To succeed in sales, you have to be an extrovert and a natural at it. That’s straight-up nonsense!
- Many sales professionals get into the profession because they’ve been told they’re a natural. And sometimes, aspiring salespeople think they’re not cut out for the job because they’re introverts.
- Both of these assumptions are myths, according to sales leader Kevin “KD” Dorsey, who says there’s nothing natural about selling, and that introverts are often better suited to a career in sales.
- KD clears up other popular misconceptions about sales, including money as motivation, the need to be passionate about products, and relying on a company to propel you forward.
Introverts, unite! (Separately, and in your own home.)
Has there ever been such a prescient, perfect slogan for 2020? After all, this is the year of the virtual convention, the Zoom happy hour, and the “bubble” NBA.
Throw out misconceptions if you want to succeed in sales
But when we think about high-achieving sales rockstars, we assume they’re naturally outgoing, outspoken, and super social.
“People see me on stage, hear me on podcasts, and I bring an energy with me, because I think it’s important to do,” KD says on an episode of INSIDE Inside Sales. “But I’m naturally an introvert.”
KD is an award-winning sales leader, but he recharges with a healthy dose of alone time. And although sales can appear to be effortless, reaching his level takes work: “I had to study. I had to practice day in and day out. Even calling me a natural is almost insulting to the work I’ve put in.”
Imagine telling Kobe Bryant or Tom Brady they didn’t have to work to become great.
“The time they put in trumps any natural ability,” says KD. “You can develop the skills you need to succeed in this game.”
Misconception 1: Extroverts rule
Successful sales reps are social butterflies. Party animals. Magnetic, charismatic, and gregarious. Right?
“It’s a massive misconception,” says Kevin. “When I think about the top salespeople I’ve ever worked with, I would not describe them as extroverts. They’re not like Billy Mays: Pow, pow, pow! Buy this! Buy now!”
[Shout out to Billy. RIP.]
Instead, “they have a calm confidence about them that draws people in,” says KD.
“I feel like extroverts tend to want to be the center of attention, whereas introverts want to make others the center of attention – which is the key to selling.”
Owning your introverted nature can actually make you better at your job.
Introverts tend to be better listeners. They’re usually more patient and empathetic, with higher social EQ – “because they care about who they’re talking to more than talking to themselves,” KD adds. “Introverted confidence is massively valuable in the sales world, way more than the extroverted energy.”
He’ll “take a passionate introvert over an empty extrovert any day.”
Misconception 2: ‘Natural’ selection
Many sales professionals get into the game because someone told them, you’re a natural, or you should be in sales.
But “there’s very little that’s natural about selling. It’s not natural to deal with rejection, to call strangers, to wake up and not be sure what you’ll make that month or that day,” says KD.
“Those are learned behaviors.”
So people who haven’t been told they’d be a natural might think sales isn’t for them.
However, “if we could change the story of what sales is, we could get more great people into it,” he argues. The myth that selling is an innate talent means that many folks miss out on a rewarding career.
If you believe you’re a born salesperson, “generally, it means you won’t take development seriously or won’t work on your craft,” says KD.
Natural sales reps can give the profession a bad name, approaching their work with a just gotta be me attitude.
And that personality type tends to “flame out,” he adds.
Misconception 3: It’s all about the money, honey
KD has seen many top reps who make “a ton of money, but still don’t feel satisfied. They’re still chasing something.”
And anyone who’s been in sales for a few years knows that the peaks and valleys of income can be rough terrain. One deal goes south, and you can lose thousands.
So when KD interviews a candidate for his team who self-identifies as money-motivated, they don’t really know their true motivation, he says.
If money was their #1 goal, “they wouldn’t be applying for an SDR job.”
“People who are truly money-motivated tend to either be doing their own things, or are already making that money, or oftentimes are in jail. If you want money more than anything else, you go and get it,” he says.
He thinks people tend to get “motivation-skewed.”
If the draw of the dollar was that strong and the job that simple, “wouldn’t everybody hit quota?” KD asks.
If you’re relying on money alone to keep you energized and inspired, “motivation becomes fleeting,” he argues.
Misconception 4: The passion paradox
It’s a common cliché: You’ve got to love what you’re selling to sell it successfully.
KD doesn’t buy it.
“As long as the product doesn’t go against your core values, I don’t believe you have to be passionate about it,” he says. “It shouldn’t be something you feel bad about selling – like, I couldn’t sell cigarettes. It’s just not something I support.”
If you do find a product that you’re in love with, that’s awesome.
“But if you’re relying on the product to drive your passion, you’re going to need a new product in two to three years,” KD argues. “Because that product will lose its spark.”
Instead, you should be passionate about selling itself as a career.
“I’ve sold the most random things,” he explains. “Knives, XM radios, insurance, personal training, fitness equipment, vending machines, snacks in a box, plumbing software, marketing websites. I love what I do. The products aren’t what drives me.”
KD recommends channeling your energy into your craft.
“It’ll force you to learn more about your prospect, not your product. Was I reading every day about snack delivery? No. I was reading about office engagement, turnover rates, and what improves employee happiness.”
Misconception 5: The company makes you
The final misconception on KD’s list is pervasive yet harmful: Thinking that one product or company will make your entire career.
“Forget the product; forget the comp plan. Pick a place that will teach you how to sell – the right way,” he says.
Early in your career, you should value training and development more than anything else. Look for an organization that can make you a better sales professional.
“You’re not gonna stay at a company for five years,” KD argues. You’re just not. It doesn’t seem to be the path for most people.”
But if your first company provides a solid foundation in the principles of salesmanship, you’ll take that with you wherever you go.
Chances are, you’ll make more money somewhere else in the long term.
So “get coached,” he says. “Find a great leader. Move for a great development plan.”
As KD notes, “people are always chasing the short game shit. It’s a long game. Your career is your career.”