A paper by David Hardesty and co-authors Jonathan Hasford, Blair Kidwell, Broderick Turner, and Alex Zablah has been accepted at the Journal of Marketing.
In the paper, "Emotional Calibration and Salesperson Performance Abstract," the authors propose that the link between emotional intelligence (EI) and sales performance can be better understood by considering a salesperson’s confidence in how they use emotions, known as emotional self-efficacy (ESE).
Four multi-source studies across diverse sales industries offer evidence of the interactive effect of a salesperson’s EI and ESE – which the authors term "emotional calibration" – on a salesperson's performance.
The authors find that sales performance suffers when salespeople are either overconfident or under-confident in their emotional skills and perform best when they are calibrated. Further, they demonstrate that the performance gains associated with emotional calibration are attenuated when salespeople are under stress; and they occur because they encourage positive avoidance emotions (calmness and relaxation) among salespeople that result in improved customer rapport - but only among salespeople with relatively longer job tenures.
Overall, the research highlights the critical role of ESE as an essential but neglected aspect of a salesperson’s emotional competence.