Incentivising Introverts: A Beginner's Guide

29 July 2016

There has always been a certain amount of stigma attached to introversion in the workplace – particularly in industries like Sales. It’s easy to see why, as introversion can be misconstrued as an antisocial streak, an unwillingness to engage or a lack of team spirit by those who don’t understand this surprisingly common personality type. However, introverts can make great business people, valuable members of your team and high-flying, quota-smashing sales reps. A little research and consideration can pay dividends in helping leaders to bring quieter reps fully on board, ensuring that they are motivated and comfortable in the workplace, and driving performance in a way that introverts will find genuinely rewarding.

Incentivising introverts effectively has to begin with an understanding of introversion. Introverts ‘recharge’, have their best ideas and do their best work when given their own space, while extroverts feed off the energy, bustle and social interaction of a team environment. Introverts are generally quieter, particularly in groups, less willing to initiate or engage in small talk, and may need to be encouraged to voice opinions, even where those opinions are valid and invited.

None of these traits equates to a lack of ability or willingness, and introverts can contribute massively to a sale force if appropriately understood, managed and incentivised. They are generally more attentive listeners that extroverts, quicker to develop a holistic understanding of problems, and to recognise how their solution may best add value to a prospect’s situation. These qualities, together with a preference towards forming fewer, more substantial and mutually-beneficial relationships, can make them highly suited to the current Sales climate.

Understanding is the foundation for managing introverts, but what about the nuts and bolts of incentivising them? Let’s take a look...

Create Indirect, Sustained & Results-Driven Motivation 

Introverts may not react well to some of the ‘carrot and stick’ motivation techniques that Sales has traditionally favoured, but it is vital to demand results of them. Research has shown introverts to be highly detail-orientated and less rewards-hungry than their extrovert peers. This means they may focus on detail to the detriment of end goals if not properly managed.

Look at using incentives to create sustained motivation without relying on direct interpersonal interaction. Online rewards platforms are ideal, and can help to keep rewards and results top of mind forreps, while avoiding involvement from above being seen as micro-management or pressure. They are also a visible, user-friendly way of clearly delineating performance requirements and related rewards, offering a structured, transparent approach to incentives that will benefit both introverts and extroverts on your team.

Positive Reinforcement Beats Red-Blooded Competition

Sales teams that are heavy on reps who enjoy the push and pace of a lively sales floor react well to direct competition with their peers. For introverts, however, this can feel hostile and uncomfortable, which can contribute to shortfalls in performance. Focus instead on creating a system of positive reinforcement. This may be as simple as choosing a cumulative ‘points mean prizes’ platform where even minor wins contribute to greater rewards. As a management consideration, think about offering introverts praise or rewards in front of their team – it may make them a little uncomfortable, but can help to raise their profile and underline their achievements within a team that may not be aware of their ability.

Create an Incentive Infrastructure that Gives Reps Autonomy

No one likes being micro-managed, but for introverts this can be particularly problematic. A feeling of pride and ownership of their role often grows out of a sense of control over given tasks. This makes a degree of autonomy vital for introverted sales reps, who do tend to be great self-starters.

Again, an automated online rewards platform can pay dividends here, as they offer a value framework within which performance and achievements can be noted and celebrated without the direct involvement of leadership.

Ensure the Availability of Introvert-Friendly Incentives

Pick a rewards platform that allows you to choose andtweak available rewards, then ensure there are suitable options for introverted reps. Awards ceremonies, one-on-one dinners with the VP or a group travel incentive may be classic rewards in Sales, but they are likely to sound nightmarish to an introvert. Instead look at personal rewards rather than social ones – vouchers, experience days, time away from work or technology are all great examples.

A willingness to listen and understand, a pre-disposition towards consistent, deliberate work, and an openness to particular incentives can make introverts exceptional salespeople, particularly in one-on-one meetings with buyers and prospects. Being aware of the need to approach and reward introverts differently will help to create a corporate culture that nurtures and encourages their talent and drives their results. That in turn will make a huge impact on staff morale, retention, and bottom line – and everyone benefits.

We would love to talk to you about creating a bespoke rewards platform that works hard for all your reps and delivers real value across the board. Drop us a line in the comments below, or get in touch via our Contact page.