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Is Emotional Intelligence More Important than Intellectual Intelligence For Sales Roles?

The Betts Team
September 7, 2019

Sales and marketing roles, which Betts Recruiting specializes in, have traditionally been “social” jobs. The most successful people in these roles are extroverted, loud, and personable.  How important is emotional intelligence when hiring sales employees?  How critical are social and emotional “smarts” to be competitive in your job?


Betts Recruiting, in an effort to continue to grow and learn, decided that we should each take an EQ Test.*  EQ stands for Emotional Intelligence (or Quotient) and is the sister to the more commonly known “IQ” test.  But instead of testing your intellectual intelligence, it tests your ability to see connections between what you do and how you act and how it affects other people. 

Why EQ may be more useful to test than intellectual intelligence

The EQ test measures an individual’s score for “self-awareness”, “self-management”, “social awareness” and “relationship management” with a quick and simple test that then breaks down what your strengths & weaknesses are.  IQ test results are pretty static – you probably won’t see much variation in your intellectual intelligence between tests. But with EQ tests, you can actually improve & change your EQ test scores with practice and awareness.  Let’s say you score high in social awareness and relationship management, but low in in self-management. Those are skills you can actually build upon. Taking this test makes you actively aware and able to improve any weaknesses.
There are a lot of studies and a general belief that EQ can help predict how successful people are.  Think of the people around you – the ones that are the most successful in their careers and work. Are they also successful in their relationships with loved ones and family?  You may even say that EQ is more important than IQ in helping people reach their goals both personally and professionally.

Why EQ matters in sales

Employers are now paying attention to EQ and general emotional awareness.  This is especially true in sales, since everyone knows sales (and recruiting) is about relationships.  Many employers argue that emotional intelligence – being able to read a situation and communicate more effectively – is now just as important SaaS experience and educational background when it comes to determining someone’s qualifications for a sales role.
Hiring managers often say a person did not fit with the team or the company culture. Yet, when pressed, hiring managers have a hard time explaining exactly what that means. Even if they don’t use the exact words, they’re likely referring to a candidate’s EQ.

*The book and test that we took was “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves.