Dan Pink Hits and Then Misses the New Key to Sales Performance

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 05, 2013 @ 22:02 PM

personalityYou probably haven't read this article by Dan Pink (thanks to Craig Ruhland for sending me the link).  Pink points to research showing that extroverts and introverts are not as successful in sales as ambiverts, the people in the middle of the scale between both extremes.  Our research at Objective Management Group (OMG) would support this "discovery".

Dan also writes that because the majority of all people are ambiverts, most of us were actually born to sell.  Whoa.  Our research doesn't support that!  Our research clearly shows that 10% of the people, who are already in sales, shouldn't be selling, and another 22% can't be trained to improve their performance.  So, if 30% of the people, who've chosen to sell, aren't well-suited for sales success, how can "most people" be born for sales success?

Why do brilliant people, like Dan Pink, look at research and then reach faulty conclusions?   

The study sited ambiverts, but those ambiverts had already chosen sales as a career and were already the most successful salespeople in the company.  Were they successful because they were ambiverts or was it something else?

We already know, and have plenty of data that shows, that extroverts (people who talk too much, listen too little, and most significantly, have a tremendous need to be liked) are generally ineffective.  On the other hand, extroverts, who have overcome their need to be liked, developed their skills and learned to listen and ask questions, can become great salespeople.

We also know that introverts (people who are shy and need to be liked) are also ineffective.  However, introverts, who don't need to be liked, generally have better listening and questioning skills, and when they do speak, it's usually to state something quite important.

I'm not familiar with the software company which was the subject of the study cited by Dan Pink.  However, it's more than likely that a few other conditions may have led to the ambivert results.  I'll share some of the possibilities here:

  • The company sought and selected middle-of-the-scale salespeople.
  • The company provided quality training and ambiverts were more able to apply it.
  • The ambivert salespeople were assigned to manage existing accounts since they were the most likable. With an existing revenue base and moderate growth, they easily could outperform the extroverts who were charged with finding new business.
  • The introverts may have been highly-technical salespeople - a group who is generally much less effective than nontechnical salespeople.
If you've been reading my blog for a while, then you know how I feel about the importance of assessments which predict a candidate's success probability and evaluations which identify sales performance issues and recommend development.  You would also know that I don't believe in personality assessments or behavioral-styles assessments and Dan Pink's article doesn't change anything.
Read the best ever article comparing assessments, but you must click on the 3 links to get the entire story.
Download my White Paper on the Science of Salesperson Selection.
Register to attend my 45-minute, March 12 webinar on the "Magic Behind OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments".  10:00 AM Eastern Time (New York)

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales management, sales performance, dan pink, sales assessments, objective management group

Subscribe via Email

View All 1,850 Articles

About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave

Email Dave

View Dave Kurlan's LinkedIn profile View Dave Kurlan's profile


Receive new articles via email
 to the Blog on your Kindle 



Most Recent Articles


Top 50 Sales & Marketing Blogs 2021

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee





Top 50 most innovative sales bloggers


Hubspot Top 25 Blogs





Free Tools

Sales Process Grader

Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial

Sales Ghost Calculator

Sales Force Grader

Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator

FREE Recruiting Process Grader