There is a myth in business that extraverts are better salespeople.
For decades companies have assumed that “the talkers” are naturally oriented for selling. Their ability to connect with people, spark up conversations, and engage with other humans gave them a perceived competitive advantage.
The research has proven otherwise. Being highly extraverted is not a predictor of success. Actually, a high degree of extraversion can work against you.
Three degrees of extraversion
This week I had the opportunity to see Dan Pink, author of Drive and To Sell Is Human, speak (he was amazing).
He shared a fascinating insight: ambiverts are better salespeople than both introverts and extraverts.
I never heard the term “ambivert” before, so I did a bit of research. As with everything in life, people are not black and white. Being an introvert or an extravert are at two ends of the spectrum.
The vast majority of people fall somewhere in between: ambiverts. And these are the people who excel in sales.
Ambiverts outperform the extraverts
The research Dan Pink shared came from Adam Grant, a Wharton professor and author of Give and Take.
Adam conducted a comprehensive study of sales professionals, and found extraverts performed only marginally better than introverts.
In the chart, Adam demonstrates that the more introverted or extraverted a person is the lower their overall sales performance will be.
Adam writes, “Because they naturally engage in a flexible pattern of talking and listening, ambiverts are likely to express sufficient assertiveness and enthusiasm to persuade and close a sale but are more inclined to listen to customers’ interests and less vulnerable to appearing too excited or overconfident.”
It’s a question of balance. Ambiverts can listen and talk, and they adapt better to the needs of their customers.
Assumption leads to hiring mistakes
The concept of ambiverts is new to me, but it brought up a crucial insight.
The world of sales is filled with myths and assumptions. Hiring managers assume extraverts must be better at sales, because they are more outgoing, gregarious, and persuasive. But the data proves otherwise.
It reminds me of the old saying, “When you ASSUME you make an ASS out of YOU and ME.”
Are you an extravert, introvert, or ambivert?
Dan Pink offers a neat free assessment to indicate if you are an extravert, introvert, or ambivert.
Take the survey and share your results in the comments. What is your level of extraversion? Were you surprised with the results? If so, why?