Are These the Best Roles for Shy People in Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 12, 2016 @ 06:05 AM

I received an email inviting me to review and share an infographic on shy people in sales.  Being an introvert myself, I thought it would be interesting to check it out and see if it resonated.  When I finally got around to reading it, I was surprised by several things I read...and I'm sure you'll be surprised too...

The infographic shows that introverts make up 57% of the population, but it doesn't say what percentage of the sales population is introverted...a striking omission.  I've written about introverts and extroverts before and this is one of the better articles.

They list 5 traits which, according to industry experts, typically make a good salesperson.  They include:

  1. self awareness
  2. assertiveness
  3. optimism
  4. empathy
  5. problem solving skills

They must have talked to the wrong experts because these personality traits are not predictive of sales success! Since the top tier of the infographic listed dimensions from the Myers-Briggs personality assessment, it shouldn't be a surprise that personality traits were used.  But why?  What's most important to know about personality traits is that both good and bad salespeople have them!

If you want to read about sales specific qualities of top salespeople, refer to these two articles:  Article 1 and Article 2.

Getting back to the infographic, it provides examples of sales careers that would be good for introverts.  Really?  If an introvert is suitable for sales, then why only certain types of sales positions?  The most absurd part of this infographic is the income they attached to each sales position.  They used a government website for the income research. It must have been as old as the research on the traits of successful salespeople - only worse!  The salary research must have been from 40 years ago!  Their top category, sales engineer, had a median salary of $96,000.  Today, that's close to the average compensation for salesperson across all industries.  Entry-level salespeople earn, on average, close to $70,000, but most of the salaries listed on the infographic were under $50,000!

I love a good infographic, even though most of the time the info part is made up!  They actually performed research for this one, but in my opinion, used bad sources.  Too bad.  It could have been really useful!

How about a shy millennial?  I don't have any data on that combination, but there is a very short video on managing salespeople who are millennials on the Selling Power YouTube channel.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales compensation, personality traits of successful salespeople, introverts in sales

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six 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.

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