When we think of careers suited for extroverts, sales often springs to mind. After all, nothing could be more exhausting to an introvert than having to talk to dozens of people every day and maintain a positive demeanor to seal every deal.
However, a surprising study by the Harvard Business Review (HBR) disputes this belief.
The HBR reports that being an extrovert had no impact on a salesperson’s ability to sell; in fact, some of the negative qualities of being an extrovert, such as bravado and overt friendliness, are more likely to alienate customers. On the flip side, humility and modesty were two traits possessed by those who were 90% better than other sales people in their company. Interestingly, these traits often accompany an introverted personality.
The reason, as Entrepreneur.com reports, is actually fairly simple. Being effective at sales does not require a profound skill for speaking or storytelling. Instead, salespeople need to be great listeners. This attention to detail and attentiveness to their subject is often found in introverts.
Now, that doesn’t make extroverts bad at sales. Instead, you can harness the power of the introvert and spread the wealth among your sales team by doing the following:
Introverts have a powerful ability to connect one-on-one with whoever they are speaking to. They thrive on personal conversations, wherein they can build a rapport with one or two other people rather than a group. This trait is necessary for salespeople to acquire, as it makes prospects feel safe and heard.
A long spiel about a product or service is overwhelming, especially when the person providing it feels like a total stranger. Before launching into a pitch, an introverted salesperson knows to ask questions, begging the prospect to lead the conversation and push the salesperson into the appropriate action for a sale.
Keep It Relational
People remember stories. They want to hear stories of success and failures, often applying the lessons from those stories to their own lives. Introverts can captivate an audience — maybe that’s why so many introverts are also authors — and salespeople have to strike that balance between sharing stories and listening.
For more guidance on how introverts can maximize a sales team, pick up Matthew Pollard’s book, The Introvert’s Edge.