Don’t Hire That Introvert for Sales

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I was a newbie working in Human Resources, tasked with hiring a large group of inbound call center sales reps. One of the many grossly biased directives I was given included:

“Do not hire introverts.” 

Most sales managers incorrectly believe that introverts make terrible sales representatives because of the “Extravert Sales Ideal” – the more bubbly, loud, outgoing and talkative a person is, the more $$$ they will bring in. 

Unfortunately introverts are regularly denied job opportunities and passed over for promotions especially when the candidate is an Introverted Woman of Color (IWOC). Jacqueline Shaulis, the Director of the National Center for Intersectional Studies calls this the “weaponization of introversion.” 

Cue the buzzer. Game over. This shizzle makes me mad. But we are going to address it in this post.

 

The Truth About Introversion Every Sales Leader Should Know


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Introversion and Extraversion are about energy utilization, acquisition and renewal. {Janet M. Thuesen and Otto Kroger, Type Talk At Work: How the 16 Personality Types Determine Your Success on The Job (New York, 1992).}

At one of the end spectrum, the extravert recharges their internal batteries by being with other people. Their external reward system is high and often, the more people and the more interaction, the more energized they feel. Conversely, too much time alone can lead to feelings of emptiness and even depression.

At the other end of the spectrum, the introvert recharges their internal battery by being alone. With high intrinsic motivation, “me time” is not a luxury; it is essential for renewal. 

“We need time alone to restore ourselves. Introverts are pressured to push ourselves to the point of exhaustion in social situations—then we feel guilty for becoming irritable and grouchy. We blame ourselves for not being able to be ‘on’ all the time.” 

Michaela Chung, The Irresistible Introvert: Harness the Power of Quiet Charisma in a Loud World

 

Are Extraverts Really Better at Selling?

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Statistically, .07 is negligible, meaning, the relationship between extraversion and sales success is so small, it can be disregarded. Read that again.

And what tendencies do strong extraverts bring to sales conversations? Grant reveals these 3:

  • A desire to be the center of attention
  • Expressing excitement to the point they suppress other’s perspectives
  • Assertive, domineering sales pitches

My friends, those are sales LIABILITIES.

But we are biased to hire and promote extraverts in sales because… why?

 

4 Sales Lessons We Should All Learn from Introverts

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#1 Introverts Are Masterful Listeners

The expression, “Think outloud” could perfectly describe an Extravert’s behavior. There is very little distance between their brain and their mouth because Extraverts tend to be external processors. 

Conversely, an Introvert is an internal processor. They continuously take in the information they are hearing/observing and quietly put it through their inner CPU to do these two things which you should emulate: 

Your Introversion Sales Strategy

  • Restate what you heard to make sure you understand what them properly.
  • Do not interrupt.

 

Doing this help prospects feel valued AND the more a prospect talks, the more information you will have to understand their needs and which pieces of your value proposition are most important to them. When it’s your turn to speak, you’ll know exactly what to highlight.

 

#2 Introverts Are Comfortable With Silence

University of Minnesota researchers confirm that prospects need 8-10 seconds to formulate the start of an answer to a question. 8 seconds is a long time for silence, unless you happen to naturally be comfortable with silence like Introverts tend to be… 

Your Introversion Sales Strategy

  • Practice being comfortable with extended periods of silence.
  • If you ask your prospect a question and they don’t answer right away, don’t assume they did not understand and resist the temptation to restate your question. Sit with silence and give your prospect an opportunity to think through their answer.

 

#3 Introverts Prefer Meaningful Conversation Over Small Talk

This means Introverts are naturally able to build strong relationships with their prospects. 

Your Introversion Sales Strategy

  • Skip the small talk.
  • Trade chit-chat about the weather for questions that will elicit meaningful answers allowing you to get to know your prospect better. 

 

#4 Introverts Are Experts at Non-Verbal Cues

In an interview w Brilliant SMB, Shaulis confirms: “IWOC business owners especially excel in nuanced nonverbal communication…”

What a gift introverts have. Their natural ability to focus combined with their ability to read non-verbal cues means they can see where the prospect wants the conversation to go rather than steering the conversation in a non-productive direction.

Your Introversion Sales Strategy

  • Watch the prospect’s non-verbal reactions to your words. Is what you are saying resonating? Has it caused them to shut down? Pay attention. 
  • Be flexible enough to shift the direction of the conversation away from what you may have planned to where the prospect wants to go. There may be more sales opportunities down their road vs. the one you had planned. 

 

Concluding Thoughts

If you are a hiring manager, hopefully this post busted the myth around the “Extravert Sales Ideal” and you are open to hiring a diverse array of people and personalities for  your sales openings. 

If you are an Extravert or Ambivert (more info in upcoming posts), you’ve got 4 solid Introversion Sales Strategies that will amp your closing rates.

And if you are an Introvert, I hope this article has affirmed your natural gifts in a sales environment. 

Let me know in the comments. 

 

 

 

 

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