It’s not difficult to distinguish between an introvert and an extrovert. Those who thrive in social settings and seem like they have caffeine running through their veins are extroverts. Those who are more comfortable cuddled alone on a couch than in a crowded club are probably introverts.
Who do you think would be better for a career in sales, the social butterfly or the quiet thinker?
The answer might surprise you.
Introverts Better at Listening, Attention to Detail
Introverts’ might get a reputation for keeping to themselves, but that could actually benefit them in an entry level sales job. Traditionally, they have stronger attention to detail and listen better than extroverts. This means they’ll give clients their full attention and ask questions until they fully understand what the client expects of them.
There are qualities introverts aren’t naturally inclined to that could make a sales career more challenging. The world of sales often requires a go-getter attitude. People who aren’t comfortable approaching strangers to pitch their services could find themselves struggling to build new business relationships.
Extroverts Have Stronger Social Skills
Extroverts, meanwhile, won’t have any problem prospecting new clients. Networking events and business meetings are their favorite parts of the job, and boldly asking potential sales clients for their business isn’t nearly as nerve-wracking as it is for their introverted counterparts.
On the other hand, extroverts will have to work harder than others to keep up with the administrative side of their job. Multi-tasking and speaking with clients is no problem, but remembering to finish an end-of-the-month report can be nearly impossible. Extroverts can also have a more difficult time understanding what their clients need because their brain is bouncing around between so many different subjects.
The Ideal Sales Personality is …
An ambivert. Since the 1920s, social scientists have used this term to describe a third personality type that is a mix of introvert and extrovert. Naturally, combining the charisma of an extrovert with the critical thinking of an introvert is a win-win for people in sales careers.
Adam Grant, author of Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success and a professor at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, surveyed 300 salespeople for three months to identify which personality type would be the most successful at closing sales.
He found that ambiverts made 24 percent more sales revenue than introverts and 32 percent more sales revenue than extroverts. Even more surprisingly, his study found that introverts and extroverts made about the same amount of sales in the three-month period.
Grant suggested that ambiverts’ success comes from their ability to control their exuberance.
“The ambivert advantage stems from the tendency to be assertive and enthusiastic enough to persuade and close, but at the same time, listening carefully to customers and avoiding the appearance of being overly confident or excited,” Grant said in an interview with Forbes earlier this year.
It’s not surprising ambiverts are so successful in sales careers. In fact, ambiverts are successful in just about any career. Stephen Spielberg, William Shakespeare and John Lennon all exhibited ambivert qualities.
Are you curious about whether you’re an ambivert? You can take a personality quiz here.