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Anand Srinivasan

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Do You Need To Be An Extrovert To Be A Successful Car Salesman?

It is commonly believed that to be a successful salesman, you need to be a naturally extroverted person. In fact, one of the dealerships I have previously been associated with scouted local events for students who are affable and extroverted and offered them an instant 6 month incentive-based dealership offer. The idea is that if you are good at talking to people, you should be able to readily find success in a job which involves selling.

But does this strategy always work? A recent study published in the journal of the Association of Psychological Science found that being an extrovert does not always guarantee a success in sales. Researcher Adam Grant found that sales is a field where neither extroverts nor introverts had significant success. People who find extraordinary success were those somewhere in the middle; what Grant calls ‘ambiverts’. Ambiverts are people who have intermediate extraversion and they were found to be 32% more successful than extroverts in terms of revenue. Compared to introverts, they were 24% more successful.

So why is this the case? According to Grant, “The ambivert advantage stems from the tendency to be assertive and enthusiastic enough to persuade and close, but at the same time, listening carefully to customers and avoiding the appearance of being overly confident or excited”.

Consider this scenario: Suppose a tall male customer walks into your dealership and is considering the purchase of a Chevrolet Cruze. Now you could be an extroverted sales person who immediately walks up to them, makes them comfortable and start talking to them about the new diesel engine and the large headroom. But if you were an ambivert, you could be a better listener who waits for the customer to talk at breadth about their requirements - maybe they prefer a petrol variant, maybe the car is intended for the visitor’s wife who is short and does not require a headroom. An ambivert possesses the listening skills of an introvert while at the same time being capable of befriending the customer enough to convert the lead into a sale.

According to Erika Andersen from Proteus International, a company that offers leadership skills training, salespeople can easily train themselves to be better ambiverts using a method that they call Social Style. One of the critical starting points for extroverts to make better salespeople is to start observing their customers and make a note of their behaviors - are they soft spoken, or are they loud? Are they affable, or are they reserved? Making this observation shall help you to tweak your own behavior to be better suited to what the customer wants - if the customer is loud and extroverted, it is recommended that the salesperson behaves in a similar manner as well. However, if they are soft-spoken, try to behave a little more formal and give the customer a little space and time for them to acclimatize to the environment. This helps you in building a level of trust that will get the customer to open up and give in their requirements.

The premise of the Social Style is to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and understand how they would like to be approached. You then tweak your behavior to meet this need. Such a technique will not only enhance your trust with the customer, but also help in improving your conversion frequency.

Photo courtesy: ImipolexG, Flickr

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