Lessons from introverts on how to be better salespeople

Last week I wrote about the value that engineers, technicians, scientists and mathematicians can bring to the world of selling in 21st century. I mentioned their qualities of analytical thinking, problem solving, their deep knowledge base, amongst other things. I also referred briefly to the traits of introverts, ambiverts and extroverts.

As mentioned it has been a long held belief that extroverts made the best salespeople; the gift of the gab, being charming and persuasive, telling a good story, people oriented and friendly, and all that.

However, the qualities of introversion and ambiversion are proving, in some or many sales circumstances to be very useful in helping us sell better. Before I delve into this area, it is worthwhile looking at and better understanding these traits.

Introverts, ambiverts and extroverts

An article in Fast Company, written by Belle Beth Cooper in August 2013, gave some great insights into introverts, ambiverts and extroverts and the science that underpins these traits. Here are some excerpts:

There is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. Such a person would be in the lunatic asylum, so said Carl Jung. So really, if we looked at how most of us operated, we would never be on either spectrum of the scale. It’d be much more likely that we are somewhere in the middle (…)

There are a few theories about the differences between introverts and extroverts, and some recent research has even shown that our genetic makeup has a lot to do with which tendencies are strongest in each of us. And unlike my theory about how outgoing or shy we are, introversion and extroversion actually relate to where we get our energy from. Or in other words, how we recharge our brains.

Introverts (or those of us with introverted tendencies) tend to recharge by spending time alone. They lose energy from being around people for long periods of time, particularly large crowds.

Extroverts, on the other hand, gain energy from other people. Extroverts actually find their energy is sapped when they spend too much time alone. They recharge by being social.”

Ambiverts are moderately comfortable with groups and social interaction, but also relish time alone, away from a crowd.

In her 2012 bestselling book, Quite: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking’ discusses how modern (western) culture undervalues introverts, Susan Cain refers to research in neurobiology and psychology to demonstrate that introversion is not only normal – it is estimated that one third of people are introverts – but also that introverts are extremely capable. The book has really got business, education and society in general thinking about the value and power of introversion.

So how can the qualities of introversion help us sell better?

In the College Matchup ‘Introverts in sales’ infographic they identified the following:

  • Quiet and thoughtful – Introverted customers will often avoid high-energy assertive employees. Many introverts prefer to be helped by other introverts, so they feel their space isn’t being violated;
  • Communicate best one-on-one – Introverts can better connect with an individual rather than a large group;
  • Form a few deep attachments rather than many shallow friendships – Introverts can form a deeper relationship with customers than extroverts, leading people to trust what they say;
  • Think carefully before speaking – Salespeople who speak carefully with purpose tend to be more trustworthy. They also are less likely to make a social faux pas and offend customers; and
  • Reflective – Introverts are more likely to look back at their performance and think: “How could I have handled that situation better / differently?” This leads to more refined skills.

As stated by the research, we are all likely to be ambiverts working our way across the introversion-extroversion scale so perhaps we can all learn from each other. Although in a world of hyper activity perhaps cultivating our inner introvert would go a long way in helping those of us in sales to do better business and cultivate better client relationships based on trust and discernment.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Sue Barrett is the founder and CEO of the innovative and forward thinking sales advisory and education firm, Barrett and the online sales education & resource platform www.salesessentials.com. Get to know her further on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.


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