Are Extroverts at a Disadvantage in Sales?

BY Tim Londergan
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Effective networking is foundational to a strong sales structure. In sales, networking is a necessary skill for finding new clients, establishing centers of influence and building a strong referral pipeline. Likewise, networking opens doors to decision-​makers and exposes you to a wider audience. With that in mind, who do you believe has the advantage in a selling situation?The charismatic extrovert who is dominant and assertive and is great at performing and presenting? Or the competent introvert who methodically considers their actions and conscientiously builds relationships? 

Tomas Chamorro-​Premuzic gives us the answers in his piece entitled “This is why extroverts can suck at networking and how they can be better.” Here's what you need to know.

What puts extroverts at a disadvantage in sales?

The times are changing, and the virtual world of sales is much more friendly to introverts than extroverts. For example, extroverts are at a disadvantage when they do not have the adrenaline rush supplied by the attention of others. Similarly, they may miss important cues about their behavior that could help them build strong relationships. Chamorro-​Premuzic reports that extroverts “…have a great initial window to make a positive impression, but in the long run, are more interested in getting others’ attention than in paying attention to others.” An excess of extroversion can make people overconfident, impulsive and arrogant which puts these individuals at a disadvantage in sales.

Three reasons extroverts are potentially at a disadvantage when networking:

1. Networking is about digital skills
2. Extroverts crave attention rather than pay attention
3. Extroversion's dark side

Networking. Where introverts rule

Stories abound about introverts who have flourished in the pandemic lockdown. Similarly, they relish escaping real-​world distractions as it provides the solitude needed to build their professional network. The shift to virtual communication is made-​to-​order for introverts. “Since networking depends on being competent rather than confident, methodical rather than impulsive or interpersonally assertive, and interested in others rather than being interesting to others, introversion is a bigger asset to networking,” says Chamorro-​Premuzic. In short, in a virtual sales environment that depends on strong professional networks, extroverts are a disadvantage.

Extroverts crave attention

Granted, strong networking skills are only one of many necessary sales skills. Top performing salespeople are persistent and focused on their customers. Also, they are enthusiastic, likeable, passionate, resourceful and able to create value. A good salesperson will sell their way into the job and that often requires an extroverted personality. Extroverts gain energy being around people and enjoy being the center of attention. By extension, they radiate confidence and assertiveness. Unfortunately, these qualities can be misinterpreted as being pushy and detrimental to building trust. In other words, these qualities can be a liability rather than a strength, putting extroverts at a disadvantage in sales. Uber-​extroverts who crave attention find themselves unfulfilled in a virtual sales world.

The dark side of extroversion

Overconfidence, impulsivity and arrogance are associated with extroversion, according to Chamorro-​Premuzic. He observes a paradigm shift in the United States and Western cultures away from celebrating extroversion. Consequently, it is okay to be introverted. “Only a culture that mistakes confidence for competence, and prefers hubris to humility, can end up so confused.” Of course, not all extroverts are guilty of being so assertive and impulsive that they ignore the feelings of others. However, overconfidence and a lack of filter can certainly put extroverts at a disadvantage in sales.

The article concludes with a quote from Dale Carnegie that extroverts should take to heart: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash