I was recently hired for a sales position at a company I’ve always wanted to work for. I hope that this job can eventually lead to other positions within this company. The problem is, I’m not sure how well suited I am for sales. I’m very shy and naturally introverted, and the thought of selling to various clients terrifies me. How should I approach this position? – Janelle in Boston, MA
Congratulations on your exciting new position! As with any change in work or in life, you may feel stretched as you grow. The key is to enthusiastically seize this new opportunity and period of discovery. If you truly care about wanting to help people, then a sales career will be amazing. Sales is all about finding and delivering value to your clients, about making their jobs, people, and organizations safer, more efficient, and better equipped to achieve their goals.
During your interview process, the company recognized attributes you have which translate to a sales position. They hired you because they believed you were a good fit for the position and organization. And the skills you hone and acquire in sales will serve you throughout your career.
However, there is something more here within your question. It’s self-doubt. Self-doubt manifests itself to some degree in everyone. It produces negative thoughts, weighs you down, and holds you back. Sometimes it can degenerate into a self-limiting belief, or worse, impostor syndrome. This is the perfect opportunity for you to identify what you are feeling and how it is affecting you. Let’s tackle this together.
Being shy and introverted can fit into any number a personality archetypes. The key point is that there is no single form which is ideal for sales. Each archetype brings strengths and opportunities. You can leverage your feelings of shyness and your perception of being an introvert to improve your sales performance.
Early in my sales career, I tended towards feeling shy and introverted. However, in a business setting, when I was introducing myself or being introduced, both of those feelings took a backseat. I used my perceived personality traits, of shyness and introversion, to focus on the individual or parties I was talking with. I paid close attention, making internal notes on commonalities and what mattered to them. This helped me build stronger relationships with my prospects and customers, pick up important nuances of what they were truly saying, and determine how I could serve them better.
Self-doubt often manifests itself as self-limiting beliefs. Sometimes these can be very strong and hold you back, but I’ve learned a very simple technique to overcome self-doubt and self-limiting beliefs. I utilize affirmations to reframe my mindset, empower myself, move forward, and shake the shackles of self-doubt. This technique is easy to use and a powerful habit to form.
Write out an affirmation: a single sentence that addresses a specific aspect of your self-doubt. As an example, you could use: “My introversion enables me to identify, analyze, and better understand my client needs.” This is a great way to turn the negative thought, that sense of self-doubt, upside down and banish it. With an affirmation you are empowering yourself and giving yourself the gift of growth. Say your affirmation out loud every morning as soon as you wake up. This becomes a habit, and once it’s taken hold, you’ll be able to move past the first obstacle. Then choose a new aspect of yourself to expand and advance.
Resources to Stretch
Take advantage of the wealth of resources that are available for you to expand your skill set. You want to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s about cultivating continuous personal development.
This is a learning process filled with incremental steps. Adopt new ideas. Try new things. Try listening to podcasts that are focused on sales, because they will help incorporate concepts, methods, and tools into your day-to-day functions.
Read a few books that will help you better understand sales and how you can excel. A classic is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People. Another book I recommend is Patrick Lencioni’s Getting Naked. Sounds sort of funny, but it really is a foundational work that helps you understand how to bring value and build relationships. A third book to read is The Fine Art of Small Talk by Debra Fine, which addresses your feelings of being shy and introverted. It completely rocked my paradigm. All three of these are quick, easy reads.
By incorporating all these different elements and resources you will stretch. They build upon each other providing a core knowledge base to improve your ability to shine in your new position. Utilize affirmations to stop thinking of yourself as shy and introverted, and embrace the realization of yourself as a woman with powerful solutions to offer your clients.
Lynn Whitbeck is the co-founder and President of Petite2Queen. She is focused on identifying and evaluating opportunities for women at work, helping them define their personal roadmap. She dedicates herself to delivering tools and insights, embracing visualization of the big picture, and identifying and implementing the minutiae of detail. Lynn aims to share lessons learned along her journey and enable positive uplift for women.