Introvert. What does the word conjure up for you? Bookworm? Loner or loser? Somebody who’s socially awkward? A boring wallflower? The last person picked for kickball? That’s how I was seen for most of my life. It didn’t get easier as I got older. When I interviewed for jobs I couldn’t walk across a room, shake hands or tell a hiring manager my name. Society taught me that introversion was something broken that needed fixing, rather than something positive. I was undervalued and misunderstood because I didn’t speak up.
What’s “worse” than being a shy introvert? Being a sales introvert, of course! It’s a double dip! I was actually told, “You can’t be an introvert and be in sales! How in the world can an introvert sell anything if you don’t even like talking to people?”
I wrote the book, Introverts in Sales: Turn Your Peaceful Power into a Profitable Selling Machine, because I believe sales introverts have a success story that needs to be told. We don’t communicate like extroverts. We certainly don’t sell like them – and I’m convinced that the calm, thoughtful and customer-focused way we bring home the bacon may cause secret envy from our more demonstrative brethren. Oh, and by the way? We do like people! We really like them!
You already know that thirty to fifty percent of the American population identifies as introverted. That’s at least half of the people in the room you’re currently sitting in! Yet, we live in a society that values gregarious networking and social connection. Our success depends on how well we communicate and socialize with others. Whether extroverted or not, we have been forced to behave like extroverts to make money and get ahead. “Pressing the flesh” at networking events. Giving rapid-fire elevator pitches. Making endless small talk (it seems endless to us.) Going out to dinner in big, noisy groups. Sometimes introverts just aren’t into big flashy activities. Many of us are not as comfortable with these activities as we pretend to be. We’d rather just go home because we need alone time to decompress.
Breaking news: Even you may harbor a secret introverted sales habit. If you’re reading this post with great interest, you could be a sales introvert. How do I know? Well, maybe you landed in corporate sales and humbly broke sales records. You don’t like the boisterous activity that others may engage in, but you quietly do your thing. Or, perhaps you run your own hustle and do very well with the sales part. Alternatively, you could be very sociable…yet when it comes to the sales part, your courage leaves you high and dry.
No matter what mask you wear, selling can exhaust you. The fast pace…having to be constantly “on…” it makes you notice that many sales activities run counter to your internal wiring. The outward-facing activity that comes with selling drains you.
No matter what, there is one common characteristic I find with all sales introverts: You get clients eating out of your hand. They don’t want to work with anybody else but you. You figured out how to survive by emphasizing what you’re good at!
Because of your innate superior people skills, I believe that you, the sales introvert, rock sales way better than extroverts do. Don’t believe me? Here are four key observations I highlight in , “Introverts in Sales: Turn Your Peaceful Power into a Profitable Selling Machine.” After 30 years in the field, and managing sales teams for years when I was a Vice President, I noticed four common introvert tendencies. And with these, you don’t just bring home the bacon; you bring the pork belly with the fixins. You:
- Listen way more than you talk. And you know that hearing is not the same as listening. Anybody can hear. You hear stuff while you sleep! Listening means you process, relate to the person and internalize. Why is this important? Your clients prize being heard. You’re a natural good listener. It’s a happy marriage.
- Have an excellent memory. Because you are usually calm, you stay present and focused. You easily remember little details about your customers. “How was Johnny’s soccer game? Did he kill it when he played against the Sparrows?” Little details are a big deal. Your customers love you for listening and they adore you for remembering.
- Master the one-on-one conversation. You love speaking to people one at a time, rather than in big groups. It’s easy for you to demonstrate how much you care about your clients and their business success because this is where you shine.
- Laser focus. It’s highly unlikely that your eyes dart around, looking for the next person to engage with. You also rarely ping pong from one topic to the next, which can give the impression that you’re scattered. Extroverts can’t help it. It’s not as easy for them to focus deeply on one person at a time. But when you constantly give your undivided attention? You make your customers feel as if they are the only people in the room with you. Who doesn’t love that?
Notice a theme here? It’s about communication – the cornerstone of a successful business relationship. It’s about slowing down, allowing a breath of air to permeate your dialogue. It’s about getting everyone to relax.
So, if you’re in a position to hire a sales professional, don’t sleep on the person who comes across with a quiet confidence. Chances are they are a sales introvert. They may not shout from the rooftops, but they will absolutely crush any sales quota you give them. Your clients will adore them; they’ll produce with passion. Why? Because they have a peaceful power that you can help them turn into a profitable selling machine.