Friday, June 02, 2006

A Lot of Sales is Just Waiting Around

Schmoozing. Fancy dinners. Big bar tabs. These are a few of thing things people imagine when thinking about sales, but there is one thing few people think about when it comes to sales: waiting.

And there is a lot of waiting in a typical sales job: waiting in offices, waiting on responses, waiting on your own company's development people, traveling to and from an account. And a lot of that waiting is alone. Add an international element into the mix, and the amount of waiting goes up by an order of magnitude. For example, on my trip to Germany last week, I spent a lot of time alone on a plane, alone in a hotel room, and alone in airports. I basically spent three days by myself in order to do take one three hour meeting.

I used to think that gregarious, extroverted people make the best sales people. While "people skills" are certainly required for the job, I am starting to think that introverts might make the best sales people in many cases - at least in sales positions that require extensive travel. The ability to "go inside" and enjoy time alone is a huge requirement of the job, and people who are uncomfortable being alone would not find fulfillment in such a position. Extroverts would probably prefer a retail or other sales position where there is "constant contact" with the customer, but would be uncomfortable in a traveling sales position that has long periods without human contact.

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