Being an introvert can be challenging when you're in a workplace environment, particularly one that involves a lot of group interaction. That's because introverts typically draw their energy from spending time alone, and often feel overwhelmed in crowds or at multi-person meetings.
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It's for these reasons that some introverts shy away from sales careers, avoiding the need to attend industry events, present at packed trade shows, and wine and dine clients in the hopes of snagging new accounts. The reality, however, is that introverts can be just as successful at sales as extroverts, who love nothing more than to mingle with strangers. If you're an introvert, here are a few ways to get ahead in the sales world.
1. Focus on one-on-one interactions
Contrary to what some folks may have been led to believe, introverts are more than capable of carrying on conversations. (In other words, they have social skills.) That said, the typical introvert would probably rather sit down and speak with new clients individually than hobnob with throngs of executives at conferences and gatherings. If that sounds like you, then, by all means, take it slow and develop relationships with clients one by one.
If attending large-scale events doesn't suit you, skip them, or pop in sporadically, and connect with clients in an environment that better falls within your comfort zone. You might, for example, be better off inviting a single contact to lunch and pitching your product, rather than attempting to reign in a room full of people.
2. Be a great listener
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Introverts have a key advantage in the general work space -- they tend to be really good listeners -- though extroverts are more than capable of sharing this quality, too. And while salespeople might stereotypically come across as smooth talkers, knowing how to listen can be even more important when it comes to landing accounts and building relationships.
It's easy enough to aggressively pitch a product and push a customer to buy in, but if that customer winds up unhappy because the product doesn't serve his or her needs, you're not going to gain much business in the long run. On the other hand, if you take the time to hear what that customer is really looking for, you might manage to tailor a solution that keeps him or her on board for years to come.
3. Ask for referrals
Just as attending bustling industry events can be an uncomfortable experience for introverts, so, too, can cold calling customers in an effort to drum up sales. If that's the case, then a better bet may be to request that your existing, satisfied customers refer you to new ones. This way, you'll have a natural introduction in place, and you won't have to experience the awkwardness of introducing yourself to a complete stranger and waiting to see whether he or she hangs up immediately, or keeps listening.
4. Communicate on your own terms
When it comes to building relationships, it's hard to take the place of face-to-face interactions. But that isn't to say that you need to sit down with clients in person all the time. If you'd rather not be that social, use your preferred method of communication, whether it's the telephone, or good old email.
Will the latter come off as impersonal? Maybe, if you do it all the time and never give your customers the courtesy of a meeting. Furthermore, email may not be the best approach to take for new clients with whom your relationship is not yet established. But if you're dealing with an existing client, there's no rule saying that you must take that person out to dinner once a month to maintain that account. Touch base regularly, address that client's needs, and with any luck, things will continue to go smoothly.
Just because you're an introvert doesn't mean you automatically should rule out a sales career. Like extroverts, introverts can find the world of sales both lucrative and rewarding. If you need to tweak your tactics to suit your personality, so be it.
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