The relationship between EI and sales performance in a b2b environment; with implications for cross-cultural adaptability.

Zehetner, A. (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


The existing empirical findings on the connection between emotional intelligence (EI) and sales performance are inconsistent. Possible reasons are examined: The non-linearity of the relationship between EI and sales performance as well as the interaction of EI with professional skills and demographic variables. The empirical research was conducted as a census of sales representatives within the Austrian branch of an international company in the construction sector. Data was collected using three different methods to reduce effects appearing from method variance. Hierarchical regression modeling including three-way-interaction analysis was applied. Results show a direct relationship between EI and sales performance in the form of an inverted "U" as well as moderating effects of EI on the relationship between selling (but not technical) skills and sales performance. Higher order interaction analyses reveal compensation effects of professional experience, age and education as well as EI. Younger sales representatives, such with less experience, and those with less formal training use EI more strongly to turn their selling skills into sales success. Implications for marketing and sales practices include: EI contributes to sales performance in B2B companies, also in the construction sector, often referred to as "unemotional". The effect is non-linear, which means that the "the-more-the-better" paradigm is to be critically questioned when selecting sales staff. For tasks requiring a high percentage of technical competence, the effect of EI is less (it can even be negative) than in tasks that primarily require sales skills. Sales and marketing managers should consider EI in recruiting and personnel development. Particular attention should be paid not only to sales staff with weak, but also to those with very strong EI levels. As the results or this study are subject to high cross-cultural variability, thoughts on potentially different results in other than the Austrian cultural zone are provided.
Period16 May 2019
Event titleCross-cultural Business Conference (CCBC) 2019: null
Event typeConference
LocationSteyr, Austria