Why introverts make the best salespeople

Sep 02, 2019

Always be closing? Not so fast....

There are several common myths that impact how people see selling. The “ABC” sales mindset, illustrated by Alec Baldwin in the movie "Glengarry Glen Ross," is possibly the most ubiquitous myth that influenced a generation of salespeople. This coupled with companion myths such as “sales is just a numbers game” and “every no gets you closer to a yes” gave license to hordes of semi-ethical salesmen to ram aggressive presentations down the throats of as many people as possible to hit their sales goals.

But is this the only way to reach ​your​ target customers? In a word, no. It is not.

The more complex and technical the sale, the less effective sleazy, quick-buck, short-term focus sales techniques will be. In fact, using them will guarantee long-term failure for companies whose customers expect to be listened to and understood.

Technical or complex products must be sold by someone with a consultant’s (not a predator’s) mindset. Consultative mindset, listening, and technical understanding... those are innate traits of introverts.

It's true that introverts do not possess the natural “gift of gab” that people-oriented extroverts enjoy. It is also true that if an introvert chooses to sell a product that truly is “a numbers game” sale or one that requires aggressive, close-them-now-or-never tactics like used car sales, they are at a disadvantage.

But most products of significant value do not lend themselves to these dated, aggressive sales techniques.

Why?

Because as the sale gets more complex, proper diagnosis of the customer’s needs becomes more and more critical to a successful outcome. Someone who is a better listener (like an introvert) suddenly has a HUGE advantage over someone who doesn’t know when to be quiet.

Don’t get me wrong, I love extroverts — I’m married to one. She is exciting and fun and uses her people skills to lead effectively as a nurse. But many extroverted salespeople fall prey to the “show up and throw up” method of selling — spewing words at a mile a minute to the prospect (victim) who simply waits for the barrage to end so they can get them out of their office.

This is why smart, professional, technical people can be highly effective at building trust with buyers who ​need​ to know that you understand their requirements. Aggressive sales techniques may work occasionally but will not result in high-value long-term customer relationships when a consultative sale is needed.

So, do you have to enjoy talking to people all the time to be a good tech or engineering salesperson? No. Not at all. To be quite honest, I crave solitude after extended customer interactions or seminars. But it is the technical challenge of solving the customer’s problem combined with a true desire to help the customer win that makes the process fulfilling.

To summarize, here are three specific advantages of introverts over extroverts in complex sales:

1)  Introverts are better listeners.

They are. No argument. This is key to establishing trust and credibility in a complex sale.

2)  Introverts are deep thinkers.

Rather than focusing on a “quick close,” introverts will focus on finding the best solution for customers, even if it takes a little longer. Customers appreciate the attention to detail and will come back again and again once they see you as a trusted resource.

3)  Introverts are excellent strategists.

Time and territory management, analysis of situations and creative solutions, all come very naturally to an introvert.

If you are a technical-minded person who needs to influence others or sell, I hope you find this article encouraging. You are better equipped than you think for success with people in business.

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send us your blog post.

Jeff McKinney

Jeff S McKinney is an introverted nuclear engineer turned professional salesperson. Contact ​him at jeff@jeffsmckinney.com​ for coaching, or visit jeffsmckinney.com​ for info.