Charming, outgoing, funny, and charismatic: These are all terms that come to mind when you think of a good sales person. They know how to carry on a conversion with just about anyone, and they seem to never stumble. There’s nothing they’re unafraid to say, and you definitely will have a hard time detecting any hint of fear.
You probably read that and thought, “Well great, that doesn’t even begin to describe me. I’m doomed.” While being extroverted is the stereotypical characteristic of a sales person, it isn’t the only type of personality that can sell successfully. While more people than not who are successful in sales could be characterized as “outgoing,” the fact is introverts and even people who describe themselves as “shy” can be successful in sales too. In fact, they can probably be even more successful.
1. Be yourself.
If you’re shy, you likely have a hard time presenting a confident image. And that’s OK because if that’s not who you really are, people will see right through it. For introverts to sell, the best tactic you can use is to be your honest, trustworthy, and meek self. People will notice your sincerity and will believe you are more likely to have their best interests in mind. This builds trust, and when they trust you, they will buy.
2. Focus on your listening.
Introverts make better listeners, and that’s a big advantage you have when it comes to trying to sell your product or service. Harness that skill and focus on what the other person is saying and how you can help them meet their needs. You should not talk someone else into buying; the real key is understanding another person’s needs and knowing why your products or services can impact those needs.
3. Use preparation to your advantage.
While extroverts are good at spontaneously coming up with the right thing to say, you may struggle with this. To help your success rate, be sure to take advantage of your natural ability to prepare. Make notes and plan out common objections and responses you might have.
4. Ask questions
This tip goes along strongly with listening. If you are silent, most people will keep talking and tell you some of what you need to know. Many times sales people try to fill in the dead parts of conversation, when that could actually be hurting you all along. Give the prospect time to think what you’re saying on their own. During that time, think of the questions you need to ask them. Part of what you need to know remains hidden, and the key to discovering that information lies in asking the right questions.
5. Use promptness to your advantage
If someone calls you or emails you, return their contact right away. People feel important and trust you even more when you are prompt. The sooner you can guarantee you’ll be back to then, the better people feel. When you have that time, whether it’s 2 hours or 24 hours, tout that as one of your competitive advantages. People want to work with people who actually respond to then.
Even though you get nervous and uptight, force that smile out in the open. People focus much more on the positive and will ignore any of the nervous or anxious body language you might send them if you’re sincerely being friendly, and a smile can go a long in doing that.
7. Let go of negative thinking.
As an introvert, you are prone to evaluate your social interactions with others in a negative way. Maintain a level head and let go of negative thinking by remembering that unless someone says something, they probably didn’t even notice what you believe went wrong.
About the Author
Erin Leigh is a freelance writer for Schulz Business, a sales training company providing customer sales and marketing assessments for entrepreneurs, small businesses, and corporations.
Jeannette Paladino says
There are all styles of selling. An extrovert sales person could potentially overwhelm an introvert who is the decision-maker. On the other hand, you have an advantage if you’re an introvert selling to an extrovert, who likes to hear himself talk! So I don’t think that extroverts have any inherent advantages when it comes to selling.
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Pat Weber says
Jeannette, I think there’s one extrovert natural advantage in this post: the ability to be more spontaneous. If this makes any sense – many times an introvert has to over prepare to appear spontaneous. I’ve found I’ve overcome this a good deal though and now, spontaneity tends to be my friend. I seem to let go (there’s that Zen thing again) and trust my self more.
Laura G says
There is a great advantage to being silent and listening which, for introverts, may counter the spontaneity of extroverts. People appreciate when someone listens to what they say, doesn’t interrupt or anticipate what they’re going to say, and gives a genuine response rather than “yea, yea, yea, here’s what I think”. Listening is a gift, and as hard as it can be to refrain from filling the silence, sometimes the other person needs that time to digest your presentation and fully form their thoughts and questions.
There are advantages to both types of personalities; the trick is to recognize them and put them to good use!
LOL – I have enough articles and blog posts to write the book for sure!
I like this: The extrovert wears out their welcome where the introvert gains trust.
Susan Cooper says
At times, the extrovert initially appears to have an advantage, but time is generally not their friend. Given time, in any situations in the sales arena, a determined introvert will have far greater success.. The extrovert wears out their welcome where the introvert gains trust.
I should now. I am a successful salesperson that is an introvert. Over time, my quiet, unassuming nature became an asset. A hallmark of providing what a customer needed, anticipating what would to there advantage with above average service. The word spread and referral business was natural result. Given time the extrovert feel by the wayside or behind, where I (the introvert) moved forward to succeed in a fashion the extrovert could only dream about.
I could write a book about this subject…. :)))
Patricia Weber says
Theresa, you are an exception, as are other extroverts. You’ve learned to listen and you actually put that skill into action.
Theresa Wagar says
I agree. One of the hardest things to do in sales for an extrovert like me is to BE QUIET and LISTEN. A big advantage for an introvert.
Theresa Wagar recently posted…3 Easy Ways Google Maps and Google + Local Will Deliver Customers to Your Door
Good and true post Pat.
In a way the most important point is to master the skill of listening so that you really understand what the other person is saying. Not hearing what you THINK the other person is saying.
Many extrovert salespeople overlook that aspect and introverts can get the upper hand here i.e. get the business.
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Pat Weber says
Catarina, it’s almost like the introvert ability to be more INTERESTED than INTERESTING. While being able to talk about yourself, your company, your benefits to build interest, it’s an upper hand to be INTERESTED first.
Bethany Lee says
Patricia, these are some valuable tips. I like how you suggested that for an introvert to be themselves, even when they are not sure of themselves, can be an asset rather than a benefit because as they are themselves in their meekness, this leads people to trust them. I think also, introverts who know this about themselves, often don’t try to sell stuff they don’t genuinely believe in. This makes them even more believeable because their own experience with the product and their belief in it shows through, despite any nervousness they might protray.
I have also found that when I am nervous, asking questions is the most valuable thing I can do. It’s a way that it gets attention off of me and gets the customer talking. If you are truly listening to them, then you get a lot of valuable information.
Great tips, thanks for writing and reminding us that introverts can be good salespeople too, if they know how to leverage their introverted-ness. 🙂
Sherryl Perry says
You’ve built a great case to build the confidence of introverts everywhere. As you point out, it’s key to be yourself and your sincerity will shine through. Personally, I’ve always preferred dealing with salespeople who are a little on the shy side. When I was in the corporate world and negotiating contracts with vendors, I actually refused to deal with a particular sales person because he was openly aggressive and wouldn’t show me the courtesy of letting me make the decision. He lost the sale and I met a sales woman that I worked with for years.
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Pat Weber says
Bethany, I believe so whole heartedly about our introvert unfair advantage in sales. We’re really short changing ourselves since sales is the only profession I know of where you basically, write your own check!
Pat Weber says
Sherryl, the aggressive types are many times the first to the party (the selling) but not to the sale!
Steve Roberts says
A good article.
It is definitely one of the myths of sales that you need to be a fast talker and have the gift of the gab. This was one of the themes in one of my recent ‘myths of sales’ blog post:
A confident introvert is more likely to be successful in sales. The obvious reason is introverts are more likely to listen to what the customer wants. However another area for success is that introverts are not afraid of silence. That extra second or two of silence in a negotiation can help too!
Some great points. The only point I would challenge is promptness (follow-up). This is a critical sales skill and not the sole preserve of introverts
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Greg Weber says
This was an interesting post. It kind of made me look at my own marketing style, and I would say I’m very much an introvert who’s gotten good at masking anxious feelings. So even though I might feel anxious, you’d probably never know it unless you knew me very, very well.
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Pat Weber says
Talk about masking feelings! I know that first hand, fortunately, less and less. Thanks Greg.