Have you ever heard the assumption that extroverted people work better than introverted ones, and they are the ones who can achieve outstanding performance?
Yes, there are many people around us who think this way. They believe that since extroverted people enjoy the company of others and are keen on talking, they might be more successful. The key to success: the extroverted employee – they state, therefore it is worth hiring them. Particularly in sales, many corporate executives believe that success (or in other words, sales) comes from the extroverted personality trait.
Is this really the case? Is the confident, communicative and persuasive extrovert person able to achieve more?
The relation between the two may not be that obvious. Let’s find out, why.
When ‘direct sales’ was born, customers had less experience in rejecting manipulative salespeople. At that time it was easier to sell applying persuasive or even aggressive behavior. This has changed somewhat recently, as customers have become more aware of sales tactics. Such tricks are, for instance, when the sales representative asks a question for which you have to answer affirmatively, meaning replying ’yes’. For example:
’Have you ever felt that you don’t want to do too much housework but would rather spend more time with your family?’
The psychological background to provoking a ’yes’ answer is that if you initially agree with something, you are likely to respond positively later, too. Therefore, you will buy the product.
Another example is the question where the seller immediately tries to arrange an appointment. For example:
’Which would be suitable for you for a personal discussion: Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning?’
The reason behind this tactic is that if the sales agent would only be on finding out whether or not you are available, he would be more likely to be rejected. This is because this question gives an option for the customer to step back. The seller’s intention is to convince the buyer to consider immediately which date would be better for him/her.
Psychologists have been keen on finding out how the success of sales relates to personality, and whether extroverts can really do better than introverts. A few years ago, a research examined 300 employees who were tasked with selling a particular product over the phone.
What was the result? It turned out that most of the revenue was not earned by extroverts, but not even by introverted employees either.
Those who were most successful belonged to the ambiverted group. (Ambiverted is a person if he or she stays somewhere within the spectrum of personality traits of extroversion and introversion. Read our related article here.)
The ambiverted sellers could achieve outstanding sales results because they listened to the customer carefully. Moreover, they proved to be flexible, and did not seem too confident compared to some extroverts. They are happy to communicate with others, also they do it without forcing their will on the prospective buyer. These traits are positive attributes for the future customers, as they do not feel being forced aggressively by all means.
All in all, you can conclude that it is not necessarily the extroverted ones who are most successful in sales (or in case of other jobs).
Of course, it would be a mistake to generalize and state that only one particular personality type may work successfully. The key to success: the extroverted employee? This question shouldn’t be a debate any more. We are all different and there can be significant differences within each personality group. Still, managers and executives need to consider whether it is really the best strategy to prefer extroverts when hiring a new employee. It is also worth analyzing what tools organizations have in order to provide training or development programs to extroverts that can help them achieve the same results as their ambiverted counterparts.
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