Some people strongly believe that extroverts are more apt to succeed in jobs that are people-facing, namely sales and front-end marketing, and that they ultimately go on to have stellar leadership roles and careers.
Others believe that introverts are more apt to succeed in “behind the scenes” jobs that don’t require an extrovert’s approach or demeanor.
But has anyone actually tested this? Strangely, not until very recently, it appears.
And when this hypothesis was finally tested, recently, the results were surprising.
It appears that those succeed in selling (not just to customers, but to other employees, bosses, the teams they manage, peers, etc. – all of which are required in order to truly succeed and lead others, especially in medium to large organizations) are in fact neither introverts nor extroverts, are “in between” these two categories.
The Wharton Professor that conducted the test first assessed sales reps at a software company on a 1-7 introversion/extroversion scale and subsequently looked at the revenue they generated (multiply hourly revenue by 2000 to get the annual revenue brought in by each of these reps, below):
…ambiverts (the “in betweens”) earned average hourly revenues of $155, beating extroverts by a healthy 24 percent. In fact, the salespeople who did the best of all, earning an average of $208 per hour, had scores of 4.0, smack in the middle of the introversion-extroversion scale.
The test also showed that extroverts earned hourly revenues of $125 and introverts earned hourly revenues of $120. (Which means that, yes, the study did use customer-sale revenue as a proxy for all selling skills and then correlated that to the reps’ introversion/extroversion ratings…)
One of the key takeaways from the study? That Ambiverts, which most of us are, have some distinct advantages:
Extroverts can talk too much and listen too little…Introverts have their own challenges. They can be too shy to initiate, too skittish to deliver unpleasant news and too timid to close the deal.
Ambiverts, though, strike the right balance. They know when to speak up and when to shut up, when to inspect and when to respond, when to push and when to hold back. Here’s the link to the full Washington Post article that has other interesting insights (especially on Page 2).