Do You Have a Sales Advantage Over An Extrovert?

Introvert and Extrovert Thumbnail

It never fails. People always make the same stupid mistake. They assume that extroverts have an advantage when it comes to sales. Worse yet, since they are not extroverts, they assume they don’t have what it takes to sell. So what do they do? They go out and hire an extrovert to sell for them. And when that doesn’t work, they just assume they hired that one extrovert that doesn’t deliver. So, they look for another extrovert to fill that role.

How stupid is that? Assuming an extrovert is good at sales is like assuming a blond is dumb. It’s so ignorant that it’s offensive.

Here is the truth. Again and again, academic research has shown that being an extrovert does not give you any advantage in sales. In fact, it’s the opposite. And the best sales people, they are not extroverts. They are not introverts (although better than extroverts). They are just normal (known as ambiverts).

No offense to extroverts. You’re all great. You just don’t have the natural sales advantage everybody thinks you do.

There’s Nothing Conventional About Wisdom

I just got done reading Dr. Adam Grant’s latest research on the subject and I wanted to share some of it with you:

“According to conventional wisdom, productive salespeople are likely to be extraverted, which is the tendency to be assertive and enthusiastic (DeYoung, Quilty, & Peterson, 2007). Studies show that extraverted people tend to gravitate toward sales (Barrick, Mount, & Gupta, 2003) and are more likely to be selected for sales positions by managers (Dunn, Mount, Barrick, & Ones, 1995). As Costa and McCrae (1992, p. 15) explained, “Salespeople represent the prototypicalrts in our culture.”
“However, studies have returned weak and inconsistent relationships between extraversion and sales performance. For example, extraversion was not significantly related to performance in wholesale manufacturing sales (Barrick, Mount, & Strauss, 1993), health and fitness sales (Furnham & Fudge, 2008) or business-to-busies (Stewart, 1996).”
“I propose that the relationship between extraversion and sales performance is not linear but curvilinear: ambiverts achieve greater sales productivity than extraverts or introverts. Because they naturally engage in a flexible pattern of talking and listening, ambiverts are likely to express sufficient assertiveness and enthusiasm to persuade and close, but are more inclined to listen to customers’ interests and less vulnerable to appearing tod or overconfident.”
“…ambiverts have a sales advantage over extraverts regardless of their standing on the other four Big Five personality traits.”

Key Takeaway: Extroverts don’t have a sales advantage. Stop hiring salespeople (i.e. business developers) simply because they are outgoing. Stop using “but I’m not an extrovert,” as a reason you can’t be great at sales.

Do you know an intelligent person who believes extroverts have an advantage when it comes to sales? Forward this to them or send them a link to this page to set them straight!

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  1. Lisa Koressel says

    Matt- I always had trouble defining myself as either an Introvert or Extrovert (in casual conversation or on Meyers-Briggs assessments). My answer was always ‘it depends’ and ‘can’t I be right in the middle’? Now with ‘Ambivert’ I have found this happy medium! AND there is a business case for it, too. Thank you!

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