligence and the ability to adapt to and mirror different personality types is paramount.

The Cargill Consulting Group estimates that 82 percent of buyers buy from salespeople who match or effectively mirror their personality styles. Mirroring does not mean to assume the personality style of the other person 100 percent. It simply means to give them information in the format they need to make their decision, while unconsciously building trust by displaying “sameness” in voice tone and body language.

For example, let’s imagine a saleswoman is making a presentation to a Reflective Thinker personality. The seller is a Direct Driver type, meaning she tends to cut to the chase and offer blunt recommendations. These personality types do not naturally mesh very well, as the Thinker likes to carefully weigh every detail while the Direct Driver marches forward. However, this saleswoman has had coaching based on a pre-employment assessment such as the APQ and did her homework.

First, she prepared a solid analysis of the buyer organization’s needs, with plenty of concrete facts and figures demonstrating how her service will help achieve them. She uses these during her presentation with statements such as “others have experienced 40 percent increases in efficiency,” “based on my analysis, I predict an ROI of 15 percent after 6 months in service,” “here are the details of how this works”.

Not only this, she is careful to slow her speech during her presentation to match the buyer’s and tries to slightly mimic his body position during much of the conversation. She closes the deal because she has used EQ to better connect with this particular personality style, a direct result of her testing and coaching.

If she uses this same approach with a fellow Direct Driver, she would likely not succeed. She would have to adapt to this new buyer. Rather than get wrapped up in details, she would present the big picture in a couple of slides to appeal to the Driver’s desire for immediate answers. She might lead with, “I am positive we can improve your company’s revenue by cutting staff in Department A, reorganizing B, and implementing a training program in C. I can cover all the details, but I want to gauge your interest so far.” Then she can give a high-level overview, delivered in a direct and forthright fashion to match the personality of the buyer, and likely have this deal close.

Emotional intelligence is not a pie-in-the-sky concept with little practical application. Instead, it can be understood to form the basis of successful sales efforts, the primary tool to establish rapport and have buyers open up to new solutions. Pre-employment tests which help build EQ are therefore extremely valuable to every sales team.


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