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Why Introverts Make the Best Sales People

Why Introverts Make the Best Sales People

What is your idea of a great salesperson?  An email came across my desk the other day that really made me think about this question.  Like so many great ideas, this one is inspired by my loving mother (thanks Mom!). The email she sent had one small statement which really caught my eye:

“Your little brother is about to graduate and I think he should get into real estate sales.  He’d be great at it because he will talk to anyone!”

She’s right on a few points: My little brother is about to graduate, and he is in fact the type of person who will literally go up and speak to anyone. Even if the person isn’t particularly interested, he will just keep talking. It’s charming in a way, but also annoying at times. The area in which I disagree with my mother is about whether or not being willing to go up and talk to anyone makes you an ideal candidate for a sales position.

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When most people hear the word “salesman” , they picture a flashy, overly-smiley guy with smooth words and lots of charm.  He will chat with you for hours about anything and everything, and if he’s really good, he’ll have you handing over your credit card before you even understand what he’s sold you. He’ll collect his nice commission check and move on to the next customer, forgetting all about you.

This doesn’t really describe a true salesperson—this is the description of a con-artist. Sales is really the art of influence and assistance. As a salesman, I help people solve problems that my products or services address. If the potential customer doesn’t have a problem I can address, he’s not someone I will sell to. It’s that simple.

The key to being successful at sales is in understanding what needs drive your customer and how you can help them fulfill those needs. This is where being an introvert is a huge advantage. Most extroverts tend to “wing it” quite often, as a natural tendency: they like to get into a situation and figure things out as they go along, which is a great quality in social settings and creative work. Spontaneity is common and fun is almost guaranteed. This trait will also kill a sales career.  Customers become very suspicious of someone who is constantly smiling, laughing, joking, and talking—we all have an inherent “b.s. meter” that flares up anytime someone begins talking too much.  It’s quite a turn-off, and not conducive to making a customer want to buy.

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This is a field in which introverts excel, as they go about the sales process in a very different fashion.

Introverts:

1 Study their product/service deeply, knowing the strengths, weaknesses, and ideal prospect

Introverts know what they have on a deep level. When you begin speaking to an introverted salesperson, he or she will be scanning their knowledge to judge whether or not they can help you with their offering. Before they even begin to talk to you about what they have, they will determine if you are a good prospect to spend time with. They understand it takes more than a pulse and a wallet to make a good sale.

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2 Prepare their presentations and anticipate objections

I was a sales trainer for 7 years and I never worked with a top producer who would always “wing it.” The best of the best know exactly what they should say in any given situation; they study customer reactions to certain phrases and adjust their vocabulary accordingly, and read a lot of material on how to become better in their profession. Lastly, they realize they will likely only get one shot to present their product, so they make it count.

3 Think about the long-term value of the customer

Many extroverts will have dozens of casual friendships. They can go anywhere and meet people they know, hang out with them for a few hours, then head home. It’s easy to make connections, but because they are connected to so many people, it’s difficult to develop deep relationships. When it comes to sales, this leads to many short-term successes with angry customers on the back-end.

Introverts tend to have fewer, but deeper relationships with their customers. They really want to get to know the customer and help them over time. They aren’t looking for a single sale to get a bonus; they’re building a list of clients they can service for years, which creates a constant stream of referrals and repeat business.  It takes longer to build this type of sales cycle, but it’s the only way to create long-term success.

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So, contrary to popular belief, the talkative, loud, constantly laughing guy is not the “born salesman”; the quiet, introspective, hard-working person is.  That’s not to say extroverts are totally bereft of good sales qualities—the ability to approach people is crucial to sales, as is the capacity to handle rejection well. Introverts need to develop these skills as well. The difference tends to be that introverts will often work hard to develop the extrovert’s skills, while the extroverts will continue to try to get by on their natural charms.

As an extrovert, you can still be a top performer in your field; simply take the best qualities of introverts and pull them into your sales style.  You’ll be topping the charts in no time.

Thanks,

Trent

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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