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Sales for the introverted

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I didn’t realise “selling” was such a big mental hurdle, especially for techies trying to sell to business owners.

By techies I’m thinking of those who describe themselves as:
  • A programmer
  • A web developer
  • A graphic designer
  • A copywriter
  • A digital marketer
  • Anyone who feels more comfortable at their computer or in their workshop than being out and about speaking to people.

Recent web/digital/agency threads have highlighted that a lot of techies struggle at the sales side rather than the technical side.


I’ve also chatted with many techies about business and selling and they’ve been super enthusiastic with a lot to offer. But when I follow up they often still having problems (fears?) about chatting to other business owners and “selling”.


I consider myself a techie: Maths degree, 15 years in IT, 10 years self-employed providing digital marketing services to fellow business owners.

I’m also reasonably good at chatting to people and making sales. I was an IT contractor for the last 10 years I was in IT. That’s akin to being a freelancer and relies heavily on being able to get interviews and make sales (get the next contract). And I’m the front man for my own wee digital marketing business (note that I did NOT say "agency").


Anyway, I thought I’d brain dump how I sell as I think it might help some of you guys.

(See how I’m selling you on reading and following this, after selling you on clicking into this thread?)
 

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I didn’t realise “selling” was such a big mental hurdle, especially for techies trying to sell to business owners.
  • A programmer
  • A web developer
  • A graphic designer
  • A copywriter
  • A digital marketer
  • Anyone who feels more comfortable at their computer or in their workshop than being out and about speaking to people.
Rather worrying if they can't sell.

Dan
 
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Andy Black

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Rather worrying if they [copywriters] can't sell.

Dan
Copywriting *could* be seen as a technical skill. It can be something done by doing research online, and then typing on your computer. A copywriter could be doing the About page for a local plumbing firm, or the descriptions for 20 products on an eCommerce store. That's their technical skill. Sure, you'd expect them to be able to create a good sales page for themselves (and many can't btw). But when it comes to getting the right people to see that page, or taking it to a phone call, I think many drop the ball.

You'd think digital marketers can sell too, but setting up Google Ads campaigns, or doing whatever SEOs do, can be the haven for people comfortable on a computer. It doesn't mean they're comfortable selling their services to business owners.

In an agency you'll often have the sales guys, the account managers, and the techies doing the coal-face work (web designers, copywriters, Facebook Ads specialists, Google Ads specialists, etc). The sales guys often don't know HOW to set stuff up, but they have a good idea of WHAT will be done, and WHY it will be done. They sell the WHAT and the WHY to the business owners they speak to. Those business owners don't care about the intricacies of the HOW either (which is where a lot of techies go wrong when they're selling).


I'm sure there's techies out there that would just like a steady stream of technical work to do.

I'm sure many of them would love to avoid marketing, positioning, prospecting, sales, closing, refining scripts, defining ideal customers, cold this, cold that, etc.
 

Stargazer

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Hands up on the Copywriter thing, you got me. :)

My caveat. On Forums such as this most aspiring Copywriters are of the 'I can get you more customers type.'

They should know how to sell themselves and their clients product/service directly to a customer. (In my opinion, I would not hire one that could not)

I have read some of your threads/posts (I would not get anything done if I read them all!) and see you understand sales to be a conversation with purpose.

Everyone can hold a conversation. If a technical fellow comes back from holiday he can hold an interesting conversation about it yet would not talk about the specs of the airplane that took him on holiday.

Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares is good for seeing a sales process.

Turns up and views the current situation.

Speaks to locals to ask what they think and would like to see.

Takes it on board.

Implements changes and simplifies everything.

Presents to locals for new feedback.

No pushing involved. Women tend to sell like this naturally.

Will leave you to do your brain dump now. :thumbsup:

Dan
 
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Hands up on the Copywriter thing, you got me. :)

My caveat. On Forums such as this most aspiring Copywriters are of the 'I can get you more customers type.'

They should know how to sell themselves and their clients product/service directly to a customer. (In my opinion, I would not hire one that could not)

I have read some of your threads/posts (I would not get anything done if I read them all!) and see you understand sales to be a conversation with purpose.

Everyone can hold a conversation. If a technical fellow comes back from holiday he can hold an interesting conversation about it yet would not talk about the specs of the airplane that took him on holiday.

Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares is good for seeing a sales process.

Turns up and views the current situation.

Speaks to locals to ask what they think and would like to see.

Takes it on board.

Implements changes and simplifies everything.

Presents to locals for new feedback.

No pushing involved. Women tend to sell like this naturally.

Will leave you to do your brain dump now. :thumbsup:

Dan
That's exactly it @Stargazer. Gordon isn't selling in the way people fear selling. He's chatting to people and trying to help them.


First braindump then:


"You're not a salesman Andy"

... said my salesman friend to me.

He's been a full-time travelling salesman for the past two decades. He's recently been made redundant so he's been working with me (and other business owners) to help with prospecting and sales.

I keep laughing though. "So how come I keep making sales then?"

We were chatting round a table in his back garden. I was explaining how I chatted with business owners, and he kept stopping me to exclaim that what I just did there with my hand is called <some technical term I can't remember>. It was something he'd learned on the numerous sales courses he's been on, and in the library of sales books he has. I said I didn't care to know what it's called, and I don't care to read any sales books.

As long as my intent is to help the person in front of me, then that's been good enough for me.

I do NOT see myself as a salesman. I see myself as a PEER. I'm one business owner having a chat with another business owner. I'm not subservient. I'm not desperate to make a sale, or prostrate myself in front of whoever I'm speaking to.

Mindset first. You're a business owner. You don't need to work with someone if they're not a good fit.

So what's the purpose of the "chat"? It's to find out if you can help them. To find out if you're a good fit. To find out if you want to work with them, and they want to work with you.

Sales is a screening process. It's more about solving problems than "closing" people or having some mystical "sales call".

Just have a chat, as their peer. Find out if you can help them, even if the best help is to refer them onto someone else entirely.


Does that make sales any less intimidating?



Further reading/listening:
 

PizzaOnTheRoof

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404profound

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Hands up on the Copywriter thing, you got me. :)

My caveat. On Forums such as this most aspiring Copywriters are of the 'I can get you more customers type.'

They should know how to sell themselves and their clients product/service directly to a customer. (In my opinion, I would not hire one that could not)

I have read some of your threads/posts (I would not get anything done if I read them all!) and see you understand sales to be a conversation with purpose.

Everyone can hold a conversation. If a technical fellow comes back from holiday he can hold an interesting conversation about it yet would not talk about the specs of the airplane that took him on holiday.

Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares is good for seeing a sales process.

Turns up and views the current situation.

Speaks to locals to ask what they think and would like to see.

Takes it on board.

Implements changes and simplifies everything.

Presents to locals for new feedback.

No pushing involved. Women tend to sell like this naturally.

Will leave you to do your brain dump now. :thumbsup:

Dan
Interesting. As I develop my app and plan user tests / focus groups the Gordon Ramsey bit made me realize that user testing is actually part of the sales process.
 

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I see myself as a PEER.
This is a big deal! I think you can throw all other sales skills out the window, and this is enough to make any sale if the other person actually wants the product.

It's also refreshing when the situation reverses... being neither superior nor inferior to other people just makes everyone more comfortable.
 

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I'm great at it but I really hate it. I'm glad I don't have to depend on doing it anymore. Back in the day I'd have anxiety on the drive and then all the way up to ringing the door bell. Once they answered the door, I was fine. But it was HELL leading up to the opening of the door.
 

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One of the best decisions I've made was to start a job as essentially a cold calling sales guy. I know email marketing, building websites, enough copywriting to get by, SEO, whatever. Been building websites for my own use for years now...those 4 months of hammering the phone gave me the skills to take what I've been doing to the next level: B2B.

Now, I still don't enjoy or do cold calling, but at least now have the confidence when someone I cold email says "let's hop on the phone to talk about it" I can call them up without hesitation.

As you said @Andy Black, sales is a screening process. It's not trying to hammer what you have to anyone, it's to see if what you have could actually benefit them. And when you actually believe in what you do, it makes the whole process feel natural.
 

Tapp001

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One of the best decisions I've made was to start a job as essentially a cold calling sales guy. I know email marketing, building websites, enough copywriting to get by, SEO, whatever. Been building websites for my own use for years now...those 4 months of hammering the phone gave me the skills to take what I've been doing to the next level: B2B.

Now, I still don't enjoy or do cold calling, but at least now have the confidence when someone I cold email says "let's hop on the phone to talk about it" I can call them up without hesitation.

As you said @Andy Black, sales is a screening process. It's not trying to hammer what you have to anyone, it's to see if what you have could actually benefit them. And when you actually believe in what you do, it makes the whole process feel natural.
This. I wasn't able to sell squat until I did some part-time after work phone sales for a couple of months. Yes, it feels like sticking your face into a grinding wheel, but only for the first few hours. After that, you learn the rhythms. Eventually, you make a few sales and become neutral, and then you might start to enjoy it. the first time I actually overcame an objection I felt like the slickest man alive.

Starting with a company has another advantage, because they usually give you a pretty good script to work with as well.

Best part, it gives you skills that will persist for years. Last year I did some volunteer political campaign work, and being good on the phone was a huge part of that.

Finally, I will mention that am a pretty gigantic introvert. If I can learn this stuff, most people can.
 

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the first time I actually overcame an objection I felt like the slickest man alive.
Hell yeah, you feel like the slickest man alive! Especially when it was an objection that you totally screwed up previously.

There's also that transition where it's not "overcoming objections" and simply answering their questions and qualifying them.

Know what feels better than overcoming that big objection? Disqualifying a company because they just don't fit what you're offering.

Starting with a company has another advantage, because they usually give you a pretty good script to work with as well.
"So what you're telling me is you're going to pay me to learn this lifelong skill that I'm totally using to advance my own business?"
 

minivanman

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One of the best decisions I've made was to start a job as essentially a cold calling sales guy. I know email marketing, building websites, enough copywriting to get by, SEO, whatever. Been building websites for my own use for years now...those 4 months of hammering the phone gave me the skills to take what I've been doing to the next level: B2B.

Now, I still don't enjoy or do cold calling, but at least now have the confidence when someone I cold email says "let's hop on the phone to talk about it" I can call them up without hesitation.

As you said @Andy Black, sales is a screening process. It's not trying to hammer what you have to anyone, it's to see if what you have could actually benefit them. And when you actually believe in what you do, it makes the whole process feel natural.
To this day, if someone wants to talk on the phone, I dread it. As above, I'm great once I get on the phone but that dang anxiety right before kills me. I've tried like Marsha Brady said and picture them all naked but it doesn't work for me like it did when she took her drivers test! :rofl:
 

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I don't want to sound cheesy, but there's that saying... 'nothing great ever came from comfort zones.'

For whatever its worth, I have some advice too. I'm an introvert myself, so I can relate to this. My best advice, is to get a door to door sales job. It's not the best job, obviously, but what you can learn about sales and people is phenomenal.

But, if you take in the training, invest in self development at home (watch YouTube videos), work with your manager, and what you learn will stay with you for life.

I am the last person you'd imagine to do door to door sales. I did it after university and before moving into legal work. What I learnt then has stuck with my since. I still use what I learnt on an almost daily basis.

That's my advice for introverts wanting to get around sales - do door to door sales for a few months. Your confidence, charisma, ability to connect, speak to customers, and entrepreneurial outlook will increase.
 
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I think we need to separate introversion vs social retardation.

The brain only has so much space to grow, and as you're developing, you spend the majority of your time in front of gadgets and computers.

But, the brain doesn't fully develop until age 25. Even then, there's plenty of malleability left.

Like Pizza said...

I think we struggle more with fearing the unknown more than the actual act of talking. At least I do.
Everyone struggles with the unknown

The difference I've observed is our perception of feedback...positive vs negative

For example...

I used to not handle compliments well.

(Common among foreign parents moving to western countries. Good job getting a 98% on the test, vs why didn't you get 100%.)

Just acknowledging them felt weird.

Some people would repeat it over and over within the same train of thought, when I didn't respond. It just made me more uncomfortable, knowing they want something in return. But not knowing what it was.

Turns out, a simple thank you means just as much to them, as it does receiving the compliment. No one likes to be ignored. Who would have thought, huh...
 

Zcott

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There's also that transition where it's not "overcoming objections" and simply answering their questions and qualifying them.
This is a valuable nugget of wisdom. I find that if you approach/teach sales to prepare for objections your rebuttle sounds like a prepared script, whereas answering questions you sound like a human.
 

Kevin88660

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I am a full time sales person selling financial service products.

A lot of extroverted people fail in sales and a lot of introverted people can succeeded. It’s not much about personality

Persuasion skill is important but overrated. It’s important but with some experience selling the same thing over and over again anyone can present well.

Good sales people I noticed have good business acuman and efficient strategy to boost productivity. In the financial products world it’s about how to find a underserved market needs of RICH people and present to them. Time management is key. For sales people we do not have the unlimited scalability of an internet business to sell millions of ebook to retails customers.


I didn’t realise “selling” was such a big mental hurdle, especially for techies trying to sell to business owners.

By techies I’m thinking of those who describe themselves as:
  • A programmer
  • A web developer
  • A graphic designer
  • A copywriter
  • A digital marketer
  • Anyone who feels more comfortable at their computer or in their workshop than being out and about speaking to people.

Recent web/digital/agency threads have highlighted that a lot of techies struggle at the sales side rather than the technical side.


I’ve also chatted with many techies about business and selling and they’ve been super enthusiastic with a lot to offer. But when I follow up they often still having problems (fears?) about chatting to other business owners and “selling”.


I consider myself a techie: Maths degree, 15 years in IT, 10 years self-employed providing digital marketing services to fellow business owners.

I’m also reasonably good at chatting to people and making sales. I was an IT contractor for the last 10 years I was in IT. That’s akin to being a freelancer and relies heavily on being able to get interviews and make sales (get the next contract). And I’m the front man for my own wee digital marketing business (note that I did NOT say "agency").


Anyway, I thought I’d brain dump how I sell as I think it might help some of you guys.

(See how I’m selling you on reading and following this, after selling you on clicking into this thread?)
 
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It's easier to reach to people who have already raised their hand

I'd been doing it for nearly 5 years because I believe it's good manners ... yet I didn't realise how much easier it is than cold-outreach until it was pointed out.

When I message someone who's followed me or repped me in the forum, then I'm reaching out to people who've already taken some sort of action to indicate they're interested in what I'm doing or saying. They're normally nicely surprised that I reached out to them.

I sometimes do the same on LinkedIn or Facebook (when I log in that is). I might post something and someone might like or comment on it. Or maybe they tag me somehow. If I then "cold" message them they're also nicely surprised.

I've reached out to say "Thank You" to over 2,000 of those PMs in the forum in nearly 5 years. Nice conversations ALWAYS ensue, that I really enjoy and that help build relationships. Some end up going to Skype calls where we shoot the breeze. Occasionally someone ends up hiring me, but that's not why I have those PMs or calls.

Maybe this is a good way for the introverted to start conversations with people?

Find opportunities to Thank people who've already raised their hand?


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Recent web/digital/agency threads have highlighted that a lot of techies struggle at the sales side rather than the technical side.
One way around it: bring in someone who's good at sales.

A local CEO is the technical genius behind his satellite software company, but he's got someone else who does all the selling.
 

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