The stereotypical salesperson is talkative, persuasive, driven, and outgoing. In other words, extraverted. But is the stereotype right? What if the most successful salespeople are actually introverts?
I’ve suspected this may be true for a long time, but now there’s data to support it.
Objective Management Group (OMG), a Membrain partner, conducts over 75,000 assessments per year and has assessed more than 2.3 million salespeople. As a result, they own one of the largest and most in-depth sales industry data sets in the world.
So when OMG’s founder, Dave Kurlan, says there’s new insights available, I pay attention. Recently on LinkedIn, Kurlan announced this “shocking new data”:
“62% of the best salespeople in the world (top 5%) are introverts and 84% of the worst salespeople in the world (bottom 10%) are extroverts.”
In the same post, Kurlan says the “easy answer” to why introversion shows up so much in the top 5% of sales professionals is that introverts find it easier to take a consultative approach, “because they are so comfortable listening.”
Salespeople who succeed are those willing to dig in and learn everything they need to learn to do the job well.
I think this is especially true in complex B2B sales, where salespeople must be able to navigate complexity and stay focused over long periods of time to win the sale.
While extroverts can certainly be capable of all these things, the introspective, quieter personality of an introvert may make it easier to do so.
OMG’s data is a compelling argument for introversion in sales. However, it doesn’t say that ONLY introverts can succeed. After all, if 62% of top performing salespeople self-identify as introverts, that means 38% do not.
In reality, personality plays only a small part in sales success. It’s one of the truly great things about this profession: Anyone can do it if they want to badly enough, because salespeople are made, not born.
Of course having a general inclination to do the sorts of things that salespeople have to do helps, but ultimately it’s a profession in which the work and commitment you put in matters more than where you came from or the personality you bring to the table.
To become an outstanding complex B2B sales professional, individuals must master a broad range of skills including:
They must also develop resilience, persistence, and the willingness to be turned down and rejected over and over.
Being introverted might make a person more willing to stay in the business for the long haul, and it might make it easier for them to listen deeply and not make things about themselves.
But in the end, the salespeople who truly succeed in this business are those who are willing to dig in and learn everything they need to learn to do the job well. And whether they succeed has less to do with what they were born with, and more to do with what they choose to develop along the way.
What do you think? Do introverts have an advantage in complex B2B sales? What’s been your experience?
George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills, and processes. George is also the author of the book Stop Killing Deals and the host of the Stop Killing Deals webinar and podcast series.
Find out more about George Brontén on LinkedIn