Based in Chicago, Omerisms is a blog by Omer Abdullah. His posts explore Ideas, perspectives and points of view across business, sales, marketing, life and (sometimes) football (the real kind).

The Myth of The Sales Extrovert

The Myth of The Sales Extrovert

Photo credit to  Duncan Hull

Photo credit to Duncan Hull

There's a common perception that successful sales executives are extroverted personalities. Loud. Gregarious. Walking with a swagger. Slick. Polished. Bling-laden. This is the stereotype.

When I see new (and sometimes old) salespeople, many believe in this persona and feel that that's what they need to be to succeed. That their true selves won't be perceived as sharp enough - with the underlying rationale that being an extrovert means you can more forcibly convey your message and convince the client to buy. That by being 'gregarious', people will naturally want to do business with you.

This is, of course, bullshit.

Sales isn't driven by the superficial, certainly not in the medium to long run. Clients don't commit their money to you because of your ability to 'pal around' with them. Certainly not (most) clients who have any material influence within their organization.

In fact, I would offer up that senior executives who make critical decisions, who influence the direction of their companies, who don't have time to waste, are put off by this stereotype.

No one likes to be sold to.

(I've always mistrusted the slick talker. The person who only ever said "the right thing". That's not human. That's not real. That's, frankly, a con.)

This isn't to say that appearances don't matter. They do (whether we like it or not). But they are hygiene factors and are not (shouldn't be) the main driver.

What matters more? Content. Listening, and not just waiting to talk. Developing an honest relationship. Preparation. Homework. Turning down work that doesn't make sense. Liking people. Understanding. Empathy. Genuinely being interested in and learning about others.

The most successful salespeople I have met span the personality spectrum. They have not all been gregarious, in-your-face types. Some have been, but that's who they were. And it came across appropriately.

The most successful salespeople have been real. Willing to listen and learn, yet with the confidence to expose their flaws, at times, self-deprecating. Always honest. Always to the point.

So don't buy the con. Pay more attention to first principles. Just be whoever you are. 

The Concept of Balance

The Concept of Balance