The question is as old as the hills – who makes the best salesperson, the introvert or the extrovert? Many people imagine that sales success can only come if you are loud and outgoing, and that shy and retiring types may not be able to handle the cut and thrust of the business world.
The reality of course is somewhat different, and both introverts and extroverts can thrive in a sales environment. Knowing your personality type will help you get ahead as you can play to your strengths and work on shoring up your weaknesses.
In this article, we put both personality types under the microscope before considering which traits have the sales edge. The result, according to scientific studies, may surprise you.
It is a common misconception that introverts cannot do well at sales. However, you don’t need to be brash, flash and gregarious to win big in business. Introverts are good listeners, aware that we only have one mouth but two ears. Unlike extroverts, who often talk at a dizzying rate of knots, they choose their words carefully and ask perceptive questions that ensure their targets fully explain their needs. This cannot happen if a salesperson is aggressively following a script.
Where extroverts shine at cold calling, introverts will encounter hurdles as their natural disposition makes it more difficult for them to talk to strangers. But that doesn’t mean they can’t secure lots of new orders. Their diligence will ensure they do enough research and pre-sales work to win over new clients.
Extroverts have the gift of the gab, they are social butterflies who thrive on spontaneity. They love challenging situations, are quick to see opportunities and will leap on them with lightning quick speed. Networking events, cold calling and business meetings hold no fear for them and they are comfortable pitching to strangers. Extroverts have the confidence and the charisma to seal the deal. They are optimistic, charismatic, sociable and assertive, which can all be useful traits for the salesperson.
However, in continually shooting from the lip, extroverts may lose sales because they don’t listen fully to their prospects. People are wary of being talked at and manipulated. But with their strong desire to communicate and their super outgoing natures, extroverts are able to make numerous connections and forge strong relationships with prospective clients.
Are You an Introvert or Extrovert?
Do you feel comfortable when all eyes in a room are focused on you, or do you prefer to shy away into a quiet corner? Answer these quick questions to find out:
1. Do you love being the centre of attention?
2. Do you feel energized when you go out and meet new people?
3. At social gatherings, do you try to talk to as many people as you can?
4. Are you always taking risks?
5. Do you tend to speak spontaneously without thinking?
If you answered the majority of these questions with a “yes”, then you are probably an extrovert. If you answered the majority with a “no”, then you are more likely to be an introvert.
However, could you be somewhere in between?
Who has the Sales Edge – Introverts or Extroverts?
The world is not black and white and it may be that you are neither an introvert nor an extrovert. Psychologists have identified a third personality type – the ambivert. This is a person who falls in the middle of the introvert-extrovert spectrum and exhibits traits of both. In fact, the majority of people are ambiverts, enjoying social situations and interactions, but also relishing “me time”. Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Jung identified this group when he claimed that: “There is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. Such a person would be in the lunatic asylum.”
Ambiverts are also successful sales people. The stereotype has it that extroverts will grab the best and biggest deals and be lighting up the Havanas before the day is out. But not so, according to a huge study by Adam Grant of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Management. In his 2013 research paper, Rethinking the Extroverted Sales Ideal: The Ambivert Advantage he analysed 35 different studies of nearly 4,000 salespeople and found that there was almost no difference between introverts and extroverts. It was the ambiverts who came out on top. They earned hourly revenues that were 24% higher than extroverts.
And who were the worst performers? Those at the extreme ends of the spectrum.
There you have it. Sales success can come from being neither introvert nor extrovert, but by being able to strike a balance between the two and drawing on their best features.
Our Training is designed for YOU – whether you’re an extrovert, introvert or ambivert. We recognise and understand the power of the instinctive brilliance of individuals within your team, and combine that with unique, powerful tools that change behaviour and drive new revenue through your door.
If you want to know more, please give us a call