Todd Martin

Todd Martin

Sales Strategy

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Why Introverts Can Stumble at Presenting, But Shine at Sales

May 31, 2015

So you’re an introvert, but you chose sales as a career? How your inborn traits can work for you.

It may seem odd on the surface that someone whose personality leans to the introverted side would choose to go into a profession where social confidence is pretty important.

But there’s a difference between being introverted and being shy. It would be difficult for a truly shy person to be in a sales job where numerous social contacts were required daily.

If you wanted to unload a personal or professional problem on someone, you’d most likely choose someone who listened well, synthesized the information you shared with them, and asked a lot of questions before responding. Someone who treated what you said to them as more important than what you had to say.

Those are some of the traits that both introverts and the best salespeople have.

Finding Solutions

The job of a salesperson is to make sales. But when you think about it, salespeople are really problem-solvers. People buy stuff for a lot of reasons – sometimes, just to buy stuff – but the merchandise they purchase will help them in some way.

While I was at the mall the other day, I went into a Pearle Vision store because I needed a pair of reading glasses. I asked a salesperson if they sold them, and she led me to a  corner of the store. “But,” she half-whispered, “We don’t really have much of a selection. You might try Barnes and Noble.”

That’s like sending a Macy’s customer to Gimbels, if you remember the scene from the old Christmas movie, and I’m not suggesting that as a regular approach or you and your family will starve. Plus it was clear what problem I was presenting. But this saleswoman didn’t just try to make a sale. She understood my need and evaluated whether her store would provide the best solution for me.

More Thought, Less Talk

It’s the thought process that I’m getting to here with this overly-simple example. Usually you have to dig a little to uncover the need. And introverts are experts at that. I think they can be excellent salespeople because:

  • They tend to talk less and listen more.
  • They probably developed their social skills using that combination of traits, being more comfortable asking questions than expounding on a topic.
  • They’ve learned how to draw people out, and don’t miss snippets of what the other person is saying because they’re readying their own response.
  • They’re comfortable spending time alone, and they often use those hours to read and absorb information in other ways.

I’m not extrovert-bashing here or setting up an extrovert vs. introvert fight. People with both types of personalities can make very successful sales professionals. I’m just trying to dispel the notion that you must be talkative and outgoing and socially confident to make a living at this work we’ve chosen.

Some Downsides

The characteristics that can make an introvert good at sales also give them an edge in the short-attention-span world of social media. They’re used to making their points more succinctly than someone who enjoys the spotlight.

But being an introvert can make it difficult to do live presentations with an expectant audience staring at them. Still, this self-awareness has two advantages even here:

  • Presentations may be more participatory, and,
  • More painstaking preparation may be done to avoid the dreaded what-do-I-say-next moments.

There’s plenty of gray area in personality traits, and I think a lot of people have some of both introverted and extroverted characteristics. But I do believe that introverts should not look with envy on salespeople who have the easygoing gift of gab. They should use their own way of relating to their advantage.

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