Sunday, January 17, 2010

The 4 Foundational Pillars Crucial to Building Introverts' Sales Success

I wish I had a dollar for every conversation I have had with a business owners and executives regarding how to compensate professionals who must sell, to get maximum revenue generation and client retention.

While compensation is something not to overlook, through my years of direct sales experience and having hired and trained professionals who must sell, I have come to firmly believe that there are other more critical factors that determines one's success in sales, especially where one is selling complex solutions and building long-term client relationships is important to lasting success, for both the organization and the sales professional-an area where we introverts excel.

In this post, I will share with you these 4 pillars upon which successful sales careers are built, for introverts. This is very important because we introverts are inwardly focused. What we see on the outside impacts what we feel on the inside. And what we feel on the inside impacts our thoughts which then impact our actions and communications. Therefore, for us introverts to succeed, our external must be in alignment with our internal thoughts and we must act in ways that are congruent with who we are. We simply can't fake it, not for long anyways.

With this in mind, if you're either hiring an introverted sales person, or you are an introverted sales person yourself, it important for you to understand and align with these 4 pillars. Without it, it will be challenging for you to succeed in sales.

Before getting into these pillars, I want to stress that if you are an introvert, you must be in a sales environment and selling products and services that fit your personality. So if your success is measured in short-term results and you have to do lot of say telemarketing, cold calls, constantly hunt for deals, and you're selling transactions where there is very small chance of repeat sales and developing long-term relationships that do not require significant expertise, and/or your organization is not set-up to support you given your strengths and long-term outlook, my recommendation for you is to get out. In such organizations, you are likely to find more extroverted sales folks, where success depends on having excellent hunting skills and high energy, extroverts will beat us introverts hands down and we introverts don't stand a chance. Plus, you don't want to be there anyways. Not that's it's bad. It's just that that's not for you, my introverted friend. Save yourself the pain. Take my advice.

Moving forward, assuming you're in the right place, one that suits your introverted personality, let's now look at these four pillars. They are:

1. Self-Awareness: How well do you understand yourself, your unique characteristics and make-up, and do you see them as being your strength in sales? For example, say you're a quiet person. Do you see that as a negative, or a positive in sales?

For example, in my first role at the major oil company, that I shared in my earlier post (Selling for Introverts), I failed my first time in sales because I had very little self-awareness and therefore I tied to copy those extroverted sales types. Only many years later did I gain a better self-understanding and saw my characteristics as strengths, not weakness. When that happened, I had a major inner shift and that lead to my sales success for from that point on, I worked from my natural inherent strengths.

2. Your Image of Sales: Do you see sales as a negative, e.g. a slick, pushy, aggressive, just in it to make the deal and the buck? Or do you see it as a noble profession, where you are helping your clients succeed? Do you feel good about being in sales and do you see yourself being successful?

I recall coaching a new sales person who had just come out with an MBA. He was hired by a large bank and was calling on small businesses. This major bank hired him for his technical know how only to put him in door-to-door sales. Initially he hated it cause he didn't make the connection between his talents and how he was so invaluable to the small business owners in helping them meet their financial needs. Once he started to understand this, his attitude shifted viewing his role in a whole new light. Rest as they say is history.

3. Your products, services, company and the people within. Do you feel good about the company for whom you work, the products & services you promote? How clearly do you understand who your clients are, their needs and how your offerings helps them solve their problems?

If you want to see in action a real professional who sells, you must spend the day with Tony Rossell, Senior Vice President at Marketing General. Tony is someone I admire greatly. He knows his stuff, his and his organizations capabilities, his clients needs and how to help them solve their problems and he is constantly updating his knowledge. And Tony is an introvert. He never sells and yet he attracts numerous clients and brings in large sums of profitable revenue for his firm, year after year.

4. The marketplace and clients you serve. Do you feel good about the organizations and individuals within them whom you serve? Is their mission in line with your values? Is your heart in helping them succeed?

A business owner I once coached, whom I 'll refer to as Linda, much of her work came from the high tech industry. Yet her heart was on working with small businesses and social causes. As a result, she would spend as much of her time on social work as possible, not fully focusing on her high tech clients. She was also taking on internal roles that were counter to her strengths. Upon discovering her inner motivations and inherent strengths through the use of assessments and conversations, step by step I helped her find more clients in the social sector and small businesses. This allowed her to more effectively align her desire of working with social causes and small businesses with her own business' needs. Thus becoming more win-win for her and the clients she served.

So before implementing various of sales tactics and strategies (which I'll be discussing in my upcoming posts), it is important for you to first establish yourself firm in these 4 pillars. That will then serve as your strong foundation on which to build your sales success. Similar to a 4-legged table made from solid wood, on which you can place lot of weight--you too must first establish your own solid foundation upon which to build your success.

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