• Being introverted is a preference, not a behavior.
  • Indeed, real estate sales is a people business -- but it's also a lot of other things.
  • Introverts tend to be in sync with verbal and nonverbal clues from their clients.

I have a confession — I am an introvert — and that statement would probably surprise most who know me.

Now, my duties generally require me to be open and social — I often narrate the firm-wide education meetings, I lead much of our new agent training, and I am integrally involved in recruiting.

And as our firm frequently represents infill projects, I often find myself pitching our company’s services to either the development community (builders, architects, bankers, developers) or in a public forum. As you would imagine, pitching to a room full of people is about as stressful as it gets for an introverted salesperson.

But despite my proclivity toward introversion, I live an extrovert’s existence most of my waking hours. And you know what? I am pretty good at it.

The misnomer of introversion

It is unfortunate that so many people still hold the perception that the introvert is withdrawn and reclusive — the notion is as archaic as it is untrue.

When most people hear the word introvert, they think of a person standing uncomfortably in the corner at a party, shunning engagement and wishing that he or she was back at home alone with a favorite book and hanging out with the cat — OK, cats.

Most fail to realize that being introverted is a preference, not a behavior. Given the choice, introverts might select solitude or a small predictable group of friends over a large unstructured social situation — but it does not mean that they can’t have fun when the crowd is large and the setting is boisterous.

It only means that it takes a little more mental energy to remain comfortable when the environment is not the one of their choosing, that’s all.

Is being in a large crowd an introvert’s preference? No.

But are they scared or completely incapable when placed in that position? Not at all.

The introvert as a salesperson

I am speaking for all of the introverts when I say this — don’t discount us as salespeople.

If I had a nickel for every time I heard a manager, recruiter or other agent say that real estate is a “people business” or that you have to “love people” to find success in the real estate business, I would be on a yacht in the Caribbean.

Being a people person can be extremely helpful, but being naturally extroverted is no guarantee of success any more than being naturally introverted is a guarantee of failure.

Yes, real estate sales is a people business, but it is also a legal business, a data business, an analysis business, a systems business, an artistic business, a finance business, a technology business, a marketing business, a planning business, a logistics business, an innovation business and a team business, too.

Introverts of the world — unite!

Do you know what introverts do well? They tend to be extremely adept at picking up the subtle clues that everyone gives off about how they prefer to be dealt with — and isn’t that the key to sales?

Isn’t understanding the nuanced behavior we all exhibit critical to establishing meaningful and lasting relationships? You bet.

So, all you introverts out there, don’t assume that introversion will limit your potential success in this crazy business. Just because being the center of attention or the life of the party feels equal parts daunting, uncomfortable and exhausting doesn’t mean that you cannot find success in the role of an agent. You can.

And to all of the managers and recruiters out there looking for your next all-star, don’t assume that the quiet and reserved person sitting across from you is not a natural sales person.

Odds are, he or she is doing exactly what you would want all of your sales people to do — taking in all of your verbal and nonverbal clues, as well as listening carefully to what you are saying and processing all of the information before responding.

To me, those skills make an incredibly powerful salesperson.

Rick Jarvis is a co-founder of the One South Realty Group in Richmond, Virginia.

Email Rick Jarvis.

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