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According to Psychology Today, up to 50 percent of the population can be described as introverted. While significant publications like The Atlas of Types Table (Macdaid et al., 1994) describe the sales industry as predominantly populated by extroverts, it does not describe your customer base. This means that while your unbridled zest and enthusiasm will win you points in the office, and many customers, you’ll need to try a different approach to appeal to introverts.
The Five Characteristics of an Introvert, and How to Use Them
Luckily, a wealth of research has gone into defining exactly what an introvert is, and what their preferences are when it comes to communication and forming relationships (however short).
In brief, introverts have five key preferences:
The desire to get to the point quickly, without small talk or airs and graces.
They are guarded, playing their hand close to their chest.
They are keenly attuned to duplicity and the inauthentic.
Thus, they want to be approached in a unique manner.
Nothing sparks the in-authenticity antenna of an introvert more than a string of sales pitches they’ve heard five times already that day, small talk they’ve heard a thousand times, or labored hype.
All of this represents quite a challenge for the ordinarily extroverted salesperson. These five characteristics demand that the salesperson drops their pitch. Introverts commonly regard themselves as unable or unwilling to put up a pretense or a show for any length of time. A definite way to win their hearts is to approach them from a ‘no nonsense’, everyday, “I’m a salesperson, and my name is” rather than “I’m here to change your life. Sign here” game plan. Aim for a smart-casual style, saving the bells and whistles of your product’s blatant glory for those who will share your enthusiasm.
Dropping the Pitch Without Dropping the Pitch
This sounds like a Zen riddle, but in reality, it points to the introverts need to feel an honest connection with those they are speaking too, in order to feel safe enough to come out of their shell.
What ‘dropping the pitch’ means understanding it sufficiently for it to become second nature, so you can ‘ad lib’ and adapt in the moment, tailoring it to suit the individual you’re selling to. Remember that in all likelihood extroverts have been badgering this introvert for years, rather than accepting their introverted nature on it’s own terms.
There is a very fine line between small talk and approaching your shy potential customer as an individual. Many such characters are highly aware social observers, and you probably have only a handful of seconds to reel them in with a first impression. How do you do this? Set the playing field by letting them make the first move, letting them feel like they’re giving the conversation/pitch direction. Let them know in your manner—your body language and tone—that they are free to engage only as much or as little as they like. They will provide clues and indications when a particular tactic is working well, as these indications are permissions, on a subtle level, to proceed further.
Turning The Tables
The main difference is that rather than using techniques like ‘Jones-ing’ to compel your potential customer, you’re looking for clues from them and in most cases having to adapt your pitch to fit chinks in their armor. It can seem like hard work, and you’ll probably wonder whether you’d get a higher conversion rate from sticking with extroverted customers. However, what introverts lack regarding initial (or at least open) enthusiasm, they make up for many times over in loyalty. These are the lifetime members, the loyal followers, the enduring supporters of the enterprise you represent.
Remember that you’re dropping the pitch without dropping the pitch – you’re waiting for their cue to enter the sales arena from a particular perspective, which they find most appealing. And just because you’re trying to limit small talk doesn’t mean you go without an introduction. Just keep it short and make it appeal to the introvert quickly, by finding a lead. There will be one, and selling to introverts is perhaps the most task you have as a salesperson because it won’t be given up easily.
Introverts are still people, they are still customers and consumers, and will react to the same cues provided that you have signaled to them that it is safe or meaningful enough for them to do so. Try to approach them with curiosity – actively wonder what’s going through their head and how they tick. Approaching from this standpoint provides you the time and ground for tailoring your pitch.
Written By: Alen Majer
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