LRFotS Kapios reminded me a while back that it’s been a long time since I wrote up a post about introversion. So I figured it’s about high time that I rectified this little oversight. Today’s post is all about how and why introverts can become very, very good at something that we generally loathe. That’s right – if you are an introvert, you can easily become a highly convincing and effective salesman, persuader, and influencer. And by the latter, I’m NOT talking about becoming like the Instasloots that I feature every Monday and Friday around here. I’m talking about learning how to influence people through integrity, calmness, quiet, and the ability to demonstrate active listening. Master those basic skills, learn the power of the introverted salesman, and you will rapidly see your value increase in any organisation that you work within or associate with.
Introversion is a Strength
It is not easy to be an introvert in a world that pushes groupwork – and the resulting groupthink – on all of us, all of the time. Pretty much every business, and business school, puts very heavy emphasis on group activities. This is anywhere from irritating to outright unbearable for most real introverts. We can take it, up to a point. But beyond that point, we simply shut down and want nothing more to do with people.
This can make us seem rather unfriendly and unlikable to most people. To an extroverted world, introverts are fundamentally weird, and all of you know it. You’ve felt it and seen it. We do not apologise for this fact. However, there are significant benefits to introversion – not least of which is the ability to work independently, without human contact.
In this respect, the recent Global Kung Flu Scamdemic has proven to be something of a huge blessing. There is a LOT to be said in favour of putting all meetings on Zoom. If you can simply shut down your camera while in a big meeting and get on with real work, so much the better. You don’t have to contribute or do anything. You can just get on with the business of doing what you want.
This is but one of several core strengths of the (extreme) introvert. Let me tell you about another – and let me tell you how you can harness it for your benefit.
The Tale of Two Sales
This goes back to when I were a wee lad, in Aussieland. At that time, my father’s high-flying corporate job permitted him to drive a very fancy leased car. But we also needed a simple runabout so that my mum could ferry us kiddies around.
So, on one cloudy and slightly chilly autumn day – remember, the seasons are all bassackwards in Aussieland – we went out to look for a second-hand car for my mum.
One of the first places we visited was a Honda used-car dealership. The salesman there was your stereotypical used-car type – big, brash, loud, extroverted. He barely stopped talking long enough to listen to Didact Sr. – also an extreme introvert, by the way – tell him what we wanted. After showing us a bunch of different cars, we settled on a test drive of a Honda Civic (I think). My dad drove it for about 10 minutes and we brought it back to the lot. He told the salesman that there was a problem with the steering and wheel alignment. The salesman promptly got huffy and walked off.
Needless to say, we didn’t go back there again.
A week or two later, we drove over to a Toyota dealership and met with a VERY different type of salesman. This chap was quiet, laconic, and gentlemanly. He shook my dad’s hand, had a smoke with him, and listened intently as my parents explained what they wanted. Then he took us over to look at a few Corollas and Camrys. My mum test-drove a big white Toyota Camry with very heavy steering. She pronounced herself satisfied and we bought the car pretty much right there and then.
Listen and Learn
Now, at no point did the chap from Toyota try to hard-sell anything. Nor did he push his views on us. He simply showed us that he understood exactly what we wanted.
This is how introverts behave. It is one of our core strengths. You can, and absolutely should, learn how to leverage it.
As Susan Cain points out in her superb book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, introverts actually make very good salespeople. This comes as a surprise to many, given the stereotype of salespeople as pushy and loud. That stereotype exists for a REASON. It is spot-on about 70% or so of the time, by my estimation.
But, the BEST sales types that I have ever seen are NOT extroverts. They are introverts, to a man (or woman).
Why? Precisely because they embody the traits seen above in the Toyota sales rep.
The skills and abilities that make these introverts good at what they do, exist in you as well, my introverted friend. Here is how you unlock them.
Succeed as an Introvert
All you have to do is to allow your natural introverted tendencies to work for you, instead of against you. Here is how to do it:
1. Always Do Your Homework
More than any other factor, this one determines the success of an introvert in any venture. This is the trait that has saved my ass on more occasions than I care to count. It all comes down to the fact that I KNOW MY SHIT.
Whether I go into job interviews, client presentations, networking events, or meet-and-greets, I do my research. And people recognise that very quickly. Just the other day, I met with some people who gave a talk about the energy industry. Because I have worked in that industry in the past, and maintain something of an interest in it, I did some research about renewables and the company’s new business strategy before I went in.
And it showed.
Whereas everyone else asked for advice and help, I asked about their business. While others came across as complaining and needy, I came across as articulate, knowledgeable, and confident. And whereas others seemed to want something from the people speaking, I sounded like I just wanted to learn.
Now, have a care here. There is a VERY fine line between knowing your shit and being an insufferable smartass. I have crossed that line many times. I continue to cross it virtually every day. Believe me, those mistakes have been EXPENSIVE for me, both personally and professionally.
You must learn to soften this. To do so…
2. Listen Actively
There is a very big difference between hearing someone and listening to him. Hearing is an unconscious act. Unless you are deaf, you do it all the time. The tiny bones in your ear vibrate and transmit noise down your auditory canal to your brain. You process soundwaves without even thinking about it.
But listening is vastly more difficult. You have to pay attention to what someone else is saying. And you have to show him that you have heard and understood what he said to you. This is a challenge, particularly when dealing with an extrovert who won’t shut up.
The fastest way to win someone’s trust is essentially to let him talk. Interject from time to time, give all of the signs that you are listening to him, and – critically – ensure that you actually follow up on what he says. You need to stick to the business of directing the conversation. You can do so by picking up on ideas and threads in his ramblings, and turn them back on him.
And you can do this even if you fundamentally disagree with what the other person is saying.
Let’s say you are listening to someone talking about renewable energy. Now, I personally think that renewable energy is a joke in bad taste. In PommieBastardLande, the “conservative” gubmint has decreed that all cars must be electric by 2030. The entire idea is idiotic. But that’s what passes for policy here.
Sadly, when I’m talking with someone who has the key to a job in an energy company, I can’t simply come out and say that green power is stupid. So I direct the conversation until it gets to hydrogen as an alternative. And that gives me everything that I need to talk about something that I actually agree with.
3. Speak and Act with Sincerity and Integrity
The first two traits will get you in the door with a chance to sell. But you MUST come across as sincere and trustworthy. People, especially other introverts, are very good at spotting insincerity. If you come to someone looking for a job, or to sell something, and you pretend otherwise, you will be shut down in a hurry.
If, however, you show genuine interest in the other person and establish an actual connection, then you can get places.
Let’s say you are looking for a job. As an introvert, you will probably find the advice to “network” and “get your face out there” to be horribly wearisome. Introverts, like me, absolutely hate networking. It’s miserable. We think it is fake and contrived and we hate that shit.
There is a better way to do it than to flash a fake smile and pretend to talk about the weather. Ask instead for information. If you have done your homework on your target individual or company, you have a real chance. Use that information to make an opening. And make it VERY clear that all you want is some information – nothing more.
You aren’t looking for a job. You aren’t selling anything. All you want is 15-20min of someone’s time to learn.
That kind of integrity will get you places – provided that you…
4. Don’t Scare the Cat
There is a reason why so much of the old day-game literature from the late 2000s and early 2010s used sales-based language. This is not coincidental. Most of the lessons that apply to selling, apply equally to game – more so, in fact. Key among those lessons is knowing when to be direct, and when to be indirect.
The old masters of indirect day game would never just plonk themselves down next to a girl and say, “hey, you’ve got amazing eyes, your contacts look great”. That kind of negging is just going to piss women off in the streets.
Back during his days as a fornicator, Roosh wrote a book called Day Bang and outlined a method called GALNUC. His basic idea was to charm a girl quietly and gently. You can use a similar method to charm a sales target, or really anyone else.
Present an air of quiet confidence. Stand up straight, but keep your posture relaxed. Smile when the situation calls for it, but don’t put a big cheesy grin on your face. Display signs of good breeding and gentlemanly manners. If you don’t know what I mean by this, go watch Kingsman, particularly the scene where Harry takes Eggsy to have his suit fitted. That is the essence of gentlemanly behaviour – strength and confidence, coupled with grace, courtly manners, and self-control.
Cats and dogs – and most wild animals, for that matter – can sense goodness and kindness in a person. As long as you do nothing to startle or scare them, they will be instinctively drawn to you. If you are still, strong, and calm, you will draw people to you as well.
Put all of these together, and you will quickly find that…
5. Networking Isn’t a Cuss-Word
As I stated above, to most introverts, networking is HORRID. We HATE it. And yet… we often do better at it than our more extroverted peers.
The entire difference lies in the execution.
Let me give you a personal example. In recent weeks, I have had a number of occasions to listen to senior people in various companies. At the end of those sessions, when the Q&A opens up, there is always one highly extroverted woman who pops up and asks questions.
Now, she always precedes her questions with a lot of rambling gushing guff about how great the speakers were. But her questions almost inevitably have very little to do with what the speaker said, and usually show a near-complete lack of understanding of the speaker’s business or industry. I’ve seen her ask a question that had to do with retail banking, to someone in capital markets, who had no connection to the bit of news upon which she based her question.
When my turn came around, by contrast, I skipped all of the back-slapping. I simply said, “thank you for your presentation” and proceeded to ask my direct question about the speaker’s experience in dealing with regulators. This related directly to his actual job.
Which of the two approaches do you suppose got better results?
Networking can yield tremendous results if you apply the lessons noted above. Approach people with sincerity and in good faith. Don’t hard-sell them. Ask them RELEVANT questions. And be genuine. You’ll do fine.
6. Be Honest
So let’s say you’ve gotten to the point where you might just close the sale, or get the job. And let’s say that, right at the last moment, your target asks you something that throws you for a loop. This often happens in job interviews – you might be asked, “what was your biggest mistake?”
The key here is not to get flustered – and NEVER EVER LIE.
You might lose the opportunity. That’s fine. Another one WILL come along. Answer honestly and with care. Make it clear that you understand exactly why your interlocutor asked that question.
In the specific case of that question about weaknesses, the right way to answer is to say that you were in situation X, you made Y mistake, and you learned Z, and here’s how you apply that lesson today. I did precisely that not too long ago.
And I got the job.
Conclusion – Master the Art of the Sale
The lessons that I have provided above apply in every area of an introvert’s life, both personal and professional. The most important point that I made above concerns integrity. If you display this in all that you do, then you will never have trouble selling things to people.
If you treat others with kindness, dignity, and respect, and if you deliver on what you promise, then people will notice.
That is the reason why so many introverts read this particular site, for instance. It’s not because I’m a particularly good or flashy writer. It’s not because I say anything particularly profound – indeed, I don’t consider much of anything that I write to be brilliant or original. No, it is because I am consistent and because I try, very hard, to tell the TRUTH.
Winning over other people and making the sale, or getting the job, is a matter of hard work, perseverance, resilience, and simple human decency. The good news is that these traits come very naturally to introverts. We are used to being alone, mocked, derided, and misunderstood – so we develop much thicker skins and build our own mental support systems. And we don’t take rejection quite as hard as extroverts do (as a general rule – THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS).
So master the power of the introverted salesman, and your life will improve rapidly. You’ll get that job, that sale, that girl, and that position of power and respect – if those are things that you want. More importantly, though, you’ll do it the RIGHT way, with integrity and honour, in service to the Truth.