You look around the room. Hordes of people. Confident people.
You’ve been stood in the same place for too long. They’re all looking at you. Aren’t they?
You’re sweating now. Biting your lip. Picking at your finger nails.
You need to move, because you’ve been standing in the same spot for ten minutes, and you’ve yet to speak to a single person.
You notice a dark corner behind you. A quiet place amid the buzz of the sales chatter.
You reverse slowly, distancing yourself from the crowd who continue to network feverishly, chugging coffee like it’s 1998 and letting out the occasional ‘business’ laugh.
You exhale. You’ve found your own space amongst the chaos. You can finally assess the situation.
An hour in and I’ve not even made an intro, you think. I’ve got a product to sell here.
You give yourself a mental pep talk.
C’mon, smile. Look approachable. Maybe they’ll come to you.
Your pamphlets are beginning to look a bit crumpled. You switch them to the other hand, which you hope is a little less clammy.
Nothing better than a damp flyer to say, ‘don’t buy my product.’
Wait. Is that a person approaching?
You swallow, a nervous shiver tiptoeing down your spine. Your brain stamps on the accelerator, paddling through potential intros like they’re on a sale rail at TKMaxx.
She’s dressed smartly, a dark blazer over a white blouse, crimson lippy, hair scraped back into a tousled bun that says, ‘yeah, I might look professional, but I snowboard at the weekends and occasionally eat with my fingers.’
Oh god. She looks so self-assured.
“Hello,” she says. “So, what are you plugging then?”
“Good thanks, how’re you?” you ask, before realising that your response made no sense whatsoever.
You go to shake her hand. She reaches towards you, but you misjudge it, and awkwardly grab her thumb. You give it a feeble shake, and let out an anxious half-laugh.
She narrows her eyes. You lick your dry lips, nervously.
“I mean, erm, well. I’ve got this new product. It’ll save you money. Customers use it and…and stuff.”
You hand her some information, but your face prickles with heat as you notice the droplets of sweat that you’ve left on the leaflet’s glossy surface.
You hope she won’t notice. Too late. She pauses, her eyes drop to the flyer, and she holds it aloft in the tips of her fingers as though she may catch a disease.
‘OK, thanks. I’ll have a think about it.”
She turns, and a moment later, she’s gone, just another face in the crowd.
You stand there, deflated. You know she’ll never call.
Sound like a familiar ordeal?
Don’t panic. You’re an introvert, and that’s OK.
You don’t like crowds, you find small talk tedious, and you’re socially awkward. You’re the type of person who stays awake at night thinking about that time, eight years ago, when you said goodbye to someone and then set off in the same direction. Or last week when you said hello back to someone who was actually on the phone, and not even talking to you.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t sell.
Yes. Seriously. I work with professionals in the tax and accountancy spaces, daily. Many of them are great at what they do. They’re entrepreneurial, they build amazing companies, but they have one thing in common.
They always struggle to peddle their wares.
But with a few, personalised tweaks, a different approach can work wonders. Here are my tips.
1) Use an intro channel that suits your skills
Good at writing? Use email or social media. You don’t have to pick up the phone to gain a new customer, or upsell to an existing one. Sometimes, a little creativity is all it takes. Use personalised messages. Create engaging content, peppered with valuable advice and expertise.
If you listen to extroverted salespeople, you’ll often notice they talk a lot. They lead the conversation. Do the opposite. You’re an introvert. A natural listener. This can help you to pick up on points that traditional sales types will miss. If you take time to truly understand the customer, you’ll begin to uncover the best way to proposition your product to them.
3) Use the fact that you don’t like selling
OK, you hate selling. So, use it to your advantage! Don’t sell. People hate being sold to. Find common ground during your conversation, use empathy to uncover potential pain points, and make suggestions as to how your product or service could help. You’re advising, not selling.
4) Space customer appointments out in your diary
Social interactions take the wind out of an introvert’s sails. They’re draining. It takes time to recharge, and if you’re seeing one customer after another, chances are you’re not giving them the best version of you. Create some space in your diary, and separate meetings and sales pitches with activities that help to relax you.
5) Avoid large groups
Why go to that huge conference or sales show when you know you’re going spend half the time procrastinating in the toilet, and the other half turning a deep shade of red whilst tripping over your tongue? One thing that introverts tend to do really well, is build meaningful relationships. Less friends, stronger bonds. Use this approach with your customers. One on one coffee appointments work well, hosted in a comfortable environment, like your own office.
6) Get in the zone
And no, I don’t mean you have to stand in front of the mirror, chanting your own name and beating your chest. But it’s important to mentally prepare before any sales related activity. Think about why you love your product. The best sales person in the world can’t sell something he or she doesn’t truly believe in.
It’s not easy. I get it. You’d rather staple your eyeballs and set your hair on fire than cold call a potential client, which is fine, but without sales, you don’t have a business. If you’re going to succeed, you need to look at taking a different approach than that of your extroverted colleagues. Take it slow, play to your strengths, and use your expertise to offer valuable advice and insights.
And, you know what?
The days of the hard sell are gone.
The introverted salesperson is winning.
If you enjoyed this read, you might like to check out, ‘Your staff are smarter than you‘.