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You Think Introverts Make Bad Salespeople? You're Wrong.

In a recent email, we received @hertelier, one of our readers, a sales manager for a hotel company shared, “Being a woman in sales, plus an introvert (shhh don’t tell my boss that) I’m always trying to figure out how to navigate my career!”

introvert cat meme

It was the (“shhh don’t tell my boss that”) part that got me wondering whether our reader was defining herself based on a personality category, rather than on her actual skill set. OK, a show of hands: who thinks it’s necessary to be an extrovert in order to have a successful career in sales? Yeah, I thought so!

Well, guess what? “Extroverts are not the only personality type that can succeed in sales — introverts also bring equally valuable skills to the table.” And Verizon would know! “The talents of introverts are often undervalued and dismissed unfairly by sales managers everywhere.”

In his article, The Sales Superpowers of Introverts, for Entrepreneur, Matthew Pollard writes, “The idea that the best salespeople are extroverts is so ingrained that we don’t even question it. But there is zero evidence supporting this. In fact, according to a comprehensive study led by Murray Barrick of Michigan State University, there is no correlation between extroversion and sales performance. Harvard Business Review reports these surprising results from a study on personality and sales:

  • Showy, bravado-type salespeople are more likely to alienate prospects than close them.

  • Salespeople in the top 90 percent demonstrate traits of modesty and humility.

  • Salespeople with high levels of gregariousness (friendliness and preference for being with people) ranked in the bottom third of overall sales performance.

Categorical thinking has always bugged the crap out of me, as it evidently does for Bart de Langhe and Philip Fernbach, authors of "The Dangers of Categorical Thinking," for the Harvard Business Review. Well worth a read, one of their big takeaways is, “Personality type does not predict outcomes such as job success and satisfaction.” AMEN!

That said since it’s unlikely that categorical thinking will go away in our lifetime, the good news is that it’s not about Introverts or Extroverts anymore, especially when it comes to sales. Based on a study conducted by Adam Grant from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, “Ambiverts pulled in 24% more revenue than introverts, and a mind-boggling 32% more revenue than extroverts!” To find out if you’re an Ambivert, here’s a little quiz for you. Or, you can define yourself based on a unique set of skills and personality traits that make you, YOU!

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