When it comes to hiring effective salespeople, here's something you should consider about personality-type.
When is the last time you hired a salesperson that you think is absolutely perfect for the job, only to find out they can’t close a sale if their life depended on it?
If this has happened to you, you’re in good company.
For a long time, I wondered why this is such a common scenario—why is it that someone can seem like a great salesman, but when it comes down to it, they have a hard time gaining the full trust of clients?
I wanted to get to the bottom of this, not because I’m a psychologist, but because sales are such an important part of building a business. So I did research to gain a better understanding of what makes someone good at sales. I also posted my thoughts on this topic on LinkedIn, asking my followers what they think makes for a good salesperson.
Most seemed to believe that, in general, extroverted people make better salespeople. This makes sense. An ideal salesperson is someone with a friendly, outgoing personality who can schmooze like a pro, is comfortable in social situations, and doesn’t shy away from making requests. And, by definition, an extrovert is sociable, assertive, and lively, ideal traits when it comes to moving and persuading others… Right?
There’s a lot of truth to that. But it’s not the whole story. Many people immediately will put up their guard when they encounter someone with these traits, associating them with the stereotype of a pushy, untrustworthy used-car salesman. They fear they’ll be manipulated into buying. And if there’s one thing people don’t like, it’s being sold to.
The best salespeople are in fact not extreme extroverts OR introverts (and research backs this up). They tend to have many of the qualities of an extrovert: they enjoy being around people, good at expressing themselves. They also have many qualities of an introvert: they’re soft-spoken, deep thinkers, and careful analyzers.
As someone commented when I asked about this topic on LinkedIn, “While extroverts are typically quicker closers, introverts can find it easier to engage with clients on a deeper level.”
In my experience, the best salespeople (and of course, there are ALWAYS exceptions to the rule) actually embody a balanced mix of extroversion and introversion. In other words, they’re what they call “ambiverts.” They know how to strike a balance between listening and responding. They know when to speak up and when to shut up. They get along with a very wide range of personalities and are able to adapt their way of communicating to the needs and desires of whomever they’re speaking to.
If your job includes selling—which, if we’re being honest, includes ALL of us, here are a few Ptex practical pointers for getting in touch with your inner ambivert:
1. Get to know yourself.
Figure out where you fall along the introvert-extrovert spectrum. Are you more of one or the other? Do you tend to default to one or the other? Becoming aware of yourself and your tendencies is the first step to improving your ability to sell.
2. Embrace diversity.
If your sales team is lacking a certain type of personality that would connect better to certain types of clients, hire someone with that personality. If your team contains more than one “type”, ask them to make an effort to learn from and incorporate sales strategies of those on the other side of the spectrum
3. Push yourself out of your comfort zone.
If you’re an introvert, think of ways you can incorporate some extroversion into your daily interactions (e.g. going to and participating in networking events). If you’re an extrovert, vice versa (e.g. asserting less and listening more).
The truth is, you don’t have to be hiring a sales team to take advantage of this advice. Whether you’re selling a product, an idea, or yourself, try for a good balance between pushing and holding back, talking and listening, friendly small talk and in-depth conversations. At the least, it’ll help you build stronger and more trusted relationships. At most, it will help you sell more.
Given what you just read, which category do you fall into? Are you more of an extrovert, introvert, or ambivert? Comment below and let me know!