Sales – It’s Not Really for Extroverts

Sales - It's Not Really for Extroverts, bluefeet blog post by Lilli Cloud

I once had a friend who shuddered and eeewed when I mentioned my father had been a salesman. Sadly, many people have this reaction to sales.

In bluefeet workshops, we say: “it’s not selling, it’s sharing,” because so many people have an aversion to selling themselves. But you have to tell people what you have to offer, otherwise they won’t know.

Along comes Daniel Pink with To Sell is Human. I find myself recommending this book in many settings:

  • to a group of environmental affairs people who need to persuade their company that going green will benefit their business;
  • to a group of Six Sigma professionals who need to persuade their organization to adopt new ways of working that will, in the long run, make everyone’s life better;
  • to executives in the middle of a career transition.
  • Pink debunks the myth that sales means something akin to the stereotype of the used car salesman:

1) That pushy style doesn’t work in a transparent world.

2) We’re all selling something, even if it’s vegetables to your child or a major purchase to your spouse.

One of the most surprising things about the book is that extroverts do not make the best sales people – ambiverts do. Yes, there is a category of in-betweens, equally extrovert and introvert, and that includes me. Finally, there’s a word for what I am.

I first heard about ambiverts in Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking. I’d never thought of it this way, but she says we ambiverts have the best of both worlds – we’re comfortable being in groups and we also enjoy solitude.

According to Pink, ambiverts make the best salespeople because they’re the Goldilocks of personalities – not too loud or pushy, not too quiet or shy. They’re just right because they can listen and speak, in balance and harmony with the other person.

Want to know where you fit in? Take Pink’s quiz or Susan Cain’s.

And stop selling yourself short by not selling yourself at all.