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IQ vs EQ – Which is more important for success in sales and marketing?

Jenny Reardon | 20 July 2021

Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is one of the markers by which we judge a person’s intellectual aptitude. Emotional Quotient (EQ) is the metric we use to measure a person’s emotional awareness. These characteristics are both valuable in sales and marketing, but which is more important, a high IQ or a high EQ? 

To answer this question, we first need to understand the context in which they exist. Let’s explore this by looking at two scenarios based around sales and marketing. 

Sales scenario 

In sales, high intelligence and high emotional awareness serve very different purposes.

For example, let’s say you're interested in a company’s products and reach out to their salesperson. They share the specs of the product, and detail how it was developed based on the latest findings and using cutting-edge technology. Judging from the interaction and the information they provided on the product, it’s safe to assume they’re fairly intelligent. 

However, when you ask them about how user-friendly the product is, they ignore your question and continue on about the specifications of the product. They’re not listening to you, and it could be because they have a low EQ.

You then contact another company and engage with a salesperson who’s very attentive and friendly. They make you laugh and respond quickly to every question you ask. They’re very socially aware. 

However, whenever you ask them a question, they get simple details wrong, and when you ask them for clarity, they try to shift your focus onto something else. This salesperson might be very charming, but they may lack the intelligence to understand how their product works.

Marketing scenario

IQ and EQ also serve different purposes in marketing, but their purpose is similar to their function in sales.

For example, one marketer with high intelligence crafts a campaign that focuses on the technical aspects of a new product. In a way this is impressive, but completely ignores the needs of a potential client and how this product is going to help them solve problems. 

Another marketer with high emotional awareness addresses the needs or problems a potential client might face. However, while they promise solutions, they don’t connect this to the actual functionality of the product. This leaves the client questioning how this will help them.  

What this means

When it comes to both sales and marketing, being highly intellectual but lacking the social awareness to understand your lead is just as problematic as being highly socially aware but lacking the intelligence to understand your product.

To perform efficiently in sales and marketing, you need both a high IQ and EQ. Daniel Goleman, the author that helped bring EQ into the mainstream, highlights this in his discussion on how EQ gives people the edge in specific jobs:

The more your success on the job depends on relating to people – whether in sales, as a team member or a leader – the more emotional intelligence matters. A high-enough IQ is necessary, but not sufficient, for success.

But why is this the case? To better understand this, we need to look at why EQ is important to both sales and marketing.

Why EQ gives you the edge in sales

Richard Stevenson, a writer for Business.com, highlights these key points about EQ and sales:

  1. Overcoming objections – A customer will take steps to ensure their needs are met, and will possibly have objections. You'll need to properly empathise with them in order to navigate these.
  2. Handling rejection – Salespeople with a high EQ will understand that rejection isn't personal and will be less affected when a customer turns them down.
  3. Building rapport – Higher EQ gives you a better understanding of how an interaction is going so you can react and adapt your pitch accordingly.
  4. Delayed gratification – Impatient salespeople might not want to help a lead down the funnel, and instead focus solely on BoF customers so they can close sales quicker. This could cost you sales opportunities.
  5. Individuals with a high EQ make better managers – The manager of a sales team needs a high EQ so they can help their team manage the emotional ups and downs of their successes and their failures.

Why EQ is important in marketing


As a marketer, your job is to build a relationship with a lead. This can only be achieved through empathy, which will allow marketers to put themselves in their lead’s shoes and understand their needs, wants and desires. This will in turn allow them to create content and messaging that speaks directly to their target market.  

However, without EQ, there is no empathy. Without empathy, there is no connection. Without a connection, you cannot build a relationship.

Gain a deeper understanding of EQ and marketing 

As a B2B marketer, you need to take advantage of every tool you can to gain an advantage on your competition. This is why we’ve put together our eBook Connecting With Your Leads Using EQ: Understanding the Critical Role of Emotional Intelligence in Marketing. In this eBook we explore what EQ is, how it’s important to marketing and how you can make use of different EQ in your marketing strategies to improve your results. 


If you’d like to find out more about GCL and how our telemarketing and lead generation services can help you reach new leads and grow your revenue, contact us today