Introverts and Extroverts in Sales
Anyone, regardless of personality type, has the potential to be a good salesperson. But knowing your personality type can help you to succeed in sales because it will show you the areas in which you probably need to improve. While there are plenty of personality typing systems, most agree that the two basic personality types are the introvert and the extrovert.
What Are Introverts and Extroverts?
The most basic definition of these two personality types is that extroverts focus what's outside their heads while introverts focus on what's inside. As a result, extroverts tend to enjoy socializing, have lots of friends, and tend to be strong talkers. Introverts are usually more comfortable being alone rather than surrounded by people, they prefer to have a few very close friends, and they generally listen more than they talk.
How Does Introversion and Extroversion Affect Sales?
Extroverts are more likely to go into sales because their personality is a close match to what most people imagine when they think of salespeople. Actually, while introverts are not as commonly found in sales positions, they tend to do better on average than the extroverts.
Introverts have an advantage in sales precisely because they're more inclined to listen. A salesperson who listens to what the prospect has to say is far better armed to come up with the perfect proposal that the salesperson who speaks compellingly but doesn't pay much attention to what the prospect is saying.
Extroverts need to remember that the focus of a sales presentation is not on them; it belongs to the prospect and his needs. An extrovert who can learn to listen effectively will find that his sales will improve considerably. Note that listening effectively is not the same as sitting quietly while the prospect talks. Just giving the prospect a chance to speak isn't enough if the whole time you speaking, you're just thinking about what you're going to say next.
On the other hand, extroverts tend to have an easier time connecting with and building rapport with prospects. They also tend to be good at keeping control of the sales process, and they don't mind spending a lot of time on the phone making cold calls and the like.
Introverts usually have great listening skills but have a somewhat tougher time connecting with prospects and customers on an emotional level. It's important for introverts to study and master strong body language. Making eye contact, holding yourself in a powerful posture, and showing interest by nodding and leaning forward as a prospect speaks are all good body language for salespeople. Introverts may also have more trouble being assertive than extroverts, so making cold calls and asking for the close can be a big challenge for them.
Where introverts really shine is collecting all the data that prospects let drop and plugging that information into a sales pitch that's guaranteed to appeal. Introverts can be really patient with prospects who go on and on and on because they know that the more the prospect talks, the more effective the final pitch will be.
The introvert and extrovert personality types are actually a kind of spectrum. Extreme extroverts fall on one end, extreme introverts on the other, and most people end up somewhere in between. Ideally, you'll want to move somewhere into the middle of the spectrum. Both extreme extroverts and extreme introverts will struggle in sales, in different ways. But the salesperson who can incorporate the best of both personality types will thrive.