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Why Extroverts Aren't Necessarily Better Suited for Sales Positions


If you’re thinking about hiring for personality, some examples spring immediately to mind. Techies and accountants should be introverts, right? And salespeople should definitely be extroverted.

This can be the case … sometimes. But extroversion is no guarantee of success in sales. In fact, it makes more sense to hire a balanced team of introverts and extroverts to work in your sales department. Curious about why that is? Here are just a few reasons.

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The best salespeople are the best listeners.

It’s true that anybody in sales needs to be comfortable talking with others. But it’s easy to forget that both speaking and listening are critical in creating a productive conversation. This is especially true in sales. Making a major purchase (either as an individual or on behalf of a business) is stressful. Giving customers space to explore and express their concerns and to explain their specific needs can be one of the best ways to ensure that they end up not only sold on the particular product they end up with, but with your company overall.

Customers are wary of traditionally “salesy” salespeople.

The idea that salespeople must be outgoing chatterboxes has become so ingrained in our collective consciousness that it’s now almost synonymous with pushy or dishonest sales practices. (Think of the archetypal used car salesperson if you’re not sure what this looks like.) Working with someone who responds to questions thoughtfully and slowly can often put people more at ease, knowing that they’re not dealing with one of “those” sales types.

Sales can be a surprisingly isolated profession.

Gone are the days when most sales took place on a showroom floor. More and more often, today’s salespeople are working through social media, online messaging systems, email, and over the phone. Sitting in front of a screen for much of the day can feel extremely frustrating for some extroverts, who get their energy and enthusiasm from in-person interactions with large numbers of people. Sales goals and commissions are typically handled on an individual, rather than a team basis. If your open sales position is mostly about coaxing people to your vendor booth at industry events, an extrovert might be best for the position. But for following up on warm leads in a call center environment? An introvert might do just as well (or better) as their more extroverted friend.

Mixed teams are your best bet.

You need to send two people to an industry networking event to try and make a sale or five. Who do you send, extroverts or introverts? The answer, ideally, is one of each.

This gives you one person to draw in a crowd and another to pay attention to who feels left out of the conversation. One person who will meet everybody present and make an impression, and another to start digging into specs with someone who’d rather speak deeply about business than chat about basics with twenty colleagues.

Because, of course, your customers at that event are both introverts and extroverts. And having a team that can adapt to the preferred communication style of the people you need to impress is exactly where you want to be.

Want to make sure you avoid common pitfalls when thinking about who to hire?

Download True Match: Hiring For Personality to ensure you get beyond the stereotypes and start thinking scientifically about the personality that’s best suited to your company’s needs.

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