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Why Introverts Are Better at Asking for Referrals

You don’t have to be the life of the party to succeed in sales.

She lights up a room when she walks in. She doesn’t have to say a word, but you know she’s there. She looks for every opportunity to show up—at parties, networking events, conferences, you name it. She thrives on the interaction. That’s exactly the kind of people account based sales reps are—life-of-the-party types, not fearful of confrontation, can talk to anyone about any subject, blazing extroverts.

Well, that’s what I believed. I never thought I could sell, because I wasn’t that kind of person. I’m still not, even after a decades-long career in this profession. But introverts have their own advantages in sales. We’re strong listeners and we’re really good at asking for referrals.

The Introvert’s Secret Sales Weapon

I’m an introvert. Contrary to popular belief, that doesn’t mean I’m shy or afraid to talk to people. It simply means that I recharge by being alone, and I like to think about what I’m going to say before I speak. I still prefer interacting in smaller groups, but I’ve learned how to walk into a room of any size and engage people in conversation. However, at some point I need to go outside, stop my heart from racing, and take some deep breaths.

Turns out, I’m not alone. Morra Aarons-Mele—author of Hiding in the Bathroom: An Introvert’s Roadmap to Getting Out There (When You’d Rather Stay Home)—knows how I feel. In a recent interview with Forbes contributor Tanya Tarr, Aarons-Mele explains: “I might be standing at a cocktail party with my two sides arguing, one who wants to make a beeline for the exit, and the one who knows she needs to stay and talk to colleagues.”

But despite our discomfort in crowded rooms, introverts are very comfortable at negotiating. Aarons-Mele says introverts are a secret weapon in sales. Here’s why: 

The gifted introvert salesperson is a secret weapon for any organization or small business because they maintain a deep ability to listen. Pride in your craft is one of the most successful selling points anyone can have, and that thoughtfulness can translate well into negotiation. They can be attentive to the needs of customers. And it beats a hundred hours of schmoozing because the easiest new business to win comes from someone who is already your customer. 

(Read the rest of the interview.)

Listening to Learn and Lead

Introversion is a character trait. You’re born with it. What makes introverts such exceptional account based sales reps is that we’re naturally good listeners. We take time to build strong relationships and trust—non-negotiable traits for account based selling teams looking to land and expand in their named accounts. That doesn’t mean that extroverts can’t excel at account based sales development. Of course they can, but they’ll have to work harder at it than introverts, where these key traits are inherent.

Introverts forge strong relationships and uncover problems that their more talkative counterparts miss, so they earn the right to be asking for referrals. That means they generate more qualified leads, because the #1 way that account based selling reps can land and expand is with referral introductions. They get every meeting in one call, with trust and credibility already earned.

The point is, don’t forget the introverts on your account based selling teams. Identify them, understand what drives them, and put practices in place for them to excel. Just don’t expect them to attend any large conferences right out of the gate.

If your introverted rainmakers need to polish their networking skills, check out Susan RoAne’s tips and tricks. And to help your entire team generate hot referral leads, invite Joanne to speak to your team.

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