How to sell even when you're awkward and introverted

by Steli Efti
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Sales managers often expect their reps to have the charisma of Don Draper. They want you to be suave, they want you to be proactive, and they want you to have a certain way with clients. 

It’s true: The sales profession is often associated with folks that have those qualities—in other words, the qualities of an extrovert. 

But what if you aren’t that quintessential salesperson? What if talking to people doesn’t come so naturally? How can you make sure that you’re still closing deals, without feeling overwhelmed? 

Let us assure you that “introverts can’t sellis a big lie that needs to be shattered. In this post, we’re going to share four tips for overcoming self-doubt or social awkwardness and selling with confidence.

Let’s get started! 

1. Play to your strengths 

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It can be very tempting to imitate the pitching style of the person who’s closing sales and overachieving on their numbers each month—it’s only human to copy success. 

You might think it’s a good strategy to be more like that person, but here’s the thing:

Maybe they’re an extrovert, and you aren’t. 

If you want to win, you need to play to your strengths, not someone else’s. By doing so, you’re less likely to make mistakes. That’s because you’ll be in your element. 

But how can you pinpoint your strengths when it comes to pitching? 

To narrow it down, do some soul searching and list the attributes that make you and your pitching style unique. Think of what your customers have praised you for in the past. Did they find your pitch resourceful? Did they say you’re a good listener who asks great questions? Did they like your follow-up style?

What was it that made them listen to you? 

You can also ask colleagues or even your boss to share their feedback on your pitching style. Give a pitch to your friends, and let them tell you exactly what they liked. Focus on those strengths as you craft future pitches. It won’t be long before your individuality shines through and your pitches yield more success. 

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2. Practice your pitch 

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Introverts take longer to process information than extroverts, according to a study published in the Journal of Motor Behavior in 2008

At first, you might think this is bad news for introverted sales reps, but that’s not the case—it simply means introverts process information more thoughtfully, which is an asset for a salesperson who’s trying to connect with a prospect. Extroverted sales reps are often so eager to pitch their solution that they miss out on the little things that matter to the prospect. 

However, thoughtfulness can also be a hurdle when a prospect starts bombarding you with questions; the moments of silence or awkward fumbling as you process and respond to their objections might jeopardize the sale. 

So how can you better prepare yourself for situations like that? 

Rehearsing your pitch and your responses to potential objections is one way to succeed. Another tip is being observant —see where the prospect is leading the conversation and speak up when you’ve fully understood their query. 

Asking low-pressure questions to steer the conversation is another tip that you can use. 

Something like “I’m excited about this conversation; how can I help you?” will establish that you’re leading the conversation and invite questions at a time when you’re prepared to respond.

Chances are your carefully considered insights are going to resonate with the prospect more than an extrovert’s.

3. Do your homework to show you care

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Just like extroverted sales reps, you have every intention of building a rapport with your prospects. But because you tend to focus more on listening than talking, prospects might assume you’re not really interested in selling, don’t know enough about the product, or don’t care about the people you’re selling to. 

Extroverts, on the other hand, are always eager to initiate conversations, probe prospects for more info and even engage in a little small talk to put them at ease.

These traits seem at odds. But what if there were a way to bring all these qualities together? Wouldn’t that be a great recipe for success? 

By investing time in research—staying on top of industry trends, acquainting yourself with the problems your prospects encounter on a daily basis—you can significantly improve your conversations. 

You’ll have enough content to keep the conversation moving and to confidently educate your prospects about the benefits of using your product. 

This coupled with your active listening capabilities will empower you to close more deals without feeling stressed. 

4. Audit your performance 

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Deliver, improve, impact—if you’re an introvert, this should be your mantra for selling. The most important bit is “improve,” and you do that by auditing your performance. 

Start by evaluating your performance each month—not just the numbers but the process. Consider how you approached recent sales conversations and find moments that stood out. What worked? What could have been better? What should you stop doing entirely?

Listening to your sales recordings can come in handy here—this will help you catch the nuances of your performance and empower you to do better. 

Remember that auditing your performance after the fact is as important as practicing your pitch and fine-tuning your objection handling strategy. Omitting this step can undermine all the hard work you’ve put in to make your pitches shine. 

Now over to you 

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When self-doubts cross your mind, remember these four tips:

  1. Play to your strengths
  2. Practice your pitch
  3. Do your homework to show you care
  4. Audit your performance

Being an extrovert is highly prized for salespeople—and we get it. But stereotypes shouldn’t stand in your way of being a top sales rep. With these four tips in your arsenal, you’re ready to reach your quota. 

Also check out my advice on selling with disadvantages and selling with an accent!

Go get ’em!

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