When you get regular offers to have your chapter included in someone’s upcoming book, you don’t always find it goes far. Today, when I was cleaning out email files I found this chapter for a book I believe was never published. If it turns out to be otherwise, my apologies to a Sharon Brown, who I lost touch with.
It seems it will make for a great blog post, with some updates for the more current events, so let me share part of it here:
Would you agree that being in sales and sales management, puts a person in the heart of the extroverted world of rules? Now stop, and reread this with the understanding that first, I am an introvert and second, it is undeniable we live in a business world that esteems extroversion. If you have read the book, Quiet, by Susan Cain, you would be familiar with this theory.
So, here it is again, in a different phraseology. Being in sales or sales management is as far into the center of the business world where most often extroverted rules govern success.
A long-time member of the sales community, a pivotal event for my self-esteem was a compliment by a sales manager setting me as an example for other sales associates to follow. My sales manager was praising me in front to the sales team of about ten or so people about my sales approach, “Follow her around and you find out why she is so successful. She is focused on her customer’s needs to the degree that whatever questions she asks can even elicit someone’s underwear size.”
As an introvert, it is my nature to question, listen, reflect and question more. Our natural introverted tendency to be curious to the degree of not being satisfied at times, turns out to be a positive trait! It can even help a person be successful in sales.
One of my challenges as a business coach who was working with other introverts who sell, is to encourage introverts who either choose to sell or are somehow directed to that profession, that they can sell successfully and with more energy.
Second to this challenge is to educate people in general about what introversion does and does not mean in light of the many misconceptions about the “introvert.”
My Italian heritage solidifies for me a natural gift for gab. That’s my native Italy family in the photo here. I’m nothing but Italian. And in part because of this background, I am attracted to public speaking. I do this successfully and even have a paying career as a public speaker.
But, when people see and hear me on the platform, they dismiss me being an introvert. This makes it clear that there is confusion between being able to articulate, stimulate and even inspire others from the platform, with being tongue-tied and boring, dare I say it, an introvert.
When speaking, I give listeners an example: “Most of you who like to speak can do it all day long and never tire. It is likely you have more extroversion and get more energy from things outside yourself. In fact, the more you do it, the more you want to do it! But for an introvert it’s different.” I then review for them the quieter events, the more energizing events that I must strategically plan and schedule before and after being on the stage. Light bulbs, even flash bulbs, dot the room of smiling faces and I know, at least for that moment, there is one misconception clarified for a few more people – the ones who listened.
Discovering who you are and how you are wired is revealing. Applying what is revealed is liberating, even energizing.
In between the discovery and application may lie the essence of the introvert’s unfair advantage. Whether in sales, other professions, or in life in general, taking time to strategically and tactically plan the what, the how, and the when to commit our natural traits to the life aspects in which we want more success is the natural, unfair and usually overlooked advantage of the introvert.