Hi! I’ve been considering starting a career in outside sales. I’m a super introverted guy in my early 20s and have no experience in this field. I think working in sales and having to talk to many different people can help me come out of my comfort zone and face my insecurities, which will definitely improve my personal life. Does anyone have a similar experience? Have you been able to change your social skills and become more extroverted thanks to sales? Do you think an introvert like me can find success in sales?
I’m an “introvert” as well and have built a career in sales over the last 10 years. In short, yes, an introvert can succeed in sales.
I highly recommend you find one or more free online personality “tests” to learn about yourself. Look at different types like the MBTI, DISC, and Enneagram. Use this information as leverage to (1) learn where your natural strengths may lie and what motivates you, (2) to identify where you can develop new skills so that areas you’re not strong in do not hold you back.
Do NOT use personality types to pigeonhole yourself into thinking you’re stuck the way you are or limited in what you can do!
Long-term success in sales is far more based on learned skills than personality. According to the MBTI, I am an ISFP. I’ve never seen a career match for ISFP and sales. I’ve had to learn A LOT, but have done well in sales. Message me directly if you want to chat more. Good luck!
Hey @Henry_Lane! First, I wanted to share with you that some of the best salespeople I have worked with are kind of introverts. In fact, introvert people are generally better listeners than extroverts, and that's a key skill in sales. Buyers love to be listened to: this makes them feel like you care for their needs. Having said that, chances are that if you're a great listener, you'll be more able to build long-lasting relationships with your customers and to close bigger deals. Also, standing out in sales doesn't mean that you need to be very loud to get your customers attention. There are many ways to stand out, one them can be through listening. I personally think it's not necessary to be an extrovert to succeed in sales, as long as you are confident.
There’s actually a study by the Wharton School of Business that found that people who fall in the middle of extroversion and introversion make the most successful salespeople. They analyzed results for different salespeople over a span of three months. Average hourly revenue for very introverted or very extroverted salespeople was around $120. The ”in-betweens” brought in more than $200! Here’s the link to an article about the study if you want to read more about it:
Anyone can be successful in outside sales, once you figure out your style. I’m a sales engineer, and work with plenty of highly intelligent and effective introverts. Most of them are in sales specialists style roles where they specialize deeply in a category of products. As long as you know your stuff, and can pull the information you need from your customer - you can be extremely successful.
I am an introvert myself, and I found that common introvert traits have really helped in my sales career. Introverts tend to be great listeners, which is an extremely important characteristic to have in sales. When a sales rep is too pushy or takes control of the meeting, it can drive away potential clients. In my experience, my ability to listen has made my clients feel comfortable and appreciated. Introverts also tend to excel at forming and maintaining relationships. Establishing such relationships with my clients builds trust between us. I think introverts can definitely pursue careers in sales if they use the traits they already have to their advantage.
I’m an introvert and also used to think I needed to be more outgoing to be better at sales, but I’ve found that we have lots of strengths to play at our advantage. For example, we’re naturally more composed and don’t come off as excitable, or just there to push a sale. This usually puts clients at ease and less defensive because they don’t feel like they’re being sold to. When I’m selling, I also focus way more on the details of the products than a perfect delivery, and I’ve found this makes selling to financial officers, engineers, or other buyers in technical fields easier because they don’t care much for (or are even turned off by) overly enthusiastic presentations. They’re definitely there for the mechanics of the product, and if you know your stuff, it makes selling a lot more efficient for both of you.