Today's Professional

Today's Professional

Friday, May 11, 2012

An Introvert and A Sales Manager, Is It Possible?

sales introvert

I will be the first to tell you I am shy introvert (most people who know me tend to disagree, but trust me I am). I am a shy introvert to the point of whenever I go into crowd places such as grocery stores, I always have a little anxiety. Being an introvert in a sales position may seem to be a huge hurdle me as my job requires me to talk to people on a daily basis. However, I have found that this trait has actually served to my advantage. This post covers how being an introvert has helped me in my position as sales and marketing manager.


When most people hear the word salesman, they think of loud and obnoxious (Example: Todd Packer from The Office). I know this is not the case, and that for the most part, sales people get a bad wrap. Especially the ones who understand the sales process and don't work of the classic scripts. That is the ones who don't start questions with, "what if I were to ask you...?" or "In your mind of the three feature I listed, what do you feel is the most valuable?"

So, we have established that most sales people aren't loud and obnoxious. However, most sales people are outgoing and extroverts. This is defiantly a strength to have, as being a salesperson requires an outgoing personality. There however is a subgroup of sales people who are introverts. I myself am in that group and here is why it has helped me in my position.

1. I let the other person talk more.

By being an introvert, I am not inclined to hearing myself talk. I tend to think through what I am going to say, analyze it and then say it. This also allows for me to listen to the clients and potential clients more than they have to listen to me. By doing this, I have a much better opportunity to hear where the clients needs lie, analyze how our solution can resolve their issues or pains if you will.

Listening to a client or a potential client is the most important thing a sales person can do. Customers do not want to hear about your company, they want to know what you can do for their company. Being an introvert naturally allows me to be quiet, listen, and analyze as the customer talks.

2. I like a systematic process that tells me what to do

A characteristic of being an introvert is that you like systems. You like to have an answer to questions and you like to know your actions are going to work. This has served me well in developing sales processes and systematic approaches to dealing with customers.

When I took over in my position, there were no set systems. My predecessor was an extrovert and excellent sales person. He was what Keith Eades defines as an Eagle. He knew how to talk to people and would get results from shooting from the hip. While this works for others, I needed a plan, steps to follow. I implemented a systematic approach to the sales process, as a sort of guideline and safety net to keep me on the path of closing sales. This process has led to the two largest sales in company history.

3. I prefer to communicate in writing.

I am far more comfortable expressing my thoughts in writing rather than through spoken words. As such, I am able to utilize email to express the values of our product, and the technicalities. There are times when it is more appropriate to pick up the phone, I definitely realize this. However, I have utilized my ability to communicate clearly in writing to my advantage.

When speaking to a client, if a complex question is asked, I will provide the answer and then inform them I will follow up with more details in an email. I then write the answer and utilize tools like MS Visio to provide a visualization. This process allows me to show my depth of knowledge through answering the question, then providing more concrete proof of concept via a written explanation. Often times with this approach clients have referenced the email as the evidence they needed to make their decision.

4. What I say holds more value at meetings.

I am not a fan of meetings that are meant for people to hear themselves talk and express their authority. I am a fan of meetings that serve a purpose. Meeting that go something like this:

What's the issue? Do we have the resources to resolve the issue? Yes- allocate the resources. No-delegate or find the resolution. Define next steps and action items. Adjourned.

When in meetings, whether internal or external, I tend to only speak when I have something to say that is on the topic or speak in an effort to remain on topic. Similar to my first point, this allows me to identify the problems and root causes and then make my suggestions on resolution. A meeting room full of hot air and multiple voices trying to hear themselves never leads to success.

5. No pressure approach.

By being introverted, I tend to keep the pressure off the potential clients. In most sales circles this is considered a vital mistake. However, if the solution is right for the client, the perceived value does not have to be forced. From there, payment policies, and other process put the pressure to move to the next step naturally.

By not pressuring clients, a more beneficial relationship is developed. I see that clients who made their decision based on their own process pace are much more satisfied and experience less buyers remorse than those who were pressured.

I would love to hear your thought on the topic of being an introvert in your work environment. Please feel free to comment below.

2 comments:

  1. I would love to know what the systematic approach was that you developed. I am an introvert, also working in a sales position. I always have trouble with the initial approach, especially if I don't already have a name or contact person.
    Thanks
    Sue

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  2. Hi Sue,
    Thanks for your comment. Making initial contact has always been most difficult for me as well. The first piece of advice is to brand yourself as an expert and try to get the clients to call you. If this isn't possible then I recommend doing your homework before the initial call. Make the call a warm call as opposed to a cold call.

    What I mean by this is do your research into the company so you don't have to ask the question "Can you tell me a little about your company?" Go into the conversation with some knowledge about the company, the pains they most likely have, and how your product or service is a solution that meets those needs.

    As far as my systematic approach. I think that requires its own blog post :)

    Take care,

    Matt

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