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While researchers have difficulty determining the exact numbers, it is estimated that somewhere between 16% and 50% of all people are introverts. Contrary to many stereotypes, being introverted does not mean the same thing as being shy. It actually has to do with the wiring of the brain. But in such an outgoing profession as sales, is there a place for introverts?
At first glance, it is understandable how people would assume extroverts have a leg up in sales. They have little trouble talking to strangers and aren’t afraid to approach others. They seem to have the gift of gab and can avoid those awkward lulls in a conversation.
While those can be fantastic qualities that help a person professionally, here are three areas in which introverts have the distinct advantage over extroverts:
One of the top qualities of a sales professional is having the ability to ask the right questions. Asking questions is how we determine the true needs of a client. This is the part where we find out if there are any pain points in the client’s current situation or with one of their vendors. A downside to being an extrovert who enjoys talking is that sometimes you forget to ask the questions that will ultimately lead you down the path to a sale. An extrovert may actually talk themselves out of getting a sale through not truly understanding a client’s needs and wants while an introvert can have the natural bent to ask questions, truly wanting to get to know more about that client.
Asking a question and not listening to the answer is an exercise in futility. Listening may be the number one quality of a good salesperson. As a sales professional, your goal is to paint a picture for your client of what will happen when they purchase your product or service. But how can you know what picture to paint if you aren’t listening to them describe what is important to them? An obviously absurd example of this would be a customer shopping for a hybrid car and being shown an SUV by their salesperson. While that is an extreme example, how many times do clients give brief glimpses into their thought process that are missed?
Sometimes the salesperson is too busy thinking of the next thing he is going to say to actually hear the customer speak. Other times, he just can’t handle the brief silence while the client is trying to come up with the answer so he keeps on going, essentially trying to answer the question for the client. Either way, an introvert can have the advantage if he truly listens and then moves to a question based off the answer he just heard.
We’ve all heard the adage that customers buy from people they like. This is also the key for repeat and referral business. So how much does developing a relationship with your customer determine your future success? If you’ve taken the time to get to know your customer, preferably at a deeper and human level, that customer is likely to feel a connection with you. Why would they go somewhere else when you already know them — their business, family, likes and dislikes? If you’ve taken the time to get to know them and they feel that connection to you, they are far more likely to bring you more repeat business in the long run.
There tends to be a cartoon-like caricature in the media of what a salesperson looks like. It’s the overbearing closer who gets in the customer’s face and can somehow get them to buy what they’re selling in spite of how obnoxious they might be. But as any true sales professional knows, that is far from reality. It’s time for introverts to stop buying into this caricature and realize that they actually hold a distinct advantage in the sales game for creating a long-term relationship with clients who actually enjoy doing business with them and appreciate what they have to offer.
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