5 Soft Skills to Increase Sales

If your organization wants to boost sales (or fundraising), what skills should be developed in those employees who are on the “front line” with the customers or prospects? Technical skills? Sales techniques? A study by Dr. Rich Handley shows that empathy, emotional self-awareness, problem-solving, assertiveness and happiness/optimism are all strongly correlated with meeting and exceeding sales targets.

Surprised? It gets even more convincing. Out of 1,100 salespeople in the study, the researchers then looked at those with the highest scores in the five strongly-correlated competencies to see their results in “real life” performance. Those with the highest scores in the five competencies hit 100% or more of their sales goals 95% of the time! Most organizations would be ecstatic if their sales force performed at that level.

All five soft skills mentioned above are Social and Emotional Intelligence competencies which can be measured, coached and improved.  Let’s take a closer look at each of them:

  • Assertiveness (called Personal Power in our version of the S+EI assessment) – a sense of self-confidence, belief one can set the direction of one’s life, and ability to make things happen for oneself.  When you exhibit high Personal Power, you feel grounded and confident, feel in control, are able to set healthy boundaries, and trust your judgement.
  • Empathy – the ability to sense others’ feelings and perspectives, take an active interest in their concerns, and to take that perspective into account.  When you exhibit high Empathy you are able to attune to the emotional signals of others, be sensitive to others’ perspectives, and are able to help the other person based on an accurate understanding of their needs.
  • Happiness (called Realistic Optimism in our S+EI profile) – a tendency to look for opportunities rather than threats, expect success, and view others positively.  When you exhibit high Realistic Optimism, you calmly approach obstacles as challenges to be overcome, believe you will succeed in your endeavors, and see success as a function of motivation and ability.
  • Emotional Self-Awareness -noticing and accurately labeling one’s emotions in the moment, understanding the source of the feelings, and using your emotions or intuition as a source of insight to make decisions. When you exhibit high Emotional Self-Awareness, you manage your impulses and emotions well, think clearly and stay focused under pressure, and stay composed and positive even in trying moments.
  • Problem Solving (or Initiative and Bias for Action) – being proactive and persistent, and acting on opportunities. When you exhibit high Initiative and Bias for Action, you create and seize opportunities rather than wait for them, act before being forced to by external circumstances, and pursue goals beyond what is required or expected.

By measuring and increasing skills in these competencies, the analysis and correlation show that increased sales success is highly likely. Regardless of whether you are a sales professional hoping to manage your career and become a star in the sales team, or whether you manage or support a team that could achieve more, this is encouraging news. Social and Emotional Intelligence can be measured, coached, and improved over time.

If you want to know more about your own competencies in these areas (and 21 more), or would like to explore how to use this knowledge in your workplace or with your sales/fundraising team, contact us with questions or to schedule your own online assessment and debrief.  For organizations, we also offer a 360-degree Emotional Intelligence assessment process that provides feedback on 26 competencies from peers, supervisors, direct reports, and/or customers for a holistic and honest assessment of a team member’s competencies.