If you speak to many recruiters, psychologists and trainers, they may well tell you categorically that outgoing, extrovert types are likely to make the best sales people. It is in many ways the obvious stereotype if we think of how many sales people have been successful in the past. I am certainly an extrovert and yet Tom is an introvert. We can both sell. The climate has certainly changed in the last 5 years. There is general consensus that:
- Cold calling is dead or on its last legs
- Permission marketing has come to the fore
- Old style closing is now seen as a manipulative embarrassment
- You need to add value at every turn
- There has been never been a greater time to be a great listener
So if times have changed, is it time for the introvert to step forward? Personally, we are partners in a business based out of Cambridge University. Some of the extroverts sell well and yet the most successful sales person is a high introvert, who hates networking, socialising and building close relationships with clients. He consistently sells over £1m of consultancy and training every year. So how come he is so successful (over and above his drive and work ethic)?
Adam Grant, associate professor of management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, gave personality tests to 340 salespeople and compared their extroversion scores to their yearly revenue. Those who scored exactly halfway between the poles of extreme extroversion – Grant calls them somewhat oddly ambiverts – earned 24% more than the introverts and, surprisingly 32% more than the extroverts. I found the research very interesting. Grant – who is a former salesman and a self-described ambivert – says he is not sure why such individuals perform better. Here is my pennyworth:
- It could be that the ‘ambivert’ type is less distracted
- High extroverts can talk too much and be too full of themselves and their service or product
- Introverts sometimes find it tough to connect with prospects
- Extroverts may try and close too quickly and be seen as pushy
What is your view? Are you an extrovert, an introvert or an ambivert? What is your take on this interesting piece of research?