Here is why I consider him the greatest. He,
If you have been following the conventional sales best practices wisdom, here is what it's got you convinced is right:
1. Make more cold calls2. Follow-up regularly3. Talk with authority4. Wish everyone on the floor5. Smile broadly big and give warm, firm handshakes
It's all good advice. They should be practised. However, if you are an introvert, you know how hard it is to keep up!.
The greatest salesperson was neither an extrovert nor an introvert - he cared for people. While his lessons and habits are applicable for both, introverts find these easier to practice than the traditional 'smile-broadly' advice.
The greatest salesperson
1. was genuinely interested in solving problems2. acquired a thorough knowledge of the domain3. understood the audience4. developed storytelling abilities and focussed on getting better at this5. grew his sphere of influence every day6. built a network7. added his customers to this community
Here's how these practices translate as invaluable sales lessons for the introverts:
The greatest salesperson picked his favorite problem first and then chose to sell a solution. It was not the other way around where he was given a solution and then had to chase the problem. This is the first step for an introvert too. If you overlooked this most critical practise, you lose the advantage of your best asset- your passion. Love the problem, feel the pain it causes, find the solution and sell it with conviction. If you are a salesperson and an introvert at that, facing bad quarters, ask yourself if you picked the solution first or the problem.
Acquire the domain knowledge
Be a fish in the water, a bird in the air. Basically, know your well - your product, the competition, influencers, large accounts, and channels and such other variables. Knowledge is power and equips you with the right know-how to talk about. This is important for introverts you won't risk saying anything unless you are sure about something. Keep notes, record videos, and do all it takes to have a database of every movement in your space. That's how you strike up conversations and keep them going. When you speak with the requisite knowledge, you don't have to talk more and whatever little you talk, is impactful.
Understand the audience
This is an extension of the first habit. When you pick your favourite problem, you need to understand how it affects the people concerned. What's at stake financially, emotionally, : professionally, and personally. The best way to understand an audience is to listen to an angry customer. When dealing with an angry customer, remind yourself that you are benefiting. This thought calms your nerves. If you are not as lucky in meeting with an angry customer, listen to the next best team: your colleagues in support and services. Understanding an irate customer is a golden opportunity that leads to new sales, cross sales, and up-sells. In one of my purchases where I was buying a 10 ft and 250 kg server rack, the salesperson knew that my worry was more about transporting it to a destination 80km away. He promised me a good transportation and it was a better deal for me compared to his competitor who never cared for my transportation concerns. If you are not good with talking, develop the habit of asking questions and unearth areas where you could add value.
Become a storyteller
Many movie directors, writers, and showmen are introverted. How do they attract an audience and get funding for their projects? They tell great stories. This is a valuable lesson for introverted salespersons. You can't bring yourself to the random act of talking but you can develop stories that move people.
Every time you watch a movie, try telling the story to your family. Is it evoking the same reaction that you experienced? Listen to Audible, andstorytelling podcasts and compare with your methods. Are you missing out on your intonations? Is it the way you introduce the characters?, Are you establishing enough tension?
Storytelling is a craft that can be learned. Take a course. It helps to join one or at least listen to stories every night before going to sleep. The very act relaxes you and helps you sell more.
Slowly unleash the storyteller in you in your every day conversations. When meeting a client, ask yourself if you have a story that moves them.
Grow your influence
Extroverts work hard by cold calling, relentless follow-ups, and all the things they are good at. How does your day go in comparison? - Lot of introspection? Well, pause and try your hand at marketing. You are a domain expert. You know the audience. You are a storyteller. Use opportunities to showcase your knowledge, be it a community, a publication, or a blog in your domain, always be in touch with the insights you have and share on these spaces. People who read your insights are potential buyers and when you eventually reach out to them, your reputation would have preceded you.
Network with networkers
Time is limited and you are not the best in networking. How do you do it then? Prioritize! In the words of Malcolm Gladwell, there are salesmen who are not in the sales profession. Find those people, develop a friendship with them. If you are in car sales, this could be the local mechanic who has a fan following and is respected. They are capable of sales without them knowing that they are doing it. Make that work for you by being their good friend. They will help spread the word about your product or tell you whom you should work for (if you are not selling the best). Either, way build a net that works - network with the invisible salespeople of your domain.
Add the buyer to your community
When you make a sale, visualize the customer walking into a special club owned by you. This club must be an exclusive network and ideas. Go beyond the product and ask how you can help the new buyer with your network and knowledge from being in the sales profession. Dedicate one day a week for this club of yours. Not only are you increasing your chances of a future sale, you are widening your circle of friendship. This is essential for introvert salespersons as their best bet is repeat orders from existing customers. Getting a new customer is tough and doubly so for an introvert. So when you sell something, make your buyer feel like they own it and help them find answers from you or your community.
The greatest salesperson did one more thing that made him the greatest. He saw sales as an avenue to meet people and improve their lives. Sales was not a profession but a way of life which he enriched with these habits and the good friendships he made along the way.
Wishing you a lifetime of sales!