Categories Articles, Sales and Marketing

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.



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Showing 5 comments
  • Molly Owens

    Cara, you make some great insights that highlight the effectiveness of both personality types in the sales world. Some of the same points actually apply to Introverts and Extroverts in leadership, behind the sales team, as well.

    When you think of leaders, you typically think of outgoing, energetic Extroverts. However, an Introvert’s tendencies to listen and ask pointed questions make for great leadership qualities as well. Because they’re often introspective, they know their limits and feel comfortable empowering their team members to do their jobs. These qualities help Introverts build trust and strengthen their relationships with their team members.

    In the end, both types can be successful. The key is building a team that will feed off of the collective personalities and be productive no matter what the task.

    Molly Owens is the CEO of Truity, developer of the TypeFinder® personality type assessment and other scientifically validated, user-friendly personality assessments that connect people with powerful insights about their strengths, talents, and traits. Find Molly and Truity on Twitter and Facebook.

  • Cara Hogan

    Thanks for the thoughtful response, Molly! I completely agree. These same concepts apply to sales leaders as well as sales reps.

  • Alen Mayer

    Thank you for quoting me.
    It is important to talk more about the enlarging the circle (involving introverts more) and understanding that the sales training today is perfect for extroverts, it’s important to identify the positive traits that introverts can bring to the table, and how to mine them.
    As a sales manager, speak clearly with your introverts and with authority, but not anger. When describing a task, use specifics. When walking your introvert through a task, compartmentalize the various aspects of the tasks into blocks that he can process quickly–this involves trial and error–, and include examples of how not to complete a task. Smile and laugh enough to foster trust and to encourage your introvert to voice any concerns that he may have, but have your introvert mirror your instructions to ensure that your expectations are clear.

  • Sushil Tamang

    Rational judgement is to consider the dual personality traits to be defined in meeting the terms and requirements of the situation. However, the more of introvert nature, better at analytical part, but more of the extrovert nature, better placed at strengthening the PR. Too much sugar is alike bitter than sweet, same happens when the thresh hold limit of the one personality is exceeded with the core activities.

    Sometime, it’s Time to Stop Waiting and Listening and make the necessary amendments by persuasive and consultative up-selling.
    Sometimes, it’s Time to stop Talking and make more of the Waiting the true response from the clients and the real pain should be revealed by listening the true call from from their heart.

    We must consider the contentedness of the heart-share of the client with heart-share of sales reps, similarly, with mind-share also. Then, it’s about making smart contact, based on research, with highly relevant messaging focused on what matters to these clientele people (true targeted prospects).

    First off, if sales reps get in early, share ideas, insights and information (value priorities – primary ingredients, and secondary – offers, schemes, and attractive TOD’s) that would help them achieve their objectives. This then positions sales reps as a valuable resource – someone who is truly focused on their success. Sales reps will never be seen as just another self-serving salesperson aftermath. Plus, these reps will have a chance to develop relationships with key people, before they’re looking – and thus build a trust advantage. Finally, by getting in early, sales reps will be able to impact the decision criteria instead of just responding to it.

    Adaptive minds will then automatically reconsider the traits that will need to be trigger and hence the pressure of performance accountability will be no longer haunting on each of their interaction.

pingbacks / trackbacks
  • […] Sure, you could argue that some people are genetically designed to be more extroverted than others. But you don’t have to possess a certain chemical makeup to be an effective salesperson. Sales is more about hard work, strategy, and persistence than your gene pool. In addition, it’s not just one personality type that makes for a good rep. Introverts actually bring a lot to the table in the field of sales, and a successful team will be made up of a solid mix of both. […]

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