June 4, 2018 6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
A lot has been written about famous introverted entrepreneurs and about how introverts possess skills that naturally lend themselves to business success. What I haven’t seen yet are many specific, actionable steps introverts can take to compensate for some of the challenges that come along with this personality type.
Related: 20 Creative Ways for Introverts to Make Money
That’s why I want to break down how I personally earned to close sales as an introvert. If I can do it, so can you.
First of all, I think we need to look at the emotions we have attached to the word “selling.” For most introverts -- myself included -- the word induces fear, whether that be fear that we’ll come across as awkward, or fear that our natural tendencies will cause us to lose sales.
But what I’ve learned throughout my career is that sales really just means communicating. Any time you’re talking to customers or communicating with somebody internally, that's sales.
If you’re talking to an employee, that's maintaining morale; it’s keeping and retaining those employees.
But the same thing applies whether you’re talking to prospects or customers. If you can learn to think about sales as just communicating, you can take away some of the fear associated with it.
That said, even just “communicating” doesn’t always come naturally to introverts. I’ve always felt that I lack interpersonal skills. At first, this was a big problem, given the way my company (or many other companies) closes new deals.
When a prospect is interested in Web Profits’ agency services, we’ll jump on a call to discuss whether or not we’d be a good fit together. In a perfect world, I’d lead these calls, smoothly steering the conversation from our introductions through to a successful close.
In reality, however, I’m awkward. I’m a details guy, and I like to get straight down to business. I struggle with small talk, and -- unfortunately - that can come across as my being abrupt or disinterested when I’m talking to new prospects.
Related: 4 Networking Tips for Introverts
I make it clear that this is what’s going to happen in the call, so that my listener doesn't see my behavior as that of an introvert. Instead, people are thinking, “Oh, wow, what’s this call going to be about?”
Part of my initial awkwardness on sales calls stemmed from the fact that, at first, I didn’t really know what to say when I got somebody on the phone. Because I was approaching the calls as a practitioner, I wanted to talk about the details and just get to the point.
What I learned to do instead was to ask questions. When you don’t know what to say, posing questions is a great tactic. Now, if I’m afraid I might come off as awkward, I lead with something like this:
“Hey, thanks for jumping on this call. Before we get into the details, I want to talk about your business a little more. I’m going to ask you what seem like basic questions, but when we get into it, you’ll see why these things matter.”
The book How to Talk to Anyone helped me develop this approach. By teeing up the conversation like this, I’m putting the burden communicate on the prospect. That way,the conversation isn't awkward for me. I’m just listening and trying to understand how I can help.
Another thing that’s been helpful for me has been bringing on a sales development rep. Because I know I’m going to be awkward at the start of the call, I have my SDR start off the call and queue up the conversation for me so that I can jump into the nitty-gritty details without the pressure of small talk.
In general, most introverts have problems at the beginning and the end of their sales calls. Hiring an SDR -- or whatever other support you need -- can help make the calls tidier.
Closing out calls is, again, hard for me. So, instead of worrying about it, I invest in follow-up.
When I get off a call, I’ll send a really detailed email with all the follow-up steps I proposed, prioritizing them by impact and including any helpful resources I can think of to put them into action. That way, even if the call ended awkwardly, the email I send 10 to 15 minutes later detailing the things we discussed and next steps will leave a good taste in our prospect's mouth.
I’ve found that people can tell when you’re smiling. Focusing on smiling when I’m on a call helps me get out of my natural, awkward state. I also love listening to music that pumps me up before calls. High-tempo running mixes are great; choose whatever you’d use to get yourself pumped up for a workout.
Related: Why Freelancing Is Perfect for Introverts
Music won’t turn you from an introvert into an extrovert, of course; but it will help you get over the natural shyness and hesitation most introverts face.
Got another tip on closing sales as an introvert? Leave it below in the comments: