Introverts Make Great Salespeople, Too
“Salespeople are born, not made.”
“Only extroverts can win in sales.”
Have you heard these statements or something similar? Often in a sales career, would-be entrants and sales leaders set an eye of hopeful expectancy upon those who are either what I call “Chatty Cathys” (the people who have never met a stranger, the Influencer of the DiSC personality profile) or “Dominant Doms” (the people who can aggressively take charge of any room, the Dominant of DiSC).
But what about those who are not as outgoing? Are they simply relegated to the administrative and office tasks the Chatty Cathys and Dominant Doms of the team don’t want? Recent research suggests that how we train introverts will determine their ability to flourish as sales professionals.
WHO ARE THE INTROVERTED?
Based on the DiSC personality profile, the S (the Steady of DiSC) and the C (the Conscientious of DiSC) personality types typically are seen as more introverted. These are the “Stable Mables” (the people everyone can confide in and look to in times of chaos) and the “Careful Craigs” (the people who relentlessly make sure every “i” is dotted and every “t” is crossed) of our groups.
If you are familiar with DiSC, then you recognize no one is a singular personality but rather a hodgepodge of all four personality types. However, of the four personality types, typically one or two are the most prominent.
The most prominent personality type is usually how we see and label people. Yet, these prominent personality types may change in different situations or as one matures. Thus, instead of broadly categorizing everyone and every sales event by the DiSC personality profile, my research has isolated one phase of the sales process—lead generation (which includes prospecting and marketing). This has become known as Personality-Lead Gen. Fit.
WHY LEAD GENERATION?
As a national real estate educator and sales coach, it is apparent to me that a salesperson’s ability to generate leads is the starting point for sales success—this transcends market location and its highs and lows. Yes, salespeople must skillfully manage the other aspects of the sales process, including approach, presentation, handling objections, and follow-up, along with the contract-to-close activities. These latter aspects tend to have an array of training components available to sales professionals of differing personalities.
Lead-generation methods, on the other hand, tend to be taught more through extrovert-shaded glasses. For the introvert, this becomes the equivalent of sticking a square peg into a round hole, which just will not fit—at least not without damaging or reshaping the square peg. As a result, we as a sales community collectively see introverts as “not made” for sales. Furthermore, I receive daily inquiries from introverts who feel dejected, defeated, and unfit from this grueling process of learning lead generation only from the perspective of an extrovert. They have been told, “Only extroverts can win in sales,” and advised to find another office/career or to focus on supporting a team instead of selling. With an extrovert-focused viewpoint, such counsel may seem appropriate.
I conducted a DiSC personality study (http://aresjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.5555/1521-48126.96.36.199) that included a group of some of the top 1,000 residential real estate sales agents in the nation. There are numerous personality typing systems available; however, DISC is widely used and accepted in the real estate industry business area; has strong validity and reliability (Inscape, 2008, https://www.discprofile.com/DiscProfile/media/PDFs-Other/ResearchReportsandWhite Papers/DiSCClassicValidationResearchReport.pdf); and is known as one of the shortest assessments to take and easiest to administer.
Surely, the top sales agents in the nation— those who make $500,000 and more—would fit the extrovert paradigm, especially based on our extrovert-centric training environments. Amazingly, all four of the DiSC personality types were represented as the predominant personality type of these sales leaders (see figure below). Introverts are represented in this elite list of national sales producers, and this should speak volumes about who currently, as well as potentially, fits in your firm.
Since this study, I have been researching more of what top-producing introverts do differently to generate leads from their extrovert counterparts and analyzing how those techniques can matriculate to sales newbies of the same personality persuasion. It has been working. Many of the same salespeople who come to me dejected have hope sparked for the first time in days/weeks/months when they see a type of themselves at the top and start to see what techniques those top producers use that complement their personality types.
STABLE MABLE LEAD-GEN RECOMMENDATIONS
For the introvert who identifies with “Stable Mable,” for example, here are some key lead-generation suggestions:
Stable Mable likes stable environments where she can help, listen intently, and work with others who appreciate her calm approach and humble contribution. This often translates into Stable Mable doing well joining stable groups or volunteer organizations that support her interests, facilitate consistent and authentic relationships, and allow her to serve prospective (and eventual) clients. For example, one Stable Mable I currently coach participates in a football tailgating group. From the group, she has already closed six real estate sales and is just getting started! For this particular Stable Mable, being part of a hobby group produces more lead generation than cold calling (or some other lead-generation activity more appropriate for extroverts) ever has for her.
In regards to a client base, Stable Mable will excel in having patience with Thinkers (those who have the ability to buy or sell real estate and absolutely plan to do it in the next year once a particular event happens, such as having twins, youngest son moving out, etc.) and Looky-Loos (those who have a challenge, such as a bankruptcy, lien, etc., that cannot be overcome for a year or longer, at least). Both of these categories may include first-timers (whether buyers, sellers, investors, and so forth) who need handholding, which Stable Mable does well—often better than the other DiSC personality types. Case in point: Stable Mable has patience, unlike Dominant Dom, who likely will grow frustrated with Thinkers and Looky-Loos, possibly discounting them both as time-wasters, despite the truth that they both eventually will complete a real estate deal (or refer people who will).
But watch out! Stable Mable can be overly accommodating, indecisive, and afraid of change. This requires Stable Mable to have regular accountability to get over the humps of indecision. Stable Mable’s accountability may come in the form of a friend, spouse, co-worker, manager, or mentor/coach. The key is not so much who provides accountability but that the accountability is consistent and encouraging. For example, having a sales leaderboard may be the impetus some personality types, like Dominant Dom, need to move forward because they thrive on competition. On the other hand, Stable Mable will be encouraged by seeing her contribution to the team’s or firm’s overall success, where she is not pitted against other agents competitively but seen as a contributor to the whole.
Returning to the subject of client management, if the prospective client is aggressive and wants to over-talk and disregard Stable Mable’s humble approach, she would do well to refer the client to or partner with an extroverted agent like Dominant Don.
As sales trainers and managers, you know the cost of turnover and attrition to your firm or team each time a sales agent leaves. You can reduce these costs by training sales professionals how to generate leads based on their personality strengths. Who knows? Your introverted salespeople may well generate more income than your extroverts!
Dr. Lee Davenport conducts weekly workshops throughout the U.S. and Canada for various real estate associations and companies, including Better Homes and Garden, RE/MAX, KW, Century 21, and various boutique firms, such as Atlanta Tech Village’s burgeoning Village Realty. Dr. Davenport also weekly coaches teams and individuals to success based on their personality fit. Learn more about her strategies at http://learnwithlee.realtor/ and check out her videos on http://youtube.com/leedavenport.