Yes, even the most introverted among us can be fantastic salespeople, sometimes even better than our naturally outgoing counterparts. Why? Because introverts tend to be more intuitive and can “read” people easier. Sadly, many don’t see this. They view their tendency to dislike social situations to translate to not being a people person.
Do you worry your attempt at sales will lead to awkwardness that may cost you business? This is a legitimate concern and one that I know all too well. I too am an introvert at heart. I love people one on one, but tend to hate small talk and avoid many social situations. I am definitely not what I would consider to be a natural people person.
My social skills are largely self-taught. My first jobs were in the hotel and restaurant industries dealing with people every day. I worked my way up from guest services to management, which lead to dealing with people constantly and having to find ways to make it work.
It took awhile to develop the confidence to “fake it”, but I learned some tricks along the way that make it easier to communicate openly with people without feeling that sense of dread or anxiety.
While it’s true that nothing will ever completely remove the social anxiety that often accompanies introversion; there are definite techniques I’ve learned over the years that have boosted my confidence and helped me become a better salesperson and marketer. Consider this a survival guide for the introverted crafter.
Craft Fair Sales Tips for Introverts
Rule number one – and by far the most important. Don’t pretend to be an extrovert! That will make you seem awkward and phony. Instead, embrace the natural strengths of your introverted nature. It makes you better at influencing people than you may realize. Introverts are very empathetic and intuitive. We tend to read body language well and know instinctively how people are feeling. This is a great advantage! We don’t have to be bubbly, super excited extroverts to influence people’s purchasing decisions. Our subtlety works to our advantage!
That being said, there are some introverted behaviors that you should be mindful of and work around when you can. Here are some simple things you can do.
Smile. Remember, the most effective form of communication is not words, but body language. Many times shy people are mistaken for being rude because they don’t smile or soften their face. This doesn’t mean you have to wear a Cheshire cat grin that feels wholly unnatural and might make you look a bit psychotic. Instead focus on just a soft smile and softening the facial muscles so you appear relaxed. When you do this, you actually do start to relax, which in turn will make others relax around you.
Body language. I mentioned this above with the smiling/softening the face, but also pay attention to your hand placement and posture. If you close your arms across your chest or wring your hands; this gives off a vibe of self-consciousness. It’s easy to turn around by keeping your hands busy or out in front of you in the open.
Bring something to work on and keep your hands busy if you have trouble in this area. Also, pick your head up and don’t look down constantly. Standing straight and looking out with your head held high projects a higher level of confidence and comfort.
Eye Contact. This is very hard for many introverts and takes practice, but this is another area where you can indeed fake it! Don’t believe me? Here’s my trick. I focus on the forehead of the person I am talking to right between the eyes. You still see their eyes, but it’s not a direct look and so that makes it a bit easier.
With practice, people have no idea that you are not making direct eye contact when you do this. Also, don’t stare, make quick eye contact and smile and greet, then you can safely look away and stay engaged in other ways. Talk, laugh, smile etc. Glance in their direction periodically and all is well. No one expects you to stare at them non-stop – how creepy ;).
Wear Soft Colors. Pink is an excellent choice. I am so not a girly girl and I rebel against pink in my daily life, but guess what shade I wear a lot as a vendor? Pink softens your look and gives you a more open and youthful appearance. It’s a great way to seem more approachable with no effort required.
Warm Up. Just like a soprano warms up before an Opera, it’s important for those of us in sales to warm up a bit also. Before your show opens, spend some time greeting other vendors. Most are very friendly and it can serve as an ice-breaker and build your confidence before talking to customers. Smile, ask them a bit about their craft, perhaps ask if they have been to this show before and how they liked it.
Opening up to other vendors is a great way for some potential cross promotion as well. You don’t have to be pushy or ask the vendor directly to work with you. You can say something like “Oh your scarves are so pretty; they’d look great with my earrings. I’ll be sure to point you out to anyone who picks up a set”. When someone offers to help me out; I am naturally inclined to check out their product and respond in kind. Sales and promotion doesn’t have to be “pushy” to be effective.
Use disarming comments. A great way to do this is to pay a meaningful comment. You don’t have to gush or be phony. For example; I will often look at the jewelry women are wearing and say something like “Your bracelet is so unique – I really like it”.
This makes you feel good and puts the person you are speaking to at ease. You don’t have to do this with everyone who crosses your path mind you, but it’s a nice ice breaker particularly if you sense the other person is also an introvert. It also tends to lead the other person to talk more – something that is often welcome to those of us who struggle to find words.
Once you get a person to open up to you; the largest part of your job is done. You can intuitively sense what they may be looking for or enjoying and then ask questions that help them open up more. Your question is more of an influence than you might think. For example “Are you shopping for someone special today?” might get your shopper to remember that their friend’s birthday is coming up.
Be a good listener. Another area where introverts excel is our listening skills. People once disarmed will often talk to us about things and that establishes a bond. Mirror your shoppers experience. If they tell you a story, return a brief experience of your own that shows you understand their perspective. This is an amazingly effective sales tactic – no “hard sells” or “closing the deal” kind of stuff necessary.
People who relate to you; who find you open and approachable, will more often than not buy from you. If they don’t want to buy today; be sure you have a business card on hand and offer it to them.
Often, being an effective salesperson means putting the jargon and slogans aside and using a human approach instead. Would you rather have someone hard sell you? Or genuinely communicate with you without the high pressure sales tactics? I know which I prefer…