Kim Staflund | ,| By
Yes, I said INTROVERTED Salespeople
I’ve never been what you might consider a “natural” salesperson, because I’m not naturally extroverted. I’m a born writer with introverted tendencies who takes great joy in spending countless hours in the solitude of my quiet office with nothing more than my laptop, my pen, my pad of paper, and my creative thoughts to keep me company.
I had a childhood dream of becoming a bestselling author, which forced me to leave the comfort of my literary cocoon over twenty years ago and led to me finding an advertising sales job with a daily newspaper. It was there that I first learned the skills needed to make my lifelong goal a reality—a new artistry I’ve honed over time. And, as an introvert, I hate to brag … but I’m pretty damn good at sales now. Not only have I achieved my goal, but I’ve worked in some type of sales capacity ever since.
Before we discuss how to motivate introverted salespeople, we have to first understand exactly what introversion is. Kendra Cherry’s article titled What Is Introversion? resonates with me: “Introverts tend to be more quiet, reserved, and introspective. Unlike extraverts who gain energy from social interaction, introverts have to expend energy in social situations. After attending a party or spending time in a large group of people, introverts often feel a need to ‘recharge’ by spending a period of time alone.” She then goes on to dispel the myth that introverts are anti-social, which I appreciated very much. The fact is, while we may be more quiet and reserved in unfamiliar group settings, we are often very sociable and talkative around people we know well.
Give Them Room to Thrive
Introverts tend to prefer quality over quantity in our interactions with others. So, for all the sales managers out there who keep forcing everyone into “group cheering squads” and “group sales contests” and “group brainstorming sessions” on a daily or weekly basis, and who are scratching your heads trying to figure out why only half your team appears to be motivated by this, you may want to consider the fact that the other half is more introverted than extroverted. Break things up a bit. “Rah rah sis boom bah” one week. The next week? Give everyone some autonomy and space to come up with creative solutions of their own toward those sales quotas. If you do this, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results the other half brings you. Introverts live more inside the mind. It’s where we thrive.
Economist Milton Friedman once said, “The economic race should not be arranged so everyone arrives at the finish line at the same time but so that everyone starts at the starting line at the same time. The society that puts equality before freedom winds up with neither, but the society that puts freedom before equality will end up with a great measure of both.” I believe the same philosophy holds true in a sales environment. We’ll never be clones. We’ll always be individuals. And each of us, whether introverted or extroverted, has our own strengths and methods toward reaching that finish line—that important sales quota. Celebrate those differences by allowing individuals the opportunity to reflect on and design their own strategies toward the achievement of the team goal. Tell them where the finish line is then let them get there on their own.
Recommended listening: Susan Cain: The power of introverts.