When most people think of a sales rep, they envision an enthusiastic, energetic whirlwind of an extrovert, full of charm and conversation. And while it’s true that many sales professionals are extroverted, there’s also a surprising number of introverts among the ranks. What’s even more stunning – in some ways, they can outperform extroverts, and having introverts on your team might provide some unexpected advantages.
Alen Mayer, an expert on the subject of introverts in business who was ranked one of Sales Lead Management Association’s Top 50 Most Influential People in Sales, points out that introverts are exceptional listeners who value deep relationship building – making them ideal for organizations whose majority revenue comes from repeat business and long-term relationships with a core of highly valued clients. Industries that involve long sales cycles will also see benefits from introverts, who frequently have more patience and empathy than extroverts, and can tolerate the slow pace that comes with lengthy time spans from prospecting to converted sales.
Introverts often are analytical as a byproduct of their introspective natures. This allows them to consider problems and solutions from multiple angles and viewpoints, and see things that more outwardly-oriented individuals might miss. It may take a while for these insights to emerge – introverts spend a lot of time thinking, after all – but the long-term payoff is frequently worth it.
Caring for Your Introverted Sales Reps
Just as introverts bring unique and valued skillsets that differ from extroverts, so, too, will many introverted sales reps need to be managed differently from their more outgoing counterparts for optimized performance.
- Have them focus on a few key accounts where the relationship is an important aspect.
Arranging account emphasis in this manner allows introverts to play to their strengths and generate the most productivity for your sales team.
- Allow them alone time.
Because introverts’ batteries are prone to running low, it’s good to give them time alone to recharge. Working by themselves also allows introverts the space and breathing room to retreat deep into their interior world of thought and analysis – an escape that’s very difficult to make when Joe Chatterly is in the next cubicle yakking away to Jill Sunshine about how the BigCorp presentation went.
- Utilize a blended learning approach when training introverts.
Technology-based and blending learning solutions are on the rise. The Association for Talent Development noted in their 2017 State of the Industry that companies are increasingly interested in offering a diverse range of learning and development programs that have the flexibility to accommodate an array of different learning styles.
For introverts, it’s frequently blended learning solutions with strong self-paced technologies that generate the best results, allowing them the benefits of the live classroom environment while reinforcing the acquired knowledge with self-paced support. Giving teams autonomy by way of setting clear expectations and learning outcomes, then freeing them to meet the requirements is how sales managers can attain optimal knowledge and skills acquisition when their members consist of a mix of introverts and extroverts.
As you can see, there’s clear value in having introverts on your sales team. Their thoughtful and empathetic natures allow for close, meaningful long-term relationships with clients, they can frequently offer insights others miss thanks to their analytical skills, and, as Wharton professor Adam M. Grant discovered in his study of outbound-call-center representatives, introverts actually slightly out-performed their extrovert counterparts.