Introvert, Extrovert, or Ambivert

Daniel Pink

Lesson time 07:41 min

Despite what you might think, extroverts are not the best salespeople. Discover what personality type actually sells best and how to cultivate that optimal mentality.

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Topics include: How to Develop Your Ambivert Skills · Become a Better Listener


[00:00:07.38] There's something that we need to clear up right away here. If you ask people who makes a good salesperson, they will invariably say "extroverts," and here's what we know from the research. Extroverts are more likely to go into sales jobs. Extroverts are more likely to get hired in sales jobs. Extroverts are more likely to get promoted in sales jobs. Seems like this bit of folklore is accurate. Except, when scholars have looked at the link between extroversion and sales performance, not who gets hired but who sells stuff, the correlation falls down to nearly zero. So does this mean that introverts are better sellers than extroverts? That would be very good news for some of us. Some of you think of yourselves as introverts, and you wonder, can I be effective at this? [00:01:05.96] There's a great piece of research out of the University of Pennsylvania that clears this up in a brilliant and spectacular way. Here's what they did. They went to a large software company. The large software company had a large salesforce. They measured the introversion and extroversion levels of everybody in the sales force, then the people went out and sold software. Six months later, they looked at the numbers. We know who the introverts are, we know who the extroverts are, we know how much everybody sold. What happened? Story is that the extroverts and the introverts were easily outperformed by another group. The group that did the best, the personality that it did easily the best, far in excess of the introverts and extroverts, were the ambiverts. If there was an advantage to a personality type, and there was and it was huge, the advantage went to the ambiverts. There's not an extrovert advantage in sales. There is an ambivert advantage in sales. [00:02:11.03] Which raises a question, what the heck is an ambivert? This is not my term. This is a term that's been in the literature since the 1920s. An ambivert is someone who is a little bit introverted and a little bit extroverted. They're not strongly one way or the other. Our understanding of introversion extroversion has been kind of corrupted. We think of it as completely binary. You're either an I or an E. When in fact, the way that academics measure introversion extroversion is really on a spectrum. It's really on a spectrum. And so what this research found was that very strong introverts were terrible at sales. They were the worst of them all. Makes sense, right? They don't like to assert themselves. They might be a little shy. But was also really interesting is that the very strong extroverts were also terrible. The people who were at the highest level of extroversion were very poor salespeople. And the scary part is, is that those are the people who often get hired. That you know the backslapping, glad-handing, "hey, buddy what can you do to put you in a Ford Fiesta today" kind of person. Those people were not very good. Why? They didn't listen. The people who did the best were the people in th...

About the Instructor

With four NYT bestsellers, Daniel Pink is an influential voice in the evolving landscape of sales and motivation. Now the author of To Sell Is Human teaches you science-backed principles for effective and ethical sales and persuasion. Learn tactics for achieving better outcomes in any interaction—at home or at work—and tools for framing your message, navigating cognitive biases, and pitching ideas, products, or yourself.

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Daniel Pink

NYT-bestselling author Daniel Pink shares a science-based approach to the art of persuading, selling, and motivating yourself and others.

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