Extroverts do best in the sales department, while introverted, quiet employees are better off not interacting with customers. It’s just common sense, right? Here’s why that’s wrong.
A new study from the Wharton business school at the University of Pennsylvania claims that effective salespeople are made up of “ambiverted” individuals: those who split their talking and listening time 50-50.
Researcher Adam Grant collected three months of sales records for more than 300 salespeople, both men and women, and conducted a personality test for the group as well.
What he found was in line with his prediction: the best performing salespeople were those who were in the middle between introverted and extroverted. What’s even more surprising, Grant found that the two extreme personality types pulled in roughly the same percentage of sales. The highly extroverted didn’t even have an advantage against people we all typically assume wouldn’t be cut out for sales.
Too much of a good thing
The reasoning for this isn’t all that surprising. The high extroverts poured their sales pitch on too thick, effectively drowning out the customer and what he or she really is after. The opposite can be said for the introverted. They listen well but don’t possess enough confidence and staying power to close the sale.
That’s why the “ambivert,” a mix of both, is ideal.
“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.
Where to find them
The study’s personality surveys showed that, in reality, most people are ambiverted and it’s more rare to come across someone who is purely introverted or extroverted.
Encourage sales managers to spot the ambiverted employees in their department. Then find those who fit one of the two extremes. It may be beneficial to have them pair up with an ambiverted employee for a few sales calls in hopes that it can rub off.
What do you think about this study? Do these results gel with the results you see in your company’s sales department? Let us know in the comments below.