If you are a business owner, selling is an essential part of your job.
But if you’re like me, a shy introvert, you find it uncomfortable to tout your virtues or to ask others to buy from you.
As a somewhat shy, self-conscious introvert, here are five things I do to get the sale…without actually selling.
Don’t sell: Market.
Selling doesn’t come easy to introverts, but marketing usually does. Hiding behind a computer or a piece of paper makes it easier for us to be persuasive. So first, make sure you’re working on marketing. Put together a great website and sales materials, start a blog, and build your presence on social media. Contribute to online conversations and share your expertise, especially where prospects are likely to read what you’ve written.
But that won’t usually be enough. Many clients will want a meeting before they decide to hire you. That’s the one we non-sales’y-people are scared of – the sales meeting.
Don’t sell: Network.
It’s much more difficult to go and meet a prospect if the ostensible reason is sales. It’s much easier to meet and talk to someone if the reason is something else: A networking event, a party, a conference. Go out and talk to people, and if you love your work, you’ll find yourself talking about it if you have a listener who’s interested.
Both my partner and I are introverts, and we have to shove ourselves to startup events on weekends. But we go…both to learn at these events, to find out more about local businesses, and sometimes have interesting conversations.
Don’t sell: Work for free.
We started offering Office Hours to members of a large, active, local startup community. Between the two of us, we have spent up to six hours on one single business, looking through their website and other information they shared with us, talking to them for two hours to understand their goals and give them feedback on their marketing, and then (sometimes) following up with further suggestions or answers. But – even though we are not doing this as a way of selling – several of these businesses expressed interest in working with us, and one of them became our most regular client.
Don’t sell: Do great work.
It doesn’t matter whether you work for free or for a fee, you have to wow your clients. One of the biggest thrills, for me, is when a client introduces us to a friend or colleague, and recommends our work.
Don’t sell: Consult.
Even after all the above, you will have to still go to a few sales meetings. In such a case, forget it’s a sales meeting. Treat it like a consulting meeting. If this were a client who was paying you for your time, what would you say to them? What would you suggest they do? Once you have information, you can decide whether there’s something they need from you, and what you can do to help them. If not, you weren’t going to get that sale anyway.
I became much better at selling once I stopped focusing on getting the sale. In fact, we’ve told clients honestly what we’re not good at, and why they should wait before hiring us: And they told us in turn, that they appreciated the honesty.
Are you squeamish about selling? How do you work on getting business without making yourself uncomfortable?