Why Introverts Have an Advantage in Modern Sales

Share By Sachin Shenolikar

We’ve all encountered “typical” salespeople. They’re smooth talkers. They’re extremely outgoing, even a little pushy. That’s just what it takes to do the job well, right?

Wrong.

The most successful salespeople have certain qualities in common: They’re great listeners, pick up cues from customers, ask smart questions, and know when and how to advance a sale. “None of those capabilities rule out the introvert,” says Nikolaus Kimla, an author and managing partner of Pipelinersales, Inc.

“Anyone committed to selling can be a successful salesperson,” he adds. “There’s no reason an introvert can’t be persistent and persuasive.”

In fact, in today’s digital age, introverts may actually hold an edge over extroverts when it comes to connecting with customers and working out a deal. Here’s how:

1. Introverts Won’t Bore Clients. We live in an age where attention spans are miniscule and time is extremely precious. The last thing customers want is a salesperson who yammers on and on. What they do want is someone who is interested in helping them.

“Introverts seem to intuitively understand that human beings have one mouth and two ears for a good reason,” says Kimla. “They can hone listening skills, and they can frontload a sales meeting with careful research so that they have something worthwhile to contribute.”

2. Introverts Are Low Drama. A brash personality can be a turnoff for customers. The best thing salespeople can do is put their egos aside and use the insights they’ve learned from customers to come up with a solution. “What will resonate with any prospect is a thoughtful, intelligent discussion that shows a salesperson is able to understand the customer’s true strategic needs,” says Kimla.

This style is called challenger sales — it hinges on sales reps being able to synthesize information on the spot and demonstrate their company’s value within that context.

“They listen actively and ask the right questions,” says Kimla. “They understand the difference between consulting and making a sales pitch, and they’re able to correlate information in the moment, and contribute in a way that builds confidence.”

3. Introverts are Perfect for the Digital Age. Mastering social media has become a must in sales, and there’s a subtlety to being great at it. Being overly aggressive, forcing your way into Twitter conversations, and overtly hawking your products just won’t work.

Add in the fact that being long-winded just doesn’t cut it in social media.Introverts may feel more comfortable becoming acquainted with prospects in 140-character “soundbites,” or are perhaps able to share advice with their contacts more easily in writing than they can in person,” says Kimla.

The bottom line is that being a great salesperson isn’t about just making one deal. It’s about creating and nurturing strong, lasting relationships. “Studies have shown that introverts excel at long-term relationship building,” says Kimla.

“There will always be shining stars in sales, as in every profession,” he adds. “But it’s possible that introverts may actually have an edge in creating the right environment for a mutually beneficial sale — simply by being themselves.”

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comments (30)

  1. Travis Gnehm

    This article shows how business and sales are dramatically changing. I will definitely share this with my colleagues!

    Reply
  2. Dsve P.

    Great read. Thanks.

    Reply
  3. Brian MacIver (@Palayo)

    There is no evidence to support that any personality ‘type’ predicts actual Sales behaviour. Interactive competence can be achieved by all ‘types’, having a particular ‘type’ may not disguise your Interactive incompetence.

    Buying is Changing, Selling is following, but your ‘personality’ will not save you, only your Sales Behaviours will. The statements in the article. from a practical Selling standpoint, are Common nonsense, or Folk Psychology.

    Reply
    • Cbatch

      Very well said. I couldn’t agree with you more!

      Reply
    • T. Mccloskey

      100% rite! #’s dont lie. You either can or cant. If you can, dont change, it’s like Tiger changing his swing!

      Reply
      • Jim

        Tiger does need to chage his swing because his body is aging. What worked 10-20 yet ago doesn’t necessarily work today. Adapt as needed however. Don’t jump on the band wagon just because everyone else may be doing so.

        Reply
    • Jim

      But being pompous — that always puts people off, right?

      Reply
  4. Sales Master

    I’ve been doing sales my entire life very successfully. I have NEVER seen an introvert consistently produce more than a extrovert even in today’s modern sales. This article is incorrect

    Reply
    • Morgan

      Introvert here. consistently taken territories from minimal sales (less than 500,000 a year) to new business and in excess of 6 million a year. I consistently outperform the extroverts and assist the extroverts because I routinely improve products and bring in products our customers want.

      Reply
    • Jim

      Well then, just because you’ve never seen it we must conclude only extroverts can sell. Being an extrovert or introvert makes no difference in my opinion. I’d love to see Jim Collins write a book on this. What really makes a difference in short-term and long-term sales success?

      Reply
      • Jim

        I meant to reply to “Sales Master.”

        Reply
    • JMcguin

      My father in law was just the introvert described in the article. He sold Accuras for about 15 years and outsold every over the top extroverted salespeople there from day one and he had ZERO sales experience going into it. He had so many “salesmen of the month plaques that he only displayed his 5 or 6 salesmen of the year ones. He took the job because he was over 50 after he was laid off from a previous job and sales positions were all that were available at the time. Being INFP myself intend to think of extroverts as polititians and introverts as problem solvers.

      Reply
  5. Paul

    Extroverts also tend to be somewhat bias and for lack of a better term “tunnel visioned”. Take Brian for example. Good luck with sales in the future

    Reply
  6. T. Mccloskey

    Ya bogus. The points you make for your argument are true. You have to listen. But, to be an introvert, by nature you avoid coversation. That wont sell. I have hired introverts on your principal and they are great order-takers. Thats it. A true salesman earns business beyond the walls of a standard retail interaction. Also, we true salesmen/women, evolve. I use a consultative approach with ROI and circle rebuttles. We also listen well. The wheel isn’t broken, why try to fix it?

    Reply
    • T. Mccloskey

      In addition, people still spend more on what they want than they need. Further, they will inherently go with someone they like and trust, you know, that thing called rapport. Sorry for the arrogance, as a salesman, its part of the personality trait. And it works. Btw, the very first objection you will always have to overcome is the fact that you’re a salesman. It’s always been. Nothing new.

      Reply
    • Jim

      Being an introvert DOES NOT mean you avoid conversation. It means you recharge yourself when you are alone. It also means that you only feel comfortable with people that you know well. A great trait in a sales rep with a “repeat” product.

      Reply
    • Al H

      Some people may be confusing “introvert” with “shy”…not the same thing. Shy peeps avoid. Introverts get their energy from within. Extroverts get their energy from others. Some peeps are hybrid, aka, situational extrovert…Normally an introvert, but an extrovert in certain situations, such as the sales encounter!!!

      Reply
      • JMcguin

        These are also known as “soft E’s or “soft I’s on the Myers-Briggs scale. barely fit in either category and can float somewhat between the 2. They also tend to be softer T’s and P’s. Basically the hybrid type you described. I know, I am a soft I.

        Reply
    • JMcguin

      Introverts do not avoid conversation, lock ourselves in rooms or cower at the thought of crowds. Introverts tend to think before speaking and don’t add “spin”. They are unusually good delegaters as opposed to someone who is charismatic and able to convince others to go along with an idea whether it’s bad or not. The best CEO’s in history were introverts. Can’t remember the authors name but read the book “Quiet”. It dispels many urban myths about introverts.

      Reply
      • Victoria

        True. Introverts think, act, then think again. Extroverts do the opposite.

        Reply
  7. Stephen

    I hate to say it to you extroverts out there. Introverts are the real thinkers in society. People actually learn by listening and asking questions. Not talking like they know everything. Think about it for a second. Folk Psychology is actual real psychology. People actually think about life themselves and come up with their own conclusions. Much as this might shock some of you. It really can be done..

    Reply
  8. Know Your Audience

    I work in a world-class research institute, and I’ve noticed that salespeople who excel at traits more common to introverts are much more likely to close a sale here and earn very loyal repeat business from us. Since many experienced salespeople claim extroverts make more effective salespeople, perhaps that’s true when the average IQ of the customers is much lower than it is where I work.

    Reply
  9. Jim

    “Know your Audience” …well said.

    Reply
  10. Jeramy

    The article is nice, but you have to use a combination of tactics. You have to use roi laced tactics to sell in my environment. Trust comes from programs working. You have to be a little pushy and a little arrogant to close. Assume and you’ll find every objection. The fact u got an appointment overcomes the objection of being a salesman

    Reply
  11. Introvert by nature

    I would agree this article has some good pints.
    No way I am the classic salesman.An more introverted than extroverted.
    Best bet is just be yourself and develop the skills to e a good salesperson.Its the business model of having to close no matter what on a sales call that drives what may be considered pushy which coincides with extroverted.I have been successful for over 30 years without all the over the top salesy talking through the prospects.

    Reply
  12. Introvert with an Important Message

    Judging by the comments posted, I think people are missing the point of this article (and generally not understanding what an “introvert” truly is). The author isn’t saying that introverts are the future of sales, or that they’re better in any sort of way, but is simply making the argument that extroversion isn’t necessarily better either; people of both personality types have their strengths and weaknesses, and intoverts are sometimes unfairly looked down upon in a retail or sales environment. Also, for clarification, us introverts do not ‘hate’ or ‘avoid’ conversation and interaction, we simply have a different perspective and approach to it. We value listening, and our silence is often misunderstood as not caring when, in reality, we care very much about understanding whoever else is speaking.

    Reply
  13. Extrovert with an open mind

    I can’t say that I disagree with this article in its entirety or the comments. It isn’t a matter of who’s better all the time, it’s that some situations call for different types. I’ve been in situations with intros where it was an absolute disaster, especially in medical sales if your target audience are high level surgeons…many of whom are extroverts and walk all over the intro. Where I disagree with the article and some commenters is that I believe intros have a tough time advancing the sale. While intros are not as some people claim it is a fact that by nature they avoid conflict. Most times, closing involves conflict. And almost every intro, sales or not, that I have been around goes quiet when the sledding gets tough. It’s one thing to say that they “understand” by listening but sometimes handling objections requires talking and whether you like it or not, marginalizing the customers smoke screens. Even the most adept objection handler will usually get push back on price, we all want something cheaper…confrontation usually ensues…

    Reply
  14. Manu alborotos

    Aspie power

    Reply
  15. Myko

    It’s about being patient enough to hear the person, and decide how to help them :)

    Reply

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