In part 1 of sales for introverts we looked at why sales is not a dirty word. In fact why it is absolutely essential to making the world go around, not to mention achieving your own freedom and success.
We touched on why introverts can not only be good sales people, but might even be better at it, if they work to their strengths.
In this post we explore why people buy, and what that means for you as an introvert who is looking to sell your products or services…
People only buy things they want to buy…
The entire premise of a sales person is poorly defined in most peoples minds, in my opinion.
The idea that a good salesperson can sell you something you don’t want is completely incorrect. To understand why people buy, you need to understand a couple of things about human nature in general.
- People are self-interested 100% of the time
- Everybody is an emotional being
People won’t do anything, least of all part with money, if it doesn’t deliver some benefit to them. The benefit is not always obvious, and might be hidden well underneath the surface. A good salesperson can dig out the prospects self-interest, and make their product or service serve the prospects interests.
The way to sell anything is to appeal to the emotions of the person buying it. As an old mentor of mine used to say;
We’re feeling machines that think, not thinking machines that feel.
People make decisions emotionally, and use logic to justify them. Everybody. Even those who pride themselves on being logical – the very identity as a ‘logical person’ is an emotional, ego-invested identity that they believe to be true of theirselves, and subsequently take actions to uphold.
A good salesman cannot sell something if they cannot make a case for emotional self interest in owning the product they’re selling for that particular individual.
What a good salesman can do; they can understand the person, they can look much deeper into that person – deeper even than the prospect knows themselves. When you understand a person’s underlying value system, then you can link what you’re selling with the prospects deeper needs.
Things like status, security, identity; they’re why ‘logical’ people will make illogical purchases. It’s not just stupid people who buy emotionally – nobody needs a sports car, or 7 extra bedrooms in their home.
The rich, successful person buys those things because it feeds into their identity and status as a rich, successful person. Indeed, a fantastic strategy when selling to the wealthy is simply to have the most expensive product. A certain percentage of people will always buy the most expensive version of anything, because it is how they identify themselves, as someone who always has the best.
A $10 Casio tells the time just as well as any Rolex or Patek Philippe… “telling the time” is just about the last reason anybody has ever bought an expensive watch.
The best salesman can sell things to people that they initially ‘don’t want’, because he can find a way to link his product with an underlying drive the prospect has.
As an example; go cold call someone trying to sell them insurance, and I guarantee that nobody wants to buy it off the bat – they’d call you if they did.
However, if you get a guy hooked – let’s say a family man. The husband-father archetype is the strong, protective patriarch of the family. He looks after the wife and kids. Supports them, provides for them, and protects them.
The salesman simply needs to poke at the underlying provider-protector value of the husband-father archetype…
“You don’t have insurance? What would happen if your business suddenly went south, for reasons totally out of your control? Say you get knocked over crossing the road tomorrow and can’t work for 6 months. Where does that leave your family? How is the wife going to feel secure and looked after, when your income suddenly dried up? What about paying for little Timmy’s college and giving him a better start than you had? Don’t you want to protect and provide for your family?”
Now the guy is having an emotional reaction, questioning his performance as provider-protector… Now, all of a sudden he’s in the market for insurance.
Not because he rationally decided that he needed insurance, but because an abstract, and unattractive concept like insurance was masterfully positioned as an integral part to fulfilling his ego-invested identity as the good husband/father.
This is why people tend to think salesman can be sleazy, and I get that – because they’re able to exploit this and get people to do things they wouldn’t have chosen to do of their own volition. All that I can say is the difference between an ethical salesperson, who should do everything in their power to make the sale, and a sleazebag, is the product you’re selling.
Finding why people really want to buy…
When I was Personal Training, I figured out pretty quickly nobody wanted to come work out with me because they didn’t like their body being out of shape. Even less so because they had a lack of Personal Trainer’s in the life, and a burning desire to go get ‘beasted’ in the gym.
If they really cared about that, they wouldn’t need me. They’d never get so out of shape in the first place. No, the real reason why people buy was because their out of shape body had started causing issues in something they care deeply about.
There were 3 main groups of people who were coming to me for help…
- People who wanted to change their lot in dating/relationships
- People who wanted to change their self-confidence and success professionally
- People who wanted to change their health, longevity, and set a good example
It will be useful to understand each a little, to really illustrate the point about why people actually buy, and how you can discover this in someone you’re talking to.
One of 3 scenarios. Either they’ve been out of the game a long time, and want to start dating again. It’s probably been years, and they are lonely. They really want love and connection, but they need more confidence in their body, and to become more attractive. They’re buying (potential) love and connection.
Scenario 2 was most commonly women, who feel like the romanticism has left their relationship. Their husband isn’t attracted to them any more, and they want to change that. They’re buying back their (potential) intimacy.
Scenario 3 is post break-up or divorce, both male and female, want to get ‘back to their best’ and get back on the market. They’re buying (potential) access to better partners.
In all 3 of these scenarios, their body is relevant in how it impacts other things, like self-confidence, and how other people react to them. They’re not buying fitness as an end, only as the means.
Confidence and professional success
Attractiveness matters in a professional setting a heck of a lot more than anyone likes to admit. Men in a professional world want to look powerful and commanding in a suit. Broad shoulders that sub-communicate “I’ve got this”.
Females want to look attractive, wear figure hugging dresses and high-heels that gets them noticed.
Attention is currency – you can be a genius but if you can’t get anyone to pay attention to you, they won’t value your ideas, no matter how good they are.
This is why the geniuses in most companies; the computer programmers and analysts, get exploited and shit on by the Alpha personality types who look the part, and charm everyone around them, making most of the money and getting all of the recognition.
People want to look and more importantly feel the part, and that gives them the confidence to act it out in the real world and progress their career. They’re buying (potential) success, money, status. Fitness is the means, not the end.
Health and longevity
This was most common in men. A little bit older, they’ve become very successful in their job/business, but have sacrificed for it. Giving up their time, not looking after their body, living in constant high-stress situations.
Now they reach a point – often milestone birthdays, or they have a health scare, and they re-assess. They want to look after themselves. They can’t compete with guys 15 years their junior on pure energy and hustle any more. They want to be there for their family, set a good example for the kids, and not die before they have grandchildren.
Fitness is the means to getting back their energy, vitality, and health.
I’m telling you this to illustrate a point. It won’t be directly relevant unless you’re selling the same thing to the same market, but it shows the underlying reasons why people are buying fitness.
When they come in and say they ‘want to tone up’ – which is what everybody says when you ask why they want to train – that means absolutely nothing. You have to dig, to get the real reason people are looking for your help. They will always tell you, you just have to listen.
Your super power is listening…
A good sales person knows exactly what a prospect wants to buy, and why they want it.
They understand the problems the prospect is trying to overcome. The fears that they have. The desire for how they want their life to look.
They understand the thoughts and emotions that run through their mind and body. They mirror the language and tone that the prospects communicate with.
They understand the things about the prospect that nobody else does. Things they’ve never said to anyone else. They can get a prospect opening up about their deepest fears, which they’ve never even admitted to theirselves.
That’s what it takes to be a good sales person. Now here’s the important point – the prospect knows all of this about themselves. Maybe not consciously, but they know on some level. They live it every day of their life.
For you to learn this, you can either be a mind reader and just get it – which I don’t believe anybody does, or more likely – you ask and then listen, and people will tell you!
It’s really that simple.
People think sales is speaking, but in reality it is listening.
You don’t need to convince anyone of anything. Ask the right questions, shut up and listen, and people will convince themselves.
As an introvert, you’re much better at listening and absorbing information than you are at talking someone’s face off… and that’s why you have a huge opportunity to leverage your natural talents as a salesperson.
‘Listening’ vs listening
When I talk about listening to people, I mean really listening.
Most people do not listen to what others are saying to them. They’re just waiting for their chance to shove their own opinion down the other person’s throat. In a sales conversation, the prospect should be doing about 90% of the talking.
You’re not trying to convince them of anything, you are trying to understand them. To understand their situation is to genuinely know how to help them. If you don’t understand – and I mean really understand – the position the prospect is in, how can you possibly help them?
You’re helping yourself, by trying to shove them into your product. To help them, you need to shut up and let them tell you exactly where they are, how they struggle, and what they need.
Prescribing vs pitching
Imagine this scenario…
You walk in the doctors office, he looks up at you from his desk for a moment, and simply says, “statins”.
Huh? Doc, I have a throat infection, I don’t think I need statins man…
But he goes into a long sales pitch about why statins are great, showing all these facts and figures about the benefits of statins… (in reality, they’re just his highest profit margin)
You’re being ‘pitched’ – which is what bad sales people do. He doesn’t even know what is wrong with you, and he presumes that he has the answer.
What I hope happens when you go to the doctor, is that he asks you to describe your symptoms. He listens, takes in your information and references it against your medical history, to come up with a prescription for what is likely wrong. Then he’ll back it up with some tests.
The good sales person is gonna listen to the prospect, find out what their problem is, reference what the prospect says against his knowledge and experience of the subject, and describe it back to the prospect to confirm that his diagnosis is correct.
As a sales person, you should be prescribing, not pitching.
Shut up, listen, understand, repeat back to confirm – NOW you can give a solution.
Now you actually have the information to be able to provide a genuine solution.
Creating a win-win situation
When you are prescribing, rather than pitching, every conversation is a win-win situation.
The worse outcome for the prospect is that he has a much greater understanding of the problem at hand, his true desires, the obstacles that are holding him back… and he’s had someone actually listen to all of this, for the first time ever.
That alone is often enough to solve people’s problems, or at least orient them toward a solution. Being listened to is extremely therapeutic.
The worst outcome for you, is that you’ve learnt a lot more about the motivations, the fears, the obstacles and the reality your potential clients are in. This can be fed back through your marketing, to connect with your audience on a deeper level. It’s another reference point that will help you incrementally improve your business.
Plus, you know you’ve helped someone, and that feels good.
Best case scenario, the client achieves exactly what he has been struggling to achieve with your help, and you get paid to help him do so.
Whatever happens, if you’re listening and prescribing, rather than pitching, it is always a win-win scenario.
2 caveats –
- Just because failing to make a sale is still leaving the client in a better position than they started, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t push as hard as possible to make it happen. You still have to be firm, be in control of the conversation and guiding the prospect down the sales journey. This is what part 3 of this series will cover.
- This assumes people are coming to you. If you are literally cold pitching something then this style of sales will not work, and you will rarely every find yourself in a win-win situation. Outbound, cold-calling sales sucks. It will kill you as an introvert. I’m assuming here that you’re selling your own product or service (something you believe in) to people who genuinely need it, and are looking for it.
This is not just for introverts
I believe introverts can excel as sales people because these skill sets tend to come naturally. We love getting into deep, meaningful conversations, and listening rather than speaking.
There is no reason extroverts cannot also do this. However, a more natural scenario might be a 1-many sales scenario, where you’re pitching from a stage or on a webinar, rather than in a 1-1 conversation.
Both 1-1 and 1-many selling are simply skill sets that everyone should have in their talent stack. Different personality types will find that they enjoy some scenarios more than others.
In part 3 we’re going to look at some of the nuts and bolts of selling. Specifically, framing, boundaries, and status. Plus we’ll cover the ‘sales journey’ that every client needs to go through, to go from cold to sold.