Note: Upon her indictment on federal money laundering charges and her arrest February 8, 2022, Inc. dismissed Heather Morgan as a contributing columnist. As is our practice, we do not unpublish editorial content, and rather have added this note for full transparency.
A growing number of sales experts agree that the age of the pushy salesperson is over.
At one point in history, salespeople had to be extroverts because of the nature of selling (face-to-face cold calling, followed by cold phone calls). However, technology has changed the way we sell, so that a well-written cold email sent to a well-researched list of contacts is way more effective than calling a bunch of numbers.
I have absolutely nothing against extroverts, and many successful salespeople and entrepreneurs are just that. But nowadays, you don't have to love networking, social mixers, or pitching a room full of people to be an effective salesperson. In fact, I'd argue that introverts and awkward personalities have a better chance of thriving in the digital sales world than their more talkative counterparts.
With that in mind, here are three ways to use your introverted side to become a more effective salesperson.
1. Don't try to hide your introverted side.
You don't have to have the smoothness of a politician to be good at your sales job. In fact, trying to play the role of the big talker or the ultra-suave guy when you're not usually just makes everyone else uncomfortable. Potential clients can spot fakeness a mile away, after all.
Instead, consider how you can appear engaged and invested in the prospective customer without running your mouth constantly. One friend of mine--who happens to be very quiet by nature--relies heavily on facial expressions and body language. Through them, she can channel her interest in the potential client's pain points while still letting that person do most of the talking.
Simply nodding your head and making eye contact can signal, "I want to hear more about this issue," which in turn can relax the other person and create a friendly, productive meeting environment.
2. Be selective when attending public events.
So you can't stand conferences, receptions, and other work-related events. That doesn't limit you in terms of meeting potential buyers who will find your product or service relevant.
But rather than go from conference to conference pretending to enjoy all the chatter, just pick a handful of events where you're absolutely certain you'll find qualified potential customers. You can do this by scouring attendee lists, looking at speaker lineups, and asking contacts in your industry (over email) if they plan to attend.
We all have to go to some events, but way less than many think. Early in my career, I thought I had to be at every single conference or I would miss out on big opportunities. I quickly realized I do myself no favors by spending all that energy on something I'm just not good at and don't even like.
I've found it much more effective to reserve my energy for a select few gatherings and spend the rest of my time doing what I do best: making connections through cold emails.
3. Harness the power of technology.
I might suck at conferences, but I can write cold emails that get more responses than anyone else.
I've spent a long time learning how to create the kinds of email campaigns that can start conversations at scale, and the results are encouraging. At this point, I can build a list of 100 contacts, write a few email templates to send to them, and schedule those templates in about an hour. And I never have to leave my desk.
On the other hand, just because I conduct most of my business with technology doesn't mean I have to stay at my desk. Thanks to cloud and mobile technologies, focusing your sales efforts on email means you can connect with potential buyers just about anywhere, which gives you the upper hand over those who prefer cold calling. Sure, theoretically you might be able to conduct cold calls from an airport, but you'd get quite a few interruptions from the loudspeakers and nearby conversations, and have a difficult time hearing the other person. No such problems exist if you're sending emails.
One thing to note when thinking about your quieter side or interacting with someone else's: being an introvert does not mean lacking confidence. Often in business settings, quietness is seen as a negative trait, as if the person is somehow not as good or reliable at their job. Fortunately, this stereotype is changing.
So the next time you feel pressured into pretending to be an extrovert, use it as an opportunity to display your real, introverted self instead. You'll be pleasantly surprised at the results.