Is an introvert an ideal sales person? I say yes, absolutely! As an introvert myself, I am keenly aware of the benefits of being an introvert and am always amazed at how this personality type gets the short end of the stick, especially in sales, a seemingly extroverted profession.
To keep it simple, I define the difference between an introvert and an extrovert by looking at where they find energy. When introverts want to re-charge, they look to do it alone. For extroverts, they get energy from being around people. It’s the difference between wanting to go to a cocktail party or settling down to read a good book. This doesn’t mean introverts don’t enjoy parties or business meetings but they probably won’t be the last one at the bar or lingering late into the evening.
It’s a common misconception that introverts lack people skills. But what if you looked at it from the perspective of someone who prefers to build deep, long-lasting relationships? Some also might presume an introvert is shy and quiet but you could instead view them as thoughtful and introspective. Once you take the notion of extroverts as the only personality types for a career in sales out of the equation, then the possibility of introverts being successful in sales becomes a reality. I am proof of this myself.
In today’s selling environment, it takes more than just being good at building relationships to find, win and keep business. Customers are savvy and they are looking for insight, value and a point of view to help guide them in realizing their business objectives. One of the many strengths of the introvert is their ability to listen well. In turn, this enables them to ask better questions – a critical skill of the successful consultative salesperson. Also, they tend to be highly prepared and creative.
In a perfect world what sales manager wouldn’t want their people to be thoroughly prepared for every sales call, to sincerely and effectively listen to the customer, ask thoughtful questions that get to the heart of the matter and uncover needs to ultimately recommend solutions based on this dialogue? For those attributes alone, the introvert can be just as successful as the extrovert when it comes to selling today.
This reminds me of two adages’ I learned early on in my career. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” and second, “people love to hear the sound of their own voice.” These help me to focus on the customer and to listen for things that are truly important to them. Thank you, Mr. Dale Carnegie (himself a famous introvert). For more reading on introverts, I recommend Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I think you will find it eye opening, and you may even come to realize you too are an introvert. I will happily welcome you to the club. Food for thought!
So what is my secret for being successful in sales as an introvert? I’ll cover that in my next post, Getting Your ‘R’ On. What do you think, can introverts be strong sellers? Share your thoughts in the comments.