Sales Performance

24 Feb 2018

Ambiverts, Extraverts, and Sales Job Performance

In this article we look at Ambiverts, Extraverts, and Sales Job Performance and announce the new Accounts Payable and Receivable Test

Sales Aptitude Personality Research

Article Highlights

Extraversion vs Introversion is one of the most studied personality dimensions. It was a long-held belief that extraversion would “take a person further” in business, particularly in sales. The most recent research supports a third personality type that is in a way, a combination of qualities of both introverts and extraverts. These personalities stand to make the biggest impact in leadership and in sales. The implications suggest that:

  • Organisations should screen candidates around the “right disposition” and sales aptitude rather than relying on training people to cope with the pressures and emotional aspects of being in sales.
  • Organisations should consider re-thinking their personality style benchmarks for hiring sales staff and other roles where high levels of extraversion might seem like a key criteria.
  • The research continues to show that regardless of “personality type”, the qualities of self confidence, commitment, etc. are always going to impact the balance of this scale.
Sales Aptitude Personality Model
Sales Aptitude Personality Model

Is it biological?

Can someone’s biological portions of their personality really make them a better salesperson? How about a better leader? According to a 2015 study not only are the concepts of introversion and extraversion biologically based, they also contend that success in the workforce is driven by these traits alone (and those sub-traits that are associated with each).

Introducing A Not So “New” Term

Another 2015 study took this research a step further and explored not only extraversion and introversion, but also ambiversion. The term ambivert was first used in 1927 by sociologist Kimball Young, just six years after Carl Jung’s legendary work where he identified and explored the two, better-known terms. Young’s addition of the third term was accepted, but not quite as revered since it was not cited in Jung’s initial work. Then in 1950, the term became nearly obsolete again after Eysenck’s influential work once again focused the field on the two initial terms: introvert and extravert.

Since then, conventional wisdom had held, at least through 2012, that the most effective leaders became so simply because their outgoing personalities made them better suited to public speaking, collaboration and networking. But the conversation began to shift in 2012 with the release of Susan Cain’s book where her take on the reflective qualities of introverts as being the number one factor in a successful business person’s personality started to become a part of managerial and human resource discussions. Virtually overnight, experts from the leadership field began arguing that introverts are in fact better designed to run businesses because they are more focused, more cautious and more willing to listen to and then reflect upon constructive criticism. A 2013 work by Adam Grant noted that neither perspective (that introverts or extraverts are biologically designed to be the “best leaders”) is accurate. Instead, he found that extreme cases of either introverts or extraverts cannot be good in any situation. Even Carl Jung weighed in on this and noted that “there is no such thing as a pure introvert or extravert” and if there were, that “man would be in a lunatic asylum”.

Ambiverts’ Impact on Sales and Leadership
Grant detailed his findings after tracking sales representatives at an unnamed software company over the course of three months. Using a personality assessment, they measured introversion and extraversion on a scale of 1 to 7. Ambiverts, or representatives that had a score between 3.75 and 5.50 had an average hourly revenue of $154.77. This was considerably higher than their extraverted ($125.19) and introverted ($120.10) counterparts. In fact, those who measured specifically at the 4.0 midpoint (true ambiverts) averaged $208.34 per hour, a substantially higher amount compared to their colleagues. The same study acknowledged that not only are ambiverts the best at sales, but they are also typically the best leaders. They are the best at empowering people and being proactive. They are not superior leaders by default because intangibles like confidence, commitment, even conscientiousness are important regardless of the personality type. However, when the three types all exhibit those core strengths, ambiverts maintain a competitive advantage.

The OCEAN Occupational Personality Assessment is one tool that can identify Ambiverts and candidates likely to succeed in sales environments.


Accounts Receivable and Payable Knowledge Test

After many client requests, RightPeople have released the accounts receivable and payable knowledge test to ensure that job applicants have the required skills necessary to undertake this critical business function. An overall score is provided as well as separate scores for Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable knowledge.


[i] Loveland, J.M. and Lounsbury, J.W. “Are Salespeople Born or Made? Biology, Personality, and the Career Satisfaction of Salespeople.” Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, 30.2 (2015) n.p. Print.

[ii] Ankeny, Jason. “Winning Personality: The Center of the Personality Spectrum Belongs to Ambiverts – Individuals with Characteristics of Both Introverts and Extraverts. Could This Balance Equip Them to be Superior Business Leaders?” Entrepreneur, 43.3 (March 2015): 36-41. Print.

[iii] Young, Kimball. Source Book for Social Psychology. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1927.

[iv] Jung, Carol, & Baynes, H. Psychological Types, or, The Psychology of Individuation. London: Kegan Paul Trench Trubner, 1921. Print.

[v] Eysenck, Hans. Dimensions of Personality. New York: Transaction Publishers, 1950. Print.

[vi] Cain, Susan. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Cannot Stop Talking. New York: Random House, 012. Print.

[vii] Ankeny, 37.

[viii] Grant, Adam. “Rethinking the Extraverted Sales Ideal: The Ambivert advantage.” Psychological Science (24.6 2013). 1024-1030. Print.

[ix] Ankeny, 38.