I recently got a nasty message on Facebook that questioned how I could teach introverts how to sell. “Introverts can’t sell, I don’t know what your background is but you obviously don’t know anything about selling.” This made me laugh since not only do I have pretty stellar sales experience but I am also an introvert. And I am not unique.
I took some time to ask former colleagues who worked in full time sales roles. Did they notice a difference between introverts and extroverts on their sales teams? Many mentioned that their most successful long term sales people were indeed introverts. Why? Because introverts are great at building deep relationships. They are great listeners, they can read a room, they notice the fine details, they are great observers. All required skills for high level sales.
So why would this person be so shocked that I am talking about introverts and selling? While I can never be certain, I think most of us have an outdated view of selling. When people talk sales, the first picture that pops into their mind is a used car salesman who is pushy, aggressive and often sleazy. Our society constantly reinforces this inaccurate picture in movies and advertising. These people exist but I would never say they are successful in their jobs. They may achieve short terms wins but how many people walk away saying they would never come back? How many of their customers refer them to others? How many repeat customers do they have? I am guessing very few. And I would make a solid bet they are not the highest long term performers.
The best salespeople I have ever worked with know that listening is more important than talking. That building trust takes time and authenticity matters. They know that different personalities have different needs and they learn what each person needs by observing them, their team and what they say (and don’t say). Introverts notice the fine details and while extroverts are often great at making introductions, its introverts who are building the relationships behind the scenes.
The other misunderstanding is that many people misunderstand the word introvert. Even introverts themselves! Introversion is a scale just like many things and some of us are highly introverted, shy or even have social anxiety. Other introverts may love some social situations but need time alone to recharge. I personally didn’t admit I was an introvert for years because I was really trying to be what I thought everyone wanted. I looked at my introversion as a character flaw I should change instead of something to embrace. But that left me with low confidence and very exhausted.
The fact is, the skills required to excel at high level sales are the strengths of introverts. The problem is that many introvert think there is only one way to sell. So if they are brave enough to try it, they often get discouraged if they fail or find it too challenging. But those that persist often develop their own style. They have in person meetings instead of big social events for clients. They build deep relationships with a few key people. They observe and listen to determine next steps. And the great thing about sales is that is a results driven profession. The end result is what matters, not how you got there.
I usually don’t comment back to people on social media who make nasty comments. But I honestly couldn’t help myself when I saw that comment and had to respond. “My background is 15 years of high level media sales for Fortune 500 companies. I have sold well over $100 million dollars. And I was such a shy as a kid, I couldn’t even raise my hand in class. I am a total introvert. Whats the last thing you sold?” It turns out, he was a brand new sales person at an electronics store with only a few months experience.
Want to find out more about how to sell using your introverted strengths? I created a free video workshop called, “Quiet Selling” which is available just for the month of February. You can check it out here: http://bit.ly/2kqMmnY
Christine Pereira is the founder of SoulfulSelling.com and mentors introverts & entrepreneurs how to gain confidence to generate more income, create better relationships and still be true to themselves.