When someone says “sales rep”, what type of person do you imagine? You might think someone who is talkative, aggressive, persuasive, or even pushy.
There are many stereotypes about the type of people who thrive in sales, but often, the list describes a person who is by definition extroverted. It makes sense logically, since inside sales reps must constantly talk to strangers on the phone and convince them to buy a product they may never have heard of before.
However, extroverts are not the only personality type that can succeed in sales — introverts also bring equally valuable skills to the table. The talents of introverts are often undervalued and dismissed unfairly by sales managers everywhere.
As a sales manager, it’s often tempting to hire the same type of extroverted person over and over again for a sales role. However when you pigeonhole the types of personalities you believe succeed in sales without giving introverts their due, it’s a missed opportunity. Here are the strengths and weaknesses of introverted and extroverted sales reps — and why you should hire a solid mix of both.
The Introverted Rep
One of the biggest generalizations about sales is that it’s all about talking. In fact, the best sales reps should be just as talented at listening. This is one of the introvert’s natural talents. Instead of talking a lot themselves, introverts encourage others to share information by asking the right questions, and then listening closely and understanding what the prospect really wants and needs from the rep. This makes selling the right product at the right time to the right person much easier. As Alen Meyer, author of Selling for Introverts put it, “Introverts are quite adept at letting clients talk around them. So, we ask many questions. Just asking questions, understanding, and getting the key information versus pitching and pushing towards clients—that’s what makes it easier for introverts to be successful, especially in 21st century selling.”
Introverted reps often build deeper and more long-term relationships with prospects because of their skilled listening. They don’t just create surface-level business relationships in the way an extrovert would — once they connect, it lasts. Introverts are also often highly self-motivated, and don’t do as well when micromanaged. An introverted will happily push themselves, and need less support and time investment from you as a manager.
For introverts that are new to selling, just picking up the phone to start dialing can be a daunting task. Introverts are naturally less comfortable with talking to prospects and selling to them directly. As a manager, you have to offer the right training and encouragement to help introverted reps overcome their reluctance to engage over the phone with strangers. Push them to step outside their comfort zone, and most introverts will be able to move past this boundary.
Introverts not only have trouble talking with prospects, they can sometimes have trouble connecting instantly. Introverts often take a little more time to warm up to someone, and can struggle to build an instant rapport with a prospect on the surface level. However, as mentioned before, once they are able to connect, they build stronger and longer-lasting business relationships.
The Extroverted Rep
Extroverts are often great at sales for exactly the reasons you’d expect: they’re naturally good at meeting new people, networking, and making business connections. This is not a skill that has to be a taught, but rather a natural talent that your company can exploit to drive revenue. Extroverts may meet someone at a networking event and turn a 10 minute discussion into a business opportunity with ease.
They are also able to quickly adapt to the daily demands of inside sales, and are happy to call people on the phone to chat anytime. Extroverts can often instantly find common ground with a new prospect, building rapport and relating to them on a personal level. By combining a friendly rapport with easy conversational skills, extroverts often find it easy to close a deal with a brand new prospect.
However, where introverts often excel, extroverts often struggle. You may have to train extroverted sales reps more thoroughly on the sales process, and work harder to keep them on track with tasks like inputting data into the CRM. You should focus on training them on sales process, and offer a little more management and guidance for extroverts in this area.
Similarly, because extroverts are more social and focused on networking, they can be easily distracted or forget about the end goals. Based on the friendly bonds extroverts tend to build with prospects, they may avoid pushing too hard for a solid timeline on a deal, or don’t want to drive too hard a bargain when negotiating. Make sure you keep extroverted reps focused on the goals of the business at all times, and don’t get too caught up in the social aspect of sales.
Build a Strong Team With the Best of Both Worlds
As you can see, both introverts and extroverts offer powerful skills that can apply to different sides of sales roles. As you build out your sales team and hire more and more reps, don’t hire the same type of person over and over again. Though extroverts often dominate sales, introverts can be trained to become persuasive, thoughtful sales reps that can close just as easily.
By hiring a mix of both introverts and extroverts, you’ll see a greater variety of deals closing, and see surprising sales results.