Before we get started, let’s get one thing clear; introverts and extroverts are two extremes. Yet you can still find both extroverts and introverts working in sales. Yes, most people fall anywhere in between and show a blend of introverted and extroverted traits, with a slight-to-greater-inclination to one extreme.
An introvert might be the last person you would expect to find in a sales career, let alone finding one who is having success. We tend to believe all extroverts are the ‘life-and-soul-of-the-party’ and hence make great candidates for most sales positions. However, introversion and extroversion have more to do with how people draw their energies rather than personality differences (or clashes). The sales profession has room for both personality types to succeed in sales. Rather than focusing on the differences, we should focus on how people from two sides of the spectrum can co-exist and learn from each other.
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What Can Introverts Learn from Extroverts?
Embrace Social Settings and Small Talk
Introverts aren’t as invigorated by social settings as extroverts. If you’re an introvert working in sales, try inching out of your comfort zone. Start with acknowledging people with a ‘hey’ and a smile. For introverts on the shyer side or those who find social interactions draining, this is a simple yet effective way to build social stamina. In sales, there will always be a tradeshow or networking event to attend. So, introverts can learn how to better engage in small talk by shadowing extroverts and understanding what works best.
Take Charge and Guide the Conversation
Not all introverts working in sales lack confidence, but they may find back-to-back interactions draining. If you need breaks and time away from the crowd and noise, take them. You also do not always have to take charge immediately on a sales call. However, some potential customers may need you to guide them and take charge of the situation sooner than later. So, rather than thinking it through and coming back to them later, learn from extroverts and take ownership of the conversation early on if the situation calls for it. They may be looking for your expertise and advice, so don’t be shy.
Ask for Help
Introverts can sometimes attempt to take on everything and try to do it all themselves. It is one thing to have a packed calendar; it’s another thing to be overextended. Learn to ask others’ opinions and brainstorm with others to talk through ideas and situations that arise. If you’ve got a lot on your plate, lean on your teammates, and delegate tasks to them to help. It not only keeps you productive but also helps you gain more practice in dealing with people.
Grow A Thicker Skin
Don’t let a cold call with a rude prospect ruin your day or week. Easier said than done, right? While we are on the subject, introverts are sometimes more sensitive to rudeness and rejection compared to extroverts. Maybe it is because they ponder and self-analyze more, while extroverts probably vent and move on to the next prospect.
It may help to remember that you will probably never come across that rude prospect in real life. Brooding doesn’t add much value to your growth anyway. I hate to say this, but with time, you will develop a thick skin and learn to weed out such unpleasant aspects of your job.
What Can Extroverts Learn from Introverts Working in Sales?
Listen More than Talk
Most extroverts thrive in social situations and enjoy the art of conversation; this can sometimes lead to more talking than listening on sales calls. Introverts working in sales are more focused on listening to what the prospects’ needs are, so they can determine if their solution is a good fit and will resolve a prospect’s problems. Follow the introvert’s lead and work on those listening skills.
Remember, you have only limited time to engage the prospect. If you can listen (like an introvert) rather than talk – let’s keep it a rough 70:30 listening-to-talking ratio – you have won more than half the battle already. The more you learn about the prospect’s pain points, the easier it will be for you to present your product as the superior solution.
Take Time-outs for Reflection
Introverts are good about embracing downtime to reflect and think through things. Their efforts are often rewarded with productive conversations and great insights about the prospect. Extroverts can learn from this approach and take time to refocus on the quality of conversation rather than jumping from phone call to phone call. Taking some time to reflect is important for self-care as well as for honing critical thinking (vital in sales). It helps you anticipate possible objections and how to craft responses better.
Having A Rough Script Ready
Extroverts rely on their spontaneity and wit to move a conversation forward, whether on the phone or when networking. Adlibbing with a dash of humor does make an impression. However, there are times when you may not have that kind of time or when you must cover a few points within the given time. Here, the classic introvert approach can help you – having a rough script. Introverts usually keep such talking points ready for various situations, both personal and professional, as they engage one-on-one or network.
Seek To Go Deeper In Conversations
Extroverts are good at small talk but not always the best at going deep with conversations. Introverts are good at digging in and seeking out the more meaningful aspects of conversations to form deeper connections.
Nothing pleases a prospect more than individual consideration and attention. According to an Oracle study, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for excellent customer experience. Another study from Accenture reported that 58% of consumers were willing to re-allocate at least half or more of their spending to a brand that excels at personalizing experiences without compromising trust. There is no reason why your prospects should be any different.
So, how about building a team culture that encourages team members to learn new skills and tactics from each other? Ultimately, you need a sales process and system that incorporates all your team members’ unique gifts and helps them hone skills where they may be lacking. When you coach your sales reps and help them achieve sales success, your company can see improvements in sales performance.
Want to hear from a highly successful introvert? Listen to this podcast conversation between self-described introvert Darryl Praill, hailed as one of 2019’s Top 50 Keynote Speakers by Top Sales World, and Mike Kunkle, a celebrated Sales Trainer on ‘How To Succeed Despite Yourself.’ It’s animated and unfiltered, laced with brutal honesty rarely found in the sales world.