Can Introverts Sell? Experts Say Yes if You Follow These 4 Tips
Some kind of selling, negotiating, or persuading is required for most jobs in the business world. However, this can be especially difficult if you’re an introvert, in which case, talking to strangers probably leaves you sapped of creativity and feeling drained of energy.
Fortunately, people are seldom either wholly extroverted or completely introverted. Yet there seem to be clear, meaningful differences between the two polar opposites. Dr. Marti Olsen Laney, in her popular 2002 book, The Introvert Advantage, theorizes that people who identify as introverts may be more sensitive to dopamine. Dopamine is a brain chemical that gives us a “buzz” when we take risks or jump into action or novelty. Laney suggests that extroverts may be more desensitized to dopamine and therefore require more of it to feel happy than introverts do. She suggests most of us are placed somewhere on this continuum.
It’s also a misconception that introverts are shy: extraversion-introversion isn’t about personality. Rather, this continuum refers to where people get their energy from—what activities make them feel energized and what leave them feeling drained. Introverts recoup their energy with solitude, while extroverts are energized by socializing.
Some experts believe that introverts make better salespeople, provided they understand how they are affected by different types of engagement. So, while you as an introvert might never enjoy selling the way some extroverts do, you can learn to manage your weaknesses and leverage your strengths to improve your sales.
1. Be a Good Listener and Researcher.
The stereotypical, pushy extrovert salesperson quickly puts off most customers. In contrast, introverts tend to be good listeners, organizers, and researchers. So, rather than relying on likability or conversational skills in which you may not possess confidence, take time to listen attentively to customers and respond accordingly.
Laney explains in her book that introverts’ neural signals take longer paths on average than signals in extroverts’ brains. This likely means introverts make more mental connections when they ask questions—a sign of critical thinking. In consultative sales, being able to anticipate and respond to objections is a significant advantage. Plus, when people feel they have been listened to, they are more willing to trust the person they're talking to. So, make use of those deep thinking skills to build relationships with customers your way.
2. Face Your Fears Daily.
Compensate for your weaknesses by working on them daily. They say life begins at the edge of your comfort zone, and we know that’s the dopamine talking. So desensitize yourself and improve your skills by doing one thing each day that you don't like, but you know you should work on. It could be making a cold call or even something as simple as greeting everyone you pass, even if it's just acknowledging them with a glance and a smile. You will find that with practice, these things become easier.
3. Then, Focus on the Things That Don't Scare You.
Often, even if you're in a full-time sales position, talking to people will only take up about a third of your day. So, concentrate on excelling at everything else. For example, make sure you know your industry and your products better than any of your colleagues. Master any tools your job requires, like your CRM system or reporting software. The confidence you gain from expertise in these areas will spill over into your engagement with customers. Additionally, you will inspire confidence and potentially become the "go-to” guy or gal in areas that less diligent colleagues have difficulty mastering.
4. Be Sure to Recharge.
Finally, understand your needs as an introvert and set boundaries at work concerning your time and extracurricular activities. Remember that you need time alone to recharge, whereas your extrovert colleagues may be energized by social situations. Don't be pressured to join in after-work drinks or to socialize with colleagues on weekends if you do not want to. Instead, find activities that restore your energy and consider them non-negotiable.
Establish healthy personal routines that your family can work around. Perhaps that means an hour alone when you get home from work, or a solo Sunday hike. Maybe it's waking up early for a jog or cycle. Whatever works for you, make it part of your routine and keep it sacrosanct.
In addition, keep in mind that sales can be a game of peaks and valleys. You’ll have days that go well, and days where rudeness and rejection will send you into the “valley of despair.” Introverts tend to be more sensitive to rejection than extroverts, but that doesn’t have to stop you from being an excellent salesperson.