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I had the honor of interviewing Daniel Pink, New York Times best-selling author of To Sell is Human. He discusses the power of sales and why most people have the ability to become master salespeople even if they believe selling is not for them.
Mo asked Dan:
“What’s your advice on the age-old advice that you have to be an extrovert to be good at selling?”
“I don’t really have an opinion on it because I have research to give us the answer to that question... Adam Grant did a study at the University of Penn… He went to a large software company of B2B sales in California, where they have a very large sales force.
He measured the introversion and extroversion levels of the people working in the sales force. Then they went out and sold software for a period of time. Then he looked at how much the introverts sold and the extroverts sold.
It turned out that the extroverts sold a little bit more than the introverts. Not a lot, just a little bit more, but that wasn’t the big takeaway. The real finding of this study is that the ambiverts did better than the introverts. The ambiverts did better than the extroverts.
What is an ambivert? An ambivert is someone who is introverted and extroverted. When we think about the two, it’s not binary, it’s not black and white. It’s a spectrum…
The study showed that the people that were extremely introverted, the people who would never go out to dinner and avoid it and call in sick, the super strong introverts who didn’t want to be around other people, were terrible at sales. I don't think that’s a big surprise.
It turned out that the super extroverted people… They were also terrible because they talked too much, listened too little, and were too aggressive. My interpretation of some of the research is that they were too concerned about being liked rather than actually solving problems or telling the prospect, “Hey, you know that may not work.”
The people who did the best were the people in the middle. A little bit introverted and a little bit extroverted. We know from the prefix what this means. Ambivert. Where do we hear this? Ambidextrous. You can go left or you can go right. The people who were the most effective at sales were these ambiverts because they were more versatile.
So, the idea that strong extroverts make better salespeople is not true!”
Dive deeper into the conversation with Dan Pink here.
We’re all in sales in some sense, whether we like it or not. Think about where you fall on the spectrum of extroversion, introversion, and ambiversion. How can you use that knowledge to become better at growth?
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