Introverts Do It Better

Throughout my career I have encountered stellar salespeople and snake oil salesmen. The difference between them is like night and day. Snake oil salesmen are the salespeople who are in your face, pushing you to buy. They cajole, convince, persuade, and strong arm their way into a sale. They are pushy and loud, not only in their voice but in their behavior.

good listener

They are selling hard because they are always selling. They don’t build relationships so they have to be hunting all the time. They are on the extreme end of the extrovert continuum.

Then we have stellar salespeople. These folks understand they are matching a solution to a need. They build relationships and seek to understand where the prospect is before they offer their solution. They have long term clients and receive referrals regularly. At networking events, they ask a lot of questions and share very little about their product or service.

Stellar salespeople share a lot of characteristics with introverts. The February 6, 2012 cover story for TIME Magazine talks about the “Power of (shyness).” The author, Bryan Walsh, mentions that:

“Introverts are better at listening – which, after all, is easier to do if you’re not talking.”

I submit that listening is the number one skill of an exceptional, stellar salesperson.  According to Bryan, introverts are “more cautious and deliberate than extroverts.” Introverts “tend to think things through more thoroughly, which means they can often make smarter decisions.”

Stellar salespeople don’t shoot from the hip; they don’t think they have a ‘one size fits all’ product or service. Instead, they take what they’ve heard from their prospect and they determine how they can help. If they can, they present a proposal that mirrors the need. If they can’t, they say so.

When introverts network, they spend their time getting to know one or two people. They don’t ‘work the room’ and hand their business card to everyone. Other people like to speak with introverts because the introvert is genuinely interested in them. The introvert would rather learn about someone else than talk about themselves. Once again, listening plays a key role.

Introverts build deep, lasting relationships. This is key to sales success. Maintaining lasting relationships with clients is far less costly than hunting for new ones. This is also where referrals can come from.

Because introverts are more deliberate in their processing, I submit they are probably viewed as more trustworthy; and trust is critical to sales. If we put all of these characteristics together we see the perfect model of a stellar salesperson – a trustworthy listener who builds lasting relationships and thinks things through to come to a meaningful solution.

All salespeople would do well to make sure they are embracing these characteristics and skill sets. After all, it’s never been about the salesperson; it’s always been about the prospect. When salespeople stop talking, start listening, and spend their time thinking about how they can help their prospect instead of what they can sell to someone, they will be stellar.

Follow the introvert’s lead – they come to it naturally.

Sales Concept Photo via Shutterstock


Diane Helbig Diane Helbig is a Professional Coach and the president of Seize This Day. Diane is a Contributing Editor on COSE Mindspring, a resource website for small business owners, as well as a member of the Top Sales World Experts Panel at Top Sales World.

11 Reactions
  1. The one thing that doesn’t often come naturally to the introvert is asking for the sale. Listening is great, but you’ve still got to recognize the opportunity and seize it when it presents itself. Even an introvert needs a little extroversion now and then.

  2. You should post this on some Introverts Booster Club page! Haha good points all, though. Some business people too often pass over introverts for extroverts because of common misconceptions and then regret it later.

  3. I agree with Robert. But, that said, I’m an extrovert and I’ve been leveraging the introvert “method” for years. A long while back I decided to simply remember that I have two ears and one mouth, probably for a good reason…

  4. Hey TJ, I never thought of leveraging the introvert ‘method’ – fascinating!

  5. As much as the above remarks might be statistically true, they do not determine that for instance, every extrovert is worse salesperson than every introvert.

  6. I’m an extrovert and as mentioned above you have 2 ears and 1 mouth, use accordingly, I find the introvert personalities don’t use the right proportion of Ear to mouth, while a self aware extrovert using the 2:1 listen to talk ratio is more effective at closing the sale AND building the relationship. As an outside sales guy, you also have to add the eyes to the equation. What you say needs to relate to what you saw and heard. The Extrovert is making eye contact, and is looking around the room/store/building.

  7. That’s great input Stephen. Thanks for sharing your viewpoint. Eye contact is tremendously important as is looking around at the environment.

  8. Business is about sales along with serving people, to serve better needs good understanding of prospects requirements and for that listening is crucial.
    selling products according to the customers need is what helps in creating company’s goodwill, because when a single customer comes to buy products or services he comes along with all his contacts which he is going to give you as referrals without your asking for so,condition to if he gets satisfied. Introvert qualities helps a lot in serving.
    But one point to be noted,to provide customer best of solution is more depend on the sales person’s character, an introvert may be deceive and an extrovert may be honest in providing solution or vice versa.
    So on in all to reach any conclusion over introvert & extrovert is lot more depended on other factors also.

  9. I have often wondered why I am in sales and more so why I am good at sales because I am an introvert. This article answers that question for me. The results we recieve are amazing when we look for ways to help others rather than the sale. My favorite part of marketing is networking. When I don’t have what a potential client needs I love sending them to someone that does. It always comes back to me one way or another.

  10. Tammy – you are the perfect example! and someone others should strive to be! congratulations and thanks for sharing.