Hey there Rainmaker, smile, it’s Monday! That means I’m going to open up the ol’ mailbox and answer YOUR questions!
Remember, Mailbox Mondays can only be awesome with your help. If you have a question on marketing, selling, business, life, whatever, shoot it to me at [email protected]. I’ll throw ya in the queue and get your question answered soon in an upcoming issue.
Now, onto today’s question…
Which is about…
How to sell yourself, if you’re an introvert.
This comes from a friend and fellow copywriter, Adil Amarsi, based in the UK.
Love the format!
Also my question that I know will help a lot of people (as well as myself).
How to get a foot in the door with local businesses if you’re an introvert?
Hope you’re well!
Love the question, because I can totally speak from personal experience!
I’m a total introvert. And for a long time, I thought it had to hold me back in business.
But that’s jumping ahead.
It’s embarrassing story time!
I normally claim that my start in advertising came in 2005, after I discovered copywriting. And that’s at least my start in commercial advertising. But I actually ran my first ad in my high school paper.
Oh jeez, I can’t believe I’m telling you this…
So, it was spring of my Senior year of high school, and prom was coming up.
But I was so much of an introvert, I was scared to ask anybody out.
Well, I had a friend who worked for the school paper. And I had a crazy idea one day. I said I should run an ad to get a date for the prom.
Now, I’m glad there are other people who help me carry out my crazy ideas. Or else I wouldn’t have this story to tell. Because at that moment, as soon as I recommended it, I thought I was friggin’ crazy. I would have let that die on the vine, if I’d had my druthers.
But my idea was already out there in the world. There was no stopping it.
My friend, who liked the idea because he could make it happen behind the scenes and not be embarrassed by it, immediately ran to the teacher who was in charge of the paper. He convinced this teacher to run the ad for free. Meaning, I couldn’t even get out of it by not paying for it!
So I was in for it.
I don’t remember the ad itself. But what I do remember is how I asked this crowd of potential dates that were surely going to come pouring in to respond to me…
I asked them to write me a note, and leave it in a specific locker, in the school!
I guess I had a knack for direct response, at least enough to know to tell them how to respond!
Well, the ad ran. Days came and went, and nary a note showed up. Apparently the throngs of dates I hoped for (or maybe one particular one) either didn’t see the ad… Or were just as scared as I was to put themselves out there.
I never got a note in the locker.
I did end up getting a date to prom, but I’ll hold off until after the content of the email…
As you can see, I’m an introvert who was too scared to ask a girl to prom, so you can imagine that might have led to some confidence and anxiety issues when trying to get my first clients…
Here’s some good news. The stereotypical, glad-handing salesperson that we’ve all been trained by the media to believe is an “ideal” salesperson, isn’t that good at selling.
Fast-talkers who sell by manipulation might get a lot of low-end, first-time sales. But if you want to sell expensive products or services, or build a profitable relationship that lasts months, years, or decades…
Slick Rick the Super-Salesman is NOT who you want to be.
In fact, you’re better off being a shy introvert than you are being quick-tongued and boisterous!
At least, that’s been my experience.
You’re going to come across as more genuine, more real, and more likable — which will help long-term for getting clients to do business with you.
Remember, people do business with people they know, like, and trust, so if you want to build a valuable client relationship, you should focus more on connecting with your potential clients on those levels.
But let’s dive into some practical advice…
Recommendation number one, that matters more than anything and everything else… Just do it!
If you’re going to sit, stewing in your fear and assumptions about how people are going to respond to you, you’re never going to get comfortable approaching strangers.
The single-best way you can get good at anything is to do it. And then do it again. And do it again and again. Until it’s regular. Until it’s normal. Until you’ve FAILED a bunch of times, and succeeded a bunch of others.
The only way to get over your fear of failure is to actually fail. Make a fool of yourself. And then pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again. Don’t worry — that actually gets you more respect being perfect.
The more you fail, the more you’ll know what not to do. The more you get it right, the more you’ll know what to do. All along the way, you’ll be moving the scary unknown to the far less scary known. Even negative outcomes are less scary when you know you can get through them. And there’s pretty much nothing in business that you can’t recover from.
The single-best thing you can do is put yourself out there.
But there are other things that will help, too.
Don’t make it about you, make it about them.
Here’s where a lot of folks will go wrong. Selfishness is totally natural. If it weren’t for selfishness, organisms wouldn’t have ever survived. The human race would have never come into being, much less built up into our modern society. It’s the pursuit of self interests that leads to survival, much less thriving.
This is hard-wired into the human mind. We are absolutely, totally selfish creatures. Even when we THINK we’re not being so.
Here’s where this is really important. I imagine you’ve been in conversations with people where it feels like they’re not really listening to you. Where they’re just waiting for you to stop talking, so they can talk again. Sound familiar?
Well, we all do that. Some of us are better at turning it off than others, but I know I get into that sometimes. I get excited about something, or something is on my mind, and I’ll make my idea a bigger priority than listening.
Well, it sucks to be on the other side of this.
Good salespeople are good listeners. And this is part of why introverts can make really good sales people.
Listen. Ask questions. Dive into the problems and challenges of the person you’re talking to.
And I don’t care who it is. Maybe it’s local businesses, that you’re networking with through a local organization like the Chamber of Commerce, or maybe it’s clients you meet through LinkedIn, or at some in-person event in some other city.
My friend Brian Kurtz teaches something called 100-0 networking. It’s where you seek to make the relationship about providing 100% of the value you can to the other person, while expecting 0% value in return.
This isn’t a short-term strategy. It’s very long-term, long game. But it’s perfect for introverts, and it’s uber-powerful to raise yourself up to the highest playing fields (whether local, or in an industry).
Yes, at some point, if appropriate, the conversation will loop around. It will lead back to you, and what it is you do. If appropriate, tailor your presentation to the person you’re speaking with, based on what they’ve told you as you asked questions and listened. But let THEM take the conversation there, don’t do it yourself.
Educate, don’t sell.
Most folks who are introverts are also hesitant to do hard-sell. Even if we can pull it off in copy (where it’s admittedly easier because there’s some sense of separation).
That’s fine. Harder sell might work for selling newspaper subscriptions (which I used to do, and which was an environment where I saw hard sell be very successful), but it doesn’t work for selling high-end stuff.
If you’ve had a lot of good conversations, and narrowed down a core need or problem or challenge of your target market, you should have a great sense of what that is and how you can fix it.
Once you’ve really turned that into a system, a core offer, you can turn around and teach what it is you do.
This completely changes the conversation.
For example, I know that most local businesses, if you ask them their #1 marketing challenge, are going to say they want more leads and new customers.
If you are good at developing those systems, you could try to sell the system itself, very directly. And admittedly, you’re going to run into a lot of resistance.
Alternatively, you could offer a free workshop (online or offline) where you walk through how you’ve set up lead generation and new customer acquisition systems for a number of clients, and how successful they’ve been.
After you’ve taught it, revealing what it is, the audience is going to consider you to be the expert. Hopefully, they’ve gotten significant info so that they could potentially do it themselves. But at the same time, they’re also going to know that you’ll do it way better than they could, because that’s what you’re an expert at.
And so, after significant teaching — 90-95% of the time — you can turn around and say, “I’m available to do a limited number of these systems for clients every month. Right now I have 3 slots available in the next 2 months, and if you’re interested, it starts with a $500 strategy session where we sit down and map out the whole process. If you’re interested, please see me at the end of the session.”
This is a very easy thing to sell. And honestly, it may take a little honing to get the presentation, pitch, and offer right, but once you do, this is a very “soft” way to sell that most introverts can pull off very easily. Especially if 95% of what you do is scripted enough that you’re uber-comfortable with the material.
And if you’re scared of this? See #1. Just do it! And when things don’t go as planned, roll with it, and keep going.
You can also use email newsletters (like this one), reports, and other methods to educate. But for conversion to sale, nothing beats live presentations, preferably in-the-flesh.
Connect, and stay in touch.
Sometimes introverts (like me) suck at making the sale in the first conversation. But if you do a good job understanding someone’s needs, you can become an advocate.
And an advocate would want to make sure someone got their solution, even if it wasn’t personally beneficial. So, from this perspective, you can keep going back to the person and trying to help them achieve their goals, whether or not they do it with you.
When I temporarily sold high-level IT training solutions, I’d usually have a great first conversation with someone, that didn’t turn into a sale. That was par for the course when you’re talking $5,000 to $30,000 training solutions.
But what I would know, at the end of that first call, was exactly what their training needs were, what they wanted to achieve, and how our solution might be a fit.
So at that point, I’d continue following up with them on an ongoing basis, in a very kind and non-pushy way. I’d just make sure they had everything they needed, and be available to answer their questions. And if appropriate, I’d tell them how doing business with a competitor would actually be advantageous versus doing business with us. (For example, our training was ugly, but effective. If “pretty” training was important, I’d tell them NOT to buy from me, and recommend a competitor.)
Most importantly, I’d continue to be in touch with them and maintain that relationship months and months down the road. Always in their interest, not mine. Focusing on how I can help, not what I can get.
I still use that approach.
It’s ultimately what got me the gig writing the promotion for Titans of Direct Response, for Brian Kurtz. It’s what’s gotten me in a lot of different doors.
And it’s hasn’t required some high level of extroversion. It’s not slick-talking sales skills. It’s just being a good person who stays in touch.
This stuff sounds really simple, but it’s effective. It works.
There are a lot of things you can do. I didn’t really go into using media and publishing here to build expert status, which helps. (The more you can get folks coming to you, the easier it all is.) I didn’t go into a lot of things…
But the key takeaway can go all the way back to a quote I know I’ve heard from Jay Abraham, but I’m certain he was not the first…
“The best way to be interesting, is to be interested.”
It’s easy for introverts to think all about ourselves, and what a client is going to think about us. If you’re worried about that, the best thing you can do is figure out what this potential client wants, and find a way to help them get it.
Have 100 of those conversations, and some very amazing things will happen in your life!
My prom date…
I left the loop open, I suppose I ought to close it. (I almost forgot!)
Well, through the grapevine, I heard that a friend from way back really wanted to go with me. She never put a note in the locker. She told her friends, who told me. So I asked her. And, as she was hoping for me to ask, she definitely said yes.
We had a great time, and she was even crowned Prom Princess!
This isn’t a Cinderella story though. We mostly went as friends, and we remained friends after — though we don’t really stay in touch.
I guess the lesson learned though is that if I hadn’t put it out there, she would have never told our mutual friends that she wanted to go with me, and if she hadn’t done that, I would have never known to ask her, and neither of us (both introverts!) would have been each others’ prom dates.
It’s amazing what you can get simply by starting to put yourself out there, even when it’s incredibly nerve-wracking to do so.
Speaking of, offering my new book The Copywriters Guide to Getting Paid for free when you pay shipping is yet another example of putting myself out there, even when doing so made me nervous. But it’s definitely paid off with rewards far beyond what I hoped! I honestly think most of the copywriters who get my emails already own it, but if you haven’t grabbed your free copy yet, you should do it today. Click here.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets