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Psychol Sci. 2013 Jun;24(6):1024-30. doi: 10.1177/0956797612463706. Epub 2013 Apr 8.

Rethinking the extraverted sales ideal: the ambivert advantage.

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The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6370, USA.


Despite the widespread assumption that extraverts are the most productive salespeople, research has shown weak and conflicting relationships between extraversion and sales performance. In light of these puzzling results, I propose that the relationship between extraversion and sales performance is not linear but curvilinear: Ambiverts achieve greater sales productivity than extraverts or introverts do. Because they naturally engage in a flexible pattern of talking and listening, ambiverts are likely to express sufficient assertiveness and enthusiasm to persuade and close a sale but are more inclined to listen to customers' interests and less vulnerable to appearing too excited or overconfident. A study of 340 outbound-call-center representatives supported the predicted inverted-U-shaped relationship between extraversion and sales revenue. This research presents a fresh perspective on the personality traits that facilitate successful influence and offers novel insights for people in choosing jobs and for organizations in hiring and training employees.


personality; personnel selection; social influences

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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