The Value of Introverts in the Field of Marketing and Sales
We would think being introverted and wanting to pursue a marketing career is simply not workable. Let’s face it, you would most likely need to be outspoken, outgoing and socially comfortable to face the basic responsibilities that would a Marketing or sales job entails. So, how would you start a career as a marketer if you do not have those traits?
The value of an introvert in business
The field of marketing and sales is quite segmented and covers a multitude of different areas across a wide range of activities and jobs. Having an extroverted personality might be a prerequisite for some positions but for others, being on the other end of the personality spectrum is arguably preferable and sometimes even essential.
Susan Cain’s book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” put forth a simple yet revealing idea: the introvert is under-used in our society. We are indeed overvaluing extroverts and are stereotyping introverts as being shy, awkward and socially unresponsive.
This is obviously far from the truth.
The Right Candidate
A few years ago, we were recruiting a social media content manager in our company. We were losing touch with our online audience and needed someone with enough experience to handle the elaboration and implementation of our content strategy. As a sales and marketing manager, this position would fall under my direct supervision, and the selected candidate would report to me. I was thus very much involved in the hiring process.
We ran the job advert through a recruitment company and, after a few days, we had about twenty applications. We then started interviewing the candidates and most of them were stellar, outspoken, socially comfortable and well presented, others candid and sometimes even blunt. However, no one would fit the job; they lacked the listening, analytical and creative skills this role would require. It turned out that the recruitment firm emphasized soft skills that did not match the personality type we needed for the job. For example, “Outstanding social skills” and “Excellent oral communication skills” are not relevant for what we were looking for. We required someone with good listening and analytical skills. Oral and social communication abilities were irrelevant for our needs, and those were big stop signs for any introverts interested in the job.
I was at that moment reading Susan Cain’s book and adhered to the argument she put forth. I pushed to go over the process again and we decided to re-do the job advert. This time we looked at major strengths of an introverted person: being a good listener, having a creative mindset, being self-motivated and preferring to work alone. We even downplayed oral communication skills and other basic social “requirements” any other job listings in marketing and sales would have. All in all, we focused on the so-called “social awkwardness” of the introverted personality stereotype. After a dozen interviews and short-listing five potential candidates, we struggled with the final decision as they were all just perfect for the job. At the end of the day we settled on someone and up to now, I am not looking back.
The context of a changing market
The general idea that social communication skill is a must for anything work-related is not relevant anymore. We need to break out of this mindset and take advantage of the opportunities people with a different personality set would bring forth.
With the revolution of technology and online marketing, the way consumers interact with brands has completely changed and evolved. Instead of direct one-way communication from brands to consumers, consumers are interacting and engaging in discussions with their brands, and through a multitude of different channels.
Having free access to transparent information on the market, the end customer has choices and is thus volatile and less loyal. Jumping ship from brands to brands is becoming easier and power is basically shifting from one side to the other.
Therefore, organizations need to understand the market better and ensure to listen and react accordingly. It is no longer a monologue but an engaged discussion, and a very complex one at that.
Our jobs as marketers are to understand how the customer wants to buy and help them to do so— Bryan Eisenberg
Introverts are thus more relevant nowadays in marketing. They are active listeners, more patient and definitely understand the value of the market’s voice. They can easily engage with their consumer while listening and responding accordingly. For a brand, this is key and those skills are arguably more important now than before. Leaders and managers are aware of and focused on this. Recruiters are now searching for specific traits and those are most often found in introverted people.
The market now needs social media managers, SEO analyst, content managers, market research analyst, and creative designers more than they need people to sell their service or product. Properly understanding behaviors and interests is no more an advantage but a must to survive.
The value that an introvert can bring to any marketing job was often overlooked before but is now becoming essential for any brands to thrive on the market. If you want to pursue a career in marketing but feel your personality would not match your choice of career, think twice. There is no better time than now to jump ship.
© 2019 Maxwell Scott Goodman