Marcel Brunel, Lumina Learning practitioner, Brunel Group
The goal of sales is to earn more than you cost. Ask someone to describe a successful salesperson and you’re likely to hear at least a few of the following: outgoing, affable, can talk to anyone, funny, social, quick-thinking, persuasive, good at giving presentations, energetic… all qualities we tend to attribute to a “great personality”.
But here’s the thing: personality doesn’t mean performance. Personality and performance are not intrinsically linked. And for a salesperson to be successful, to be “great,” they need to perform. The selling process is about what you do first and who you are second.
Certainly, the ability to talk to anyone, to persuade and to think on your feet (qualities associated with extraversion) can be helpful in a sales situation. Yet sometimes too much of a good thing can be, well, too much of a good thing. Talking gets in the way of listening. Over-energetic persuasion can turn a potential customer off. Quick thinking can beget premature solutions.
At the other end of the continuum from extraversion is introversion. Introverts are often viewed as quiet, shy and not particularly social, leaving them out of what is typically considered “sales material”. The reality is that introversion doesn’t necessarily mean quiet or shy. Introverts just occasionally need to re-energize through self-reflection and solitude. Extraverts, on the other hand, get their energy from social interactions and tend to feel less energetic with too much quiet time.
Because extravert qualities tend to be more idealized in our society (who doesn’t want to be described as having a great personality?) we often overlook the qualities that introverts bring to the table, especially when it comes to succeeding at sales. The good news is, we all have elements of both introversion and extraversion – we just tend to lean more toward one or the other based on the situation. Here are five introversion qualities that can contribute to sales performance:
They are thinkers, with strong powers of observation. This, combined with their listening skills helps them come up with well-thought-out, customer-specific solutions beyond the obvious.
They are “present”. In conversations, introverts focus their attention on the speaker rather than trying to multitask or interrupt. By listening more and talking less, they are more likely to get to and align with the customer’s goals, challenges and needs.
They understand the value of long-term relationships. Introverts tend to have fewer, deeper, more enduring relationships. Extraverts, on the other hand, often have dozens of casual connections spread across a number of networks.
They pay attention to details. Introverts are not comfortable with ‘winging it’. They do their research. They prepare. They anticipate potential customer resistance, and connect the dots through what they have learned by listening.
They keep their cool. Introverts rarely let their emotions get the better of them, especially in a business situation. Their quiet composure can put others at ease and keep conversations moving in a positive direction.
“Most people think “selling” is the same as “talking.” But the most effective salespeople know that listening is the most important part of their job.” – Roy Bartell
Author: Marcel Brunel, firstname.lastname@example.org
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