Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

Extroversion and Sales Are Not Synonymous After All

Grant’s research found that the best salespeople are ones that straddle the line between introvert and extrovert, this is what Herbert calls an “ambivert.”

It’s common knowledge that the majority of salespeople are extroverts. They’re confident, personable and extremely social beings. However, in his Huffington Post article, “The Gregarious Salesman: Death of a Stereotype,” Wray Herbert brings this common knowledge into question. Do extroverts truly make for the best salespeople? Instead of fact, Herbert believes this notion is actually a myth. 

As Herbert points out, the outgoing salesperson has become a pop culture caricature in movies, television and the like, but not necessarily a truth. In fact, Herbert drew from the research of Adam Grant, a psychological scientist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Grant’s findings were that consumers are actually distrustful of overly charismatic salespeople. The results showed that these personality traits actually act as warnings for buyers that the salesperson is not only trying to sell them something, he is trying to trick them into buying something they don’t want or don’t need.

This is not a good thing. You can bet that a sale is over before it begins if the buyer already does not trust the salesperson due to the way they present themselves and interact with the customer.

In actuality, Grant’s research found that the best salespeople are ones that straddle the line between introvert and extrovert, this is what Herbert calls an “ambivert.” They’re not overly shy or excessively charismatic. They’re the best of both worlds — they can hold a conversation and relate to the buyer while also listening and understanding what the customer wants. According to Grant’s findings, these so-called in between personality types out-performed the extroverted (and introverted) sales reps every time.

So, like all good things, a career in sales requires balance. Charm will only get you so far, but if you push it over the edge, prospective customers will be deterred. The important thing is to balance charisma with a quiet introspection, so the customer knows you actually care about what they think and what they want, and not just your own bottom line.

This is also valuable information for ad managers. Since extroversion has become so ubiquitous with a good salesperson, they have hired accordingly. Take charisma into consideration, but don’t rule out applicants who perhaps are quieter — they might just become your star sales rep.