Sales Leadership Competencies – Extrovert or Introvert

by | Feb 7, 2023 | Sales

This month I’ll continue to write about personality traits, focusing on whether a person is an extrovert or an introvert.

The definition of an extrovert is, “Someone that gains energy in a crowd,” which describes me to a T! How do you feel around extroverts? Other extroverts love it. Introverts might be a little overwhelmed.

Introverts on the other hand gain energy when they’re alone, which can make the extroverts in the room uncomfortable.

Daniel Pink’s bestselling book, To Sell is Human, discusses how well extroverts and introverts do when selling. Since extroverts are more outgoing and typically more aggressive you would think they would do much better than introverts. They actually do sell better than introverts but only by a few percentage points. Both introverts and extroverts might be surprised by the slight difference.

How can this be?

If you look at the approach of each of these traits there is a stark difference in how they interact with customers.

According to Daniel Pink, extroverts are geared towards “responding”. This means that an extrovert would prefer to do the talking. That’s me and sometimes I hate it because the more I talk, the less I find out about the customer. Introverts on the other hand tend to “inspect”, meaning that they prefer to ask questions and put more focus on the customer. Extroverts like the spotlight to be on them. Extroverts tell, introverts ask.

In a sales conversation, the rule of thumb is that the customer should do the majority (60-70%) of the talking. Since introverts ask questions, they would have no problem getting the customer to do most of the talking. Not so with the extrovert. There needs to be a good balance between the salesperson and the customer and it needs to be a natural flow. You don’t want either a long-drawn-out presentation by the extrovert and or an interrogation by the introvert. Think about and practice how to find more balance.

Pink mentions that the ability to move customers hinges less on problem-solving and more on problem-finding. In other words, we should not be selling the product but the outcomes the product or service provides! The best salespeople don’t access information, they curate information by asking questions and uncovering possibilities. This is where the best salespeople shine. They find out more than their competitors allowing them to provide more value.

But here’s the key. Pink believes that the best salespeople are actually what you call “ambiverts”. These are people that fall in between the introvert and extrovert. They can respond when needed or ask questions when appropriate. Ambiverts do significantly better with their sales results than either extroverts or introverts.

How do you approach customers and prospects?

When you meet a prospect for the first time the best question to ask yourself is “who am I dealing with”? In other words, what is their personality style? In my latest sales book, The Relationship Selling Secret we explain the four different personality styles so you can begin to identify, “Are you a Blue, Green, Gold, or Orange?” Asking this question shifts your focus to understanding their personality style.

You want to understand:

  • Do they like to talk or ask questions?
  • Are they formal or casual?
  • Are they methodical or random in their approach?
  • Do they enjoy engaging in small talk or not?

Once you have a sense of their style, you need to tweak your behavior to support their personality. This builds strong rapport and gets them to open up. Ambiverts are the best at adapting to the customer’s style.

What we have seen with the four styles is that most of the time, the Green personality is introverted. They are curious and inquisitive and very comfortable asking questions. This could make the Orange personality uncomfortable, since Oranges tend to be extroverted the majority of the time and enjoy robust conversations with stories and small talk. You won’t get much small talk with the Green personality. Greens prefer details and Oranges prefer big picture. When you identify these characteristics, it gives you the opportunity to change your approach. Try to improve. Instead of small talk which is natural as an Orange style, ask questions. For the Green, try to develop some small talk.

The Blue and Gold personalities tend to be 50/50 on the extrovert/introvert scale. To identify a Blue remember that they are the relationship builder. They are warm and friendly and like to have a more balanced conversation. It would be easy for the Blue to adapt to being more of an Ambivert. The Gold also likes to have a balanced conversation. They are very agenda-oriented and like a conversation to be 50/50 in talking versus asking. The Gold conversation is likely about action and results. Their small talk is more of a cordial formality. They view it as the right thing to do.

On your next call, take yourself out of your style and be flexible and adaptable to your customers’ style. What is their preference and adjust accordingly. Building great dialogue is the mark of a successful sales professional.

Good selling!

©Stu Schlackman