Sales jobs for introverts

Introverts in Sales |

Peter Vogt, Monster Senior Contributing Writer

If you're an introvert, you might dismiss pursuing a career in sales, believing it would be a horrible fit for your reserved, reflective personality. But that kind of thinking could make you miss out on a potentially lucrative career choice.

"Many of our most successful graduates, some of whom earn high-six-figure incomes, are introverts," says Jacques Werth, president of High Probability Selling, a sales training company in Media, Pennsylvania. "I'm an introvert, and I have had a highly successful sales career for almost 50 years.

Why Introverts are Good Salespeople

Werth is not alone, and for good reason. "The old stereotype of the salesperson who is a back-slapping, happy-talking extrovert is as obsolete as the sales techniques those people used -- and are still using," says Werth. "The new, far more effective sales paradigm is based on mutual trust, mutual respect, mutual agreements and mutual commitments.

It may surprise you, but the typical introvert has several key strengths that lend themselves to the day-to-day work of a sales professional:

  • Composure: Most introverts exude composure and self-control, both of which put potential customers at ease. "I have a calm mannerism," says Lindsay Peroff, a self-described introvert and the PR manager for 1-800-GOT-JUNK, a Canada-based junk-removal company, who pitches article ideas to journalists across the country daily. She is a true salesperson in that her salary is based on how many media mentions she generates for her company each month. "I do not come across as pushy, overly excitable or obnoxious," Peroff says.

  • Listening Ability: Peroff says she's also a good listener, another common introvert trait, notes New York City-based business communication consultant Nancy Ancowitz. "And how important is listening to the needs of customers and matching those needs to a product or service?" asks Ancowitz, who coaches fellow introverts on self-promotion strategies. "Would you prefer to buy a mutual fund from a salesperson or broker who carefully listens to your needs or one who talks while you talk and only pushes his own agenda?
  • Relationship Building: The typical introvert is a natural at the most critical sales skill of all: The ability to build relationships. That might seem ironic until you think about the idea more thoroughly, says Marti Olsen Laney, author of The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World.

    "Innies," as Laney calls introverts, "actually excel at building long-term relationships, so they do a great job of developing and maintaining a reliable customer base and/or territory," even more so than "outies" (extroverts), says Laney, who has counseled introverted sales professionals selling everything from books and cancer treatments to high tech training and technical-support services. And because "innies are good listeners who focus on both the customer's overt and underlying messages," they "tend to do a good job of satisfying what their customers really want," she adds.

    Sales strategist Leslie Ungar, president of Akron-based consulting company Electric Impulse, says, "Often we think of the used-car guy when we think of a salesperson. If you look at sales from what I call a 21st-century perspective -- asking questions and finding needs rather than talking someone into something, as telling rather than selling and becoming a peer rather than a vendor -- then you will look at sales through a different lens.

It Pays to Believe in What You're Selling

Introverts are particularly effective salespeople when, as is frequently the case, they have genuine conviction about their product, says Rob Bennett, author of Passion Saving: The Path to Plentiful Free Time and Soul-Satisfying Work.

"The [potential] problem with sales work for introverts is that introverts are uncomfortable putting forward any sort of false front or show," says Bennett. Therefore, he stresses, you can be highly successful as an introverted salesperson if you have "a strong belief in the value of the product or service being sold.

But first you must let go of a belief -- the one that sales is just for extroverts.

Learn more about sales careers.


How to Be in Sales as an Introvert

Hiring salespeople is a high-stakes game. The cost to replace a bad sales hire can average from $25,000 to $37,500, not to mention the less quantifiable damage to team morale and culture.

Conventional wisdom suggests that extroverts — commonly thought of as outgoing and sociable — would make better salespeople than introverts, who have been popularly represented as awkward in social situations.

The conventional wisdom is wrong.

First, it’s very rare that people are 100% extroverted or introverted. According to psychotherapist Marti Olsen Laney, introverts and extroverts are the extreme ends of the “energy continuum. ” Most people fall somewhere in the middle, and display a mix of introverted and extroverted tendencies even if they tend toward one side or the other.

Second, let’s clear up some misconceptions. Extroverts aren’t all social butterflies, and introverts aren’t necessarily shy. In fact, the extraversion-introversion divide isn’t about personality at all. The distinction is defined by where people get their energy from — other people, or solitude. Introverts gain energy by being alone, while extroverts are invigorated by social situations.

Third, research has shown that being extroverted doesn’t automatically translate into being a good salesperson. A meta-analysis of 35 studies that surveyed 4,000 salespeople found almost zero correlation (a statistically insignificant 0.07) between extraversion and sales performance. And on an individual level, both extroverts and introverts possess characteristics that contribute to their success in sales.

Let's explore the relative merits of both extroverted and introverted salespeople.

What makes extroverts good at sales?

Extroverts love being around other people.

There are zero sales positions where a rep can get away with never having to speak to a customer. Calling or meeting customers is part of the job, and because they’re energized by such interactions, sales reps who tend toward extroversion will find it easier to connect with prospects and customers every day.

They are animated and expressive.

Extroverts draw their energy from the external world, and also expend their energy on others. They are generally more demonstrative, speak more loudly, and gesture more than introverts.

Their enthusiasm is likely to inspire confidence in prospects and clients. Consider that we unconsciously mirror people’s behaviors and innately trust people who appear to be experts.

Small talk comes more naturally to extroverts.

You don’t have to become a prospect’s best friend to sell to them, but being able to relate to your prospects outside of their business is beneficial.

“When I speak to a prospect for the first time, I ask them how they’re doing,” says Dan Tyre, a sales director at HubSpot. “I try to establish human rapport before conducting business.”

Small talk comes naturally to extroverts, but can be “intimidating, boring, or exhausting” for introverts, according to Medical Daily reporter Lecia Bushak. Some level of small talk will always be inevitable during sales calls, and the experience will be more pleasant for extroverts.

Can introverts be salespeople?

The short answer is, yes you can be a successful salesperson as an introvert. Being effective in sales comes down to learned skills, not personality type.

Here’s what HubSpot's Flora Wang, Associate Product Manager, says about her experience working in sales as an introvert.

“When I joined sales I thought being an introvert would hold me back because I wasn't the outgoing extrovert that I perceived all salespeople to be. I realized that in order to sell to everyone, I had to adapt my style to different audiences. Some of the prospects I sold to were also introverts and appreciated my straightforward and thoughtful approach.

In addition, as an introvert, I am an active listener which benefitted me in sales. Prospects commented on how I well remembered certain details of their software setup or their business structure and I was able to provide a more personalized experience.”

Let's discuss why introverts make good salespeople.

What makes introverts good at sales?

They’re naturally deep thinkers.

According to Olsen Laney’s book The Introvert Advantage, research shows that a neural signal within an introvert’s brain follows a longer path than in an extrovert’s, suggesting that more mental connections are made when introverts are asked questions.

In sales, critical thinking is crucial. Being able to anticipate objections and thoughtfully answer questions is essential for a consultative salesperson, and introverts’ natural ability to think deeply is an advantage.

Introverts make great listeners.

It’s essential that prospects feel heard. A salesperson who won’t let a prospect get a word in edgewise or steamrolls past objections won’t be successful.

Introverted salespeople don't feel the need to dominate a conversation simply because they like the sound of their own voice. Instead, they’ll sit back and let a prospect talk through their problems before offering measured advice.

According to HubSpot's own David Weinhaus, strong listening skills are a must-have for successful sales reps.

"As an introvert, one of the things I pride myself on is being able to listen well. Selling before fully understanding a prospect's need for change is tempting but ultimately results in pitching, not helping. I've found that Introverts, who often have a drive to listen and understand, are successful at avoiding this trap," he says.

If you identify as an introvert, here are some tips to help you hone in on your strengths to succeed in sales.

Tips for Introverted Salespeople

  1. Leverage your soft skills.
  2. Focus on one-on-one conversations.
  3. Don’t rely on cold-calling.
  4. Allow plenty of time for research.
  5. Use your CRM.
  6. Practice, practice, practice.
  7. Give yourself time to recharge.

1. Leverage your soft skills.

If you aren’t familiar with the term, soft skills are described as your ability to communicate and genuinely connect with those you speak to. Your ability to sell depends on how effective you are at connecting with others. Though introverts often recharge and get their energy through alone time, their ability to actively listen and give others their undivided attention is beneficial for building the trust needed to close the sale.

2. Focus on one-on-one conversations.

While those who identify as introverts may not feel comfortable or energized working the room at a networking event or giving presentations in front of large groups of people, they are often more comfortable in intimate situations where they can have deeper one-on-one conversations.

From a sales standpoint, this can be a major strength. When selling consumer products, or complex goods that have a long sales cycle dependent on relationship selling. If you identify as an introvert, aim to take on roles that allow you to have sales conversations with individuals, rather than groups.

3. Don’t rely on cold-calling.

When a sales rep conducts outreach by picking up the phone and calling a prospect they don’t have a previous relationship with, it’s considered a cold call. For decades, cold-calling was believed to be the most effective way to begin the sales process.

Today, with social media, and CRM data, among other resources available to reps, cold-calling is no longer the effective lead generation activity it once was.

Introverts, rejoice.

If the idea of calling up a prospect you have never talked to before and asking them to buy your product makes you shudder, do not worry — there are other effective ways to engage with a prospect that may help you feel more comfortable and successfully land the sale.

As an introvert, when you are prospecting you may find greater success conducting personalized social media outreach, or creating an informative prospecting email sequence to engage with inbound leads.

4. Allow plenty of time for research.

If you identify as an introvert, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to conduct proper research before reaching out to prospects. Build confidence before hopping on a call or giving a presentation by showing up fully prepared with as much information about your prospect and what they’re looking for as you can.

Start by seeing what information about your prospect is available to you in your CRM. Here are a few pieces of information you may want to look for:

  • What articles they’ve read on your website.
  • What emails or newsletters from your company they’ve opened.
  • Past purchase information.
  • What territory the prospect falls in.
  • Whether the person you’re meeting with is a gatekeeper, influencer, or decision maker.

Equipping yourself with as much information as possible can help put you at ease with the interactions ahead.

5. Use your CRM.

When used effectively, your CRM software can help automate some of your interactions, alleviating some of the pressure introverts may feel to remain in constant communication with their prospects.

Using automation, you can schedule email follow-ups, proposals, and schedule meetings, all behind the comfort of your screen.

6. Practice, practice, practice.

Though introverts may not feel naturally inclined to reach out to or engage with customers, these tasks become easier to do with practice.

Enlist a colleague or friend to practice having sales conversations with, or practice presenting to before going in and speaking with prospects to help you feel more comfortable.

7. Give yourself time to recharge.

Last but certainly not least, introverts who work in sales should be intentional about giving themselves time to recharge.

For those who identify as introverts, having downtime can be essential for remaining focused, energized, and at the top of their game.

Balance your schedule by performing more administrative tasks and downtime to give yourself a break from interacting with others as needed.

None of these behaviors, of course, are exclusive to extroverts or introverts. Rather, they’re simply easier for people who fall on either side of the energy continuum to adopt.

Ambiverts: The best salespeople of all?

A study by Wharton School of Business professor Adam Grant found that ambiverts — individuals who fall roughly in the middle of the extraversion and introversion scale — are the most successful salespeople.

Grant used a personality assessment ranking salespeople on a scale of one (most introverted) to seven (most extroverted). A three-month study found that on average, introverts (ones and twos) and extroverts (sixes and sevens) brought in around the same average hourly revenue — $127 and $115, respectively.

The most ambiverted reps (fours) pulled in $208 an hour. Ambiverts that ranked between a 3.75and 5.5sold an average $155 per hour for their companies.

The takeaway? One's personality type doesn't necessarily dictate success in sales. Those with both introverted and extroverted tendencies can be successful. 

Topics: Personality Types

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Top 10 Jobs for Introverts: Recruiter's Tips

If you're an introvert, you probably have a very different idea of ​​your dream job than most people around you. Why the majority? Because there are only a third of people like you in society, say American psychologists Kroeger and Tusen in their book On Personality Type. What job suits you best? We asked an expert in the field HR.

Valentina Pakuleva, account manager from a recruiting agency

Coleman services

in those professional areas that require overcoming the introversion of character.

What kind of activities can be considered the most comfortable for an introvert? Definitely those that minimize the need for interaction (personal or telephone) with unfamiliar or unfamiliar people. Crossing the threshold of a new office, getting used to the company's staff, creating a familiar daily routine for yourself, albeit with deadlines and hands-on jobs, but not requiring interaction with strangers, is one of the most acceptable options. Introverts are less likely to change jobs, because it is quite difficult to independently initiate a change in the usual rhythm of life.

We have compiled a list of the best jobs in which an introvert can prove himself without the need for active interaction with the outside world:

1. Work at home . This includes absolutely any area of ​​professional activity, the main thing is that a person who is accustomed to reducing communication with others to a minimum can communicate with these others, but in a familiar and comfortable environment. As they say, houses and walls help. You can communicate with clients or customers by e-mail or, in extreme cases, by phone. However, the familiar home environment in this case minimizes the stress factor. Another thing is that not all people (regardless of personality type) have the level of self-organization necessary to work at home.

2. Copywriting, rewriting, blogging, writing . Introverts are creative people. Each person has a need for self-expression, a desire to be heard, but it is often easier for introverts to convey their thoughts in writing than when communicating with an audience “live”.

3. Working with databases . There are a number of organizations where much attention is paid to filling in internal databases and updating the information contained in them. The work is mechanical and requires a high concentration of attention, but it minimizes the need to interact with external sources of information.

4. Analytics . In fact, in any field of activity, an important block is occupied by analytics - marketing, sales, finance, logistics. If you are interested in a specific professional area, you can delve into the analytics of this department - work on the fundamental tasks of analyzing external and internal factors and indicators, as well as developing strategies for bringing the direction to a qualitatively new level. The work is algorithmized, but not without a creative component.

5. Accounting . It is considered one of the most standardized professions. Key actions are determined by accounting and are clearly regulated by law. It should be noted that at the same time, work in the field of accounting is, in principle, associated with a high level of stress, in addition, there are a number of areas that require constant involvement in interaction with external contractors and services (suppliers, contractors, banks, tax, audit companies).

6. IT . Perhaps everyone is familiar with jokes about IT professionals living in their own world and communicating with others in the language of numbers and codes. All this forms a certain idea of ​​the profession as a whole. For an introvert, IT specializations can be an excellent professional outlet, and most importantly, interesting, as well as highly paid. It should also be noted here that the IT sphere is very versatile: there is a support service for external and internal users (especially the first line of support), system administrators, external consultants who are in constant and often emergency interaction with the customer.

7. Laboratory . A concept that is also associated with various fields of activity - a research laboratory can be at some scientific department, or it can be located in a medical institution. In any case, the flow of information from the outside world comes in the form of data or materials that need to be studied.

8. Scientific activities . In general, the item is quite similar to the previous one, but can be associated with a large external interaction (for example, sociological or psychological research).

9. Technological specializations. Chemists-technologists, process engineers, technical specialists are in great demand in production. These are people who develop new recipes, control the quality of incoming raw materials, own the methodology for processing products, analyze the results, the causes of defects. In some cases, such activities involve communication with suppliers or customers, require product presentations, but in most cases, the work involves the algorithmization of the creative process within a manufacturing enterprise.

10. Art. As mentioned earlier, creative activity for an introvert is a way of self-expression and communication with the outside world, so any creative undertaking, if desired, can be developed into a profession.

One way or another, introversion is neither a diagnosis nor an indicator. Yes, it will not be easy for a person who is not prone to regular active communication to work at the reception, in the customer or user support service, make cold calls and sell products or services. But "difficult" does not mean "impossible"! Don't push yourself too hard, there are many positive examples of introverts who have made careers in law, HR, sales, PR, and marketing. The main thing is an interest in a certain field of activity and the ability to work on oneself, to engage in self-development.

After all, introverts are not people who can't communicate, introverts are people who can do without it.

8 tips on how to make it easier for an introvert to find a job —

For introvert job seekers, finding a job is a test. After all, you need to get out of your comfort zone, make contacts, attend interviews. Read on to find out how such candidates can use their personality traits and find a place in the labor market.

If a person is an introvert by psychotype, then he is characterized by concentration on his inner world. This is not a person who is shy or socially inept. It's just that he spends energy while in society, and accumulates it in solitude.

Introverts have a hard time looking for a job. The main problem is that it is difficult for them to establish superficial contacts and quickly process incoming information. They don’t send out resumes to many job openings, they rarely write cover letters, and interviews can be a real challenge for them.

At the same time, people with this type of personality are excellent workers who have every chance to build a successful career, if not fast-paced. They are laconic, thoroughly approach the fulfillment of the assigned tasks, work slowly, but with high quality. Such specialists delve into the essence of the problem and are in no hurry to make rash decisions. They show the ability to be creative, they have a well-developed memory and analytical abilities. has collected tips to help introvert job seekers make their job search more comfortable.

1. Choose the right path and vacancies

It is important for an introvert (preferably still in his youth) to choose a field of activity in which communication with people is minimized. He will feel in his place in a position, for example, an analyst, accountant, auditor, designer, programmer, veterinarian, research scientist.

And the professions of a sales representative, public relations manager, salesperson and other positions related to communication will devastate both physically and mentally.

The right solution is to find a job that will give the introvert the opportunity to use their strengths and send out resumes to relevant vacancies. Don't forget the importance of cover letters.

2. Agree and train

When an introvert is invited for an interview, it is likely that his first thought will be: "Maybe not to go ...". He has the right to think so, but he is obliged to accept the invitation, and then proceed to training.

How? Go to as many interviews as possible. This will provide an opportunity to find out exactly what hiring managers are asking, what questions confuse the applicant. You can ask someone from your family or friends to be an imaginary HR manager. Let him conduct a fictitious interview, ask questions in random order, and the introverted applicant practice answering them smoothly.

3. Write it down

Introverts are not endowed with the talent of self-presentation, it is difficult for them to talk about themselves and their achievements at the interview, they do not know how to sell themselves in the labor market. But that doesn't mean they don't have anything to share. “Why repeat? they think. “After all, all my successes are reflected in the resume.” Moreover, during a conversation, introverts get lost if they feel that they are incompetent in a particular issue. And they are stingy with descriptions - personal assessments, clarifications, the need to show emotions create great difficulties for introverts.

Sound familiar? There is a good method of how to systematize and remember information, and at the right time to get it out of the storerooms of memory. Prepare carefully. Get a special notebook in which you write down in detail all the professional data about yourself. Give extended answers to recruiting questions, describe your achievements, strengths and weaknesses, hobbies. When you write, you remember information better. And you will always have a cheat sheet at hand, which you can look into if you forgot something.

4. Use the internet and social media

Social media can influence your career. The fact is known. An introvert needs to make the most of blogs, forums, and other remote ways to contact potential employers. The format of communication on the World Wide Web makes it possible to think and choose the right words. At the same time, the interlocutor remains on the other side of the monitor, which eliminates the tension that occurs during personal communication.

Post your resume on job search sites. Send him to selected vacancies, find out from the recruiter about his fate by e-mail, look for a section with vacancies on company websites and fill out questionnaires right there.

5. Offer to interview remotely

If you are an introvert, then the ideal interview option for you is by phone or Skype. When you are invited to interview with an employer, find out if it is possible to conduct an interview remotely.

By the way, introverts are not prone to improvisation, so a call from a recruiting manager can take them by surprise, lead them into confusion. If this also happens to you, then do not hesitate to tell the interlocutor that you will call him back in a couple of minutes. During this time, gather your thoughts and find a summary with prepared theses.

6. Stay connected throughout the meeting

Of course, an introvert cannot completely eliminate personal contacts. He will need to go to the company's office to talk with a recruiter or employer. And already in the first seconds of the meeting, it is important to try to make a good impression. That is, be friendly, smile, shake hands with the interlocutor.

However, it is not so difficult to focus on these points, but it is more difficult for an introvert to remain interested throughout the conversation. He will get tired before the interview is over.

Therefore, control yourself all the time, be here and now from the moment you crossed the threshold of the office until the farewell handshake.

How an introvert should behave in an interview in order to retain attention:

  • "mirror" the interviewer - unobtrusively copy his gestures, posture, tone and tempo of voice;
  • look into the eyes of the interlocutor;
  • do not twist the pen, ring in your hands, do not wring your fingers;
  • avoid long pauses in conversation;
  • peep into a notebook with prepared abstracts or make notes.

7. Ask questions

Introverts like to listen more than they talk.

Learn more