Okay, here’s the deal. There’s a stereotype when it comes to people in direct sales. People tend to imagine direct sales consultants as outgoing, perky, and sometimes even downright bubbly.
You know, personalities we introverts tend to shy away from. Or, let’s face it, run screaming away from.
So what does this mean? Does this mean an introvert can’t be as successful in network marketing or direct sales? Does this mean we introverts are doomed to fail at any direct sales business we try?
No! Of course not. It just means we have to approach direct sales a different way.
One common opinion is that introverts can simply force themselves to step far out of their comfort zone, change their behaviors, and bam… they can win at sales. Here’s why I disagree with that: stepping too far out of your comfort zone for too long will make people want to quit. If you’re stepping that far outside of your comfort zone — to the point where you’re acting like a completely different person — it won’t take long before you decide the effort is just not worth the anxiety and you will quit. This is true for almost everyone, but especially rings true for introverts who tend to spend more time in self-reflection than their extroverted friends do.
Additionally, stepping that far out of your comfort zone will make you appear disingenuous. A major part of success in direct sales lies in your authenticity. Introverts naturally feel fake when they are outside of their comfort zones, and that translates in their expressions and communications. Customers pick up on that.
This is why I believe living outside of your comfort zone will hinder your direct sales career more than help it. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore it. Your comfort zone does have a lot to do with your success in direct sales. And yes, you should step outside of it from time to time. Almost every great accomplishment came about from outside the comfort zone. The comfort zone houses growth and change: two things you will need to draw from regularly. It’s where you store your courage to make those followup calls even when the phone makes you uncomfortable. It’s where you find the courage to invite your party hosts to join your team even when the thought of asking them makes your stomach clench.
But as important as stepping outside your comfort zone is, it’s just as important to stay right inside your comfort zone, be authentic, and learn how to apply everything that makes being an introvert great to your business.
First things first, if you feel like there’s something wrong with you because you’re the only introvert in your large, boisterous family — stop it. Being an introvert is not a diagnosis, it’s a personality type. And the only real difference between an introvert and an extrovert is in how your battery works.
Sociable activities such as parties, gatherings, conferences, meet & greets, emails, and phone calls all require energy. Introverts have to spend a little more energy, which means their battery gets depleted faster. In addition to that, introverts require alone time, so they can rest and reflect, to recharge their battery. This doesn’t mean that extroverts are better at parties, only that the parties themselves will recharge the extroverts’ battery. That’s it. And that’s good news for us introverts.
It’s good news because it means that with the proper planning we are just as good at those parties as the extroverts are.
But I want to take this one step further. Introverts are exceptionally good at self-reflection. This makes them inherently strong in areas of planning, workflow, and organizing. All the areas that allow us to work on our business from behind the scenes. Because that’s where we’re the most comfortable. That’s where we can reflect and process without losing productivity. Writing blog posts, creating graphics, printing invoices, mailing out prizes — those are the areas we introverts thrive in. And you want to know a secret? There are a lot of extroverts who are jealous of that. Just like we have to work harder at the sociable aspects of direct sales, extroverts have to work harder at the behind the scenes aspects of direct sales.
But a lot of direct sales success is in the sociable aspect, right? Making connections, finding leads, running parties, making new connections — this is where the money is in direct sales. If you can’t get out there and meet people, you aren’t going to last long, right?
Relax. There is a shift happening that is going to be the best thing to ever happen for introverts trying to build a direct sales business. Clients and potential customers are sick of the old methods of sales. That’s right. They don’t want to be “sold to.” People are more aware of the number of ads and promotional campaigns saturating their life than ever before. And they don’t like.
They want friends. They want to socialize. They want a real connection. They want to know that when you ask them about their sick kiddo, that it’s because you are genuinely concerned with the health and wellbeing of that kiddo — and not just trying to sleaze your way into asking them to buy something. Large stores, corporations, and faceless online malls have broken the trust of too many people. The failing economy has broken the trust of too many people. And we introverts get to reap the rewards. Why? Because we feel the same way. We want friends. We want to socialize. And we want a real connection because the fake connections are too draining for us. It’s not that we introverts can’t be sociable, we just tend to hold people at arm’s length until they move from acquaintance to friend before we socialize a lot.
This is where relationship marketing works so well for introverts and really closes that gap between introverts and extroverts. Customers are more and more comfortable in smaller settings with a sales consultant they know and trust, and introverts are more and more comfortable in smaller settings with customers they can relate to.
Instead of holding your breath and diving headlong outside of your comfort zone, introverts can thrive by taking smaller steps toward the edge of their comfort zone. Start off by offering relationships instead of deals. Be a friend instead of a salesperson. Warm up your cold market by offering a handshake. You wouldn’t walk into a party and introduce yourself by saying “Hi! I’m Naomi and I sell Jamberry! Would you like a catalog?” Right? Even though there might be people who accept that catalog, chances are it is not going to get you many friends.
Here are five tips to help you lean on your inherent gifts as an introvert and thrive in direct sales without turning into someone you’re not or losing your authenticity.
- Learn all there is to know about social media, social media marketing, and online marketing. Being an introvert, you’re naturally less comfortable in large crowds or in other people’s homes. But you can’t rely on bringing your friends to your home all the time. Your business will never grow that way. This is where online marketing will really help you. Computers and internet provide a buffer and allow you to sit in that all important self-reflection mode while still reaching out and making connections. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest — all places where you can meet new people and make real connections. Go out and learn how to use them and start making friends.
- Get to know everything there is to know about your company, your product, and what both have done for you. Know your why inside and out. It’s easier for introverts to talk and be sociable (without exhausting their battery) when they are talking about things they love and find important. What better way to ensure that you will be able to talk about your company than if you love it?
- Don’t go out seeking sales. The downfall of many introverts in direct sales is the fear of failure when the sales don’t come flooding in. But they’re too uncomfortable to go out and ask for them. They don’t ask their friends to host a party or join their team. They watch as their extroverted friends make up a list of a hundred names and call them all, accepting rejection after rejection without a care. And it makes their stomach curl. But they see it working, and when they don’t have the same results, they feel like they’re failing. Here’s a hint: you’re not failing. Not by a long shot. Go for the friendships (remember, it’s what more people want anyway). Because of their level of self-reflection, introverts have a tendency to vet their leads better, and go after the leads with the highest chance of return (in other words, they are excellent judge of characters). It would serve the introvert better to share and invite the opportunity to fewer people and receive a higher ration of positive answers than to share and invite everyone they know.
- Listen and observe. Introverts listen and observe better than anyone else. They take their time to process the information they take in. Use this to your advantage. Answer your customers questions, and leave out the things they aren’t asking for. Despite what many people say, not everything is an opportunity to sell. If your friend says “I just spilled my nail polish and it’s all over my carpet” – the appropriate response is not “that’s why I use Jamberry nail wraps!” Are they looking for an alternative to their nail polish? Nope — they’re probably looking for a solution to getting nail polish out of their carpet. Help them. Provide solutions. And when they are looking for new nail art solutions, they’ll remember you.
- Look before you leap. Research, research, research. We talked about your comfort zone before. There are going to be plenty of times when you will need to leave that comfort zone to grow your business: vendor events, trade shows, expos, even just meeting new people. But do your research first. Find out who your audience is and how you can serve them.