By Sachin Shenolikar
We’ve all encountered “typical” salespeople. They’re smooth talkers. They’re extremely outgoing, even a little pushy. That’s just what it takes to do the job well, right?
The most successful salespeople have certain qualities in common: They’re great listeners, pick up cues from customers, ask smart questions, and know when and how to advance a sale. “None of those capabilities rule out the introvert,” says Nikolaus Kimla, an author and managing partner of Pipelinersales, Inc.
“Anyone committed to selling can be a successful salesperson,” he adds. “There’s no reason an introvert can’t be persistent and persuasive.”
In fact, in today’s digital age, introverts may actually hold an edge over extroverts when it comes to connecting with customers and working out a deal. Here’s how:
1. Introverts Won’t Bore Clients. We live in an age where attention spans are miniscule and time is extremely precious. The last thing customers want is a salesperson who yammers on and on. What they do want is someone who is interested in helping them.
“Introverts seem to intuitively understand that human beings have one mouth and two ears for a good reason,” says Kimla. “They can hone listening skills, and they can frontload a sales meeting with careful research so that they have something worthwhile to contribute.”
2. Introverts Are Low Drama. A brash personality can be a turnoff for customers. The best thing salespeople can do is put their egos aside and use the insights they’ve learned from customers to come up with a solution. “What will resonate with any prospect is a thoughtful, intelligent discussion that shows a salesperson is able to understand the customer’s true strategic needs,” says Kimla.
This style is called challenger sales — it hinges on sales reps being able to synthesize information on the spot and demonstrate their company’s value within that context.
“They listen actively and ask the right questions,” says Kimla. “They understand the difference between consulting and making a sales pitch, and they’re able to correlate information in the moment, and contribute in a way that builds confidence.”
3. Introverts are Perfect for the Digital Age. Mastering social media has become a must in sales, and there’s a subtlety to being great at it. Being overly aggressive, forcing your way into Twitter conversations, and overtly hawking your products just won’t work.
Add in the fact that being long-winded just doesn’t cut it in social media. “Introverts may feel more comfortable becoming acquainted with prospects in 140-character “soundbites,” or are perhaps able to share advice with their contacts more easily in writing than they can in person,” says Kimla.
The bottom line is that being a great salesperson isn’t about just making one deal. It’s about creating and nurturing strong, lasting relationships. “Studies have shown that introverts excel at long-term relationship building,” says Kimla.
“There will always be shining stars in sales, as in every profession,” he adds. “But it’s possible that introverts may actually have an edge in creating the right environment for a mutually beneficial sale — simply by being themselves.”
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to keep up with all of RealBusiness’ original stories.