Are you an introverted freelancer wondering how you can get more sales?
I can empathise. It’s estimated that Introverts make up around 30%-50% of the world’s population. Introverts like myself are usually shy and quiet, and this may not always be an advantage especially in business. We’re magnetically attracted to the corners of a room during social gatherings, we fumble with our words when asked about what we do, and of course, we feel easily drained when we meet and talk to new people.
You must be thinking then, “how on earth can I do well in sales and run my business?”
Back when I was still studying in secondary school, I used to be so shy that I couldn’t even look in the general vicinity of my crush for fear of making eye contact.
I have come a long way since then, closing 6 figures in sales yearly, and more amazingly, I even had a girlfriend at one point (keyword – had). Both those incidents have made me believe that no matter how introverted you may be, there is still hope. After running sales in my company for 5 years, I’ve learned some ways to generate new business even without feeling too uncomfortable. Hopefully, after reading it, you can super-charge your sales journey as an introverted freelancer.
Streamline your networking approach
Unless you are a starfish who lives under a rock (no offense Patrick Star), you should learn how to introduce yourself and talk to people during social gatherings. As much as I dread it because of how draining it is to introverts, I can’t deny the positive effect it has affected for my business.
When I graduated school, I started Gram, my video production Singapore company right away, and I needed to find freelance clients. My first introduction to prospecting was when a friend of mine invited me to a professional networking session.
On my first visit, everyone appeared much older and more mature than myself (I was only 19). During the visit, someone approached me and asked me about what I was doing. I just shook her hands and sheepishly said that I was an animator.
The awkward smile and handshake was followed by an even more awkward conversation.
Thankfully, I’ve since learned about one-liners. They are used to explain what you do in a single sentence. One-liners are powerful positioning statements that can help you be memorable and differentiate yourself from your competitors quickly – especially since introverts don’t like talking too much.
Here’s what it consists of:
1. Who is your customer
2. The problem that they face
3. Your solution to their problem
4. What their lives would look like after the solution
For instance, a typical networking session would go something like this:
Random person: ‘Hi! So what do you do?’
Me: ‘Hi, we help business leaders, who need help explaining their company, by creating corporate videos as well as animation, to simplify and spread their message, so that they can better engage with their customers, and grow their business.’
Random person: ‘Wow interesting. Let me continue the conversation by asking another generic question.’
Of course, they might not say exactly that, but the conversation tends to become a lot more productive once the other party knows exactly what you do.
I couldn’t improvise to save myself so I’ve also learned to prepare a list of questions to carry on the conversation and seem a little more interesting. You can probably Google a list of questions to ask during networking to help make conversations more productive and deeper instead of being too hollow.
If you’re still afraid of networking because of what people would think, just keep in mind that people need you as much as you need them as well. It could be in the form of your own connections, skills, or experience, but there’s surely something that you can add value with. If not, remember that there’s also nothing wrong or dirty about a simple interaction as well. If you start every conversation with the intention to help, it’s a sure-fire way to help you feel better about it.
Takeaway: Processes are an introvert’s friend. Learn to create your own systemized process for networking as well as other areas to make the sales process more comfortable for you and your clients.
Fun Fact: My first ever networking session surprisingly landed me a deal with an established organization, which really started the ball rolling for my company. You will be surprised by the doors that people can help you open if you network well or at least put in a little bit of effort.
Become a Trusted Advisor, not a Sleazy Salesperson
Sales is traditionally known to be an extroverted activity, where you daringly approach others to push your services. Extroverts have the ability to socialize confidently at will and communicating boldly makes them more naturally suited for sales on the surface.
However, beyond those shallow interactions are where introverts can truly shine. As introverts, we have our own innate abilities – our softer, earnest-filled and sincere approach to helping people, and our strength as great listeners to deeply understand their problems. This is starkly juxtaposed in this fast-paced and self-centered society, and your clients can feel it.
For instance, when doing a corporate video production for my clients, sometimes they want it to be 5-10mins long. Although they are willing to pay a good price for it, I would still advise them to explore a shorter duration. This is because a shorter video may be more effective for them, even though I earn less from it. This way they will know that you are here to really provide them with value, instead of simply milking as much money as possible.
It also goes without saying that you must be excellent at what you do. To become a trusted advisor means you are able to recommend the right solutions to your client’s problem. This means constantly upgrading yourself, keeping up with the latest trends statistics, best practices to be at the top of your game.
Takeaway: Honesty coupled with expert advice is key to establishing trust, authority, and building long-lasting business relations.
Partner with others and tap on strengths
Being an introvert, I was always thinking of ways to get more contacts and clients by myself. What’s funny is that I hadn’t paused to consider working with others who could refer clients to me.
I first identified potential partners by thinking about where my videos could be shown at, what the different types of videos were and mediums that my videos could replace. I’ve seen videos appearing on websites, as well as social media and ads. They could also be an alternative form of presentations, from training presentations to AGM presentations.
These would later become my complementary services or ways that I could position my company. I started looking and reaching out to companies in the area of advertising, branding, presentations, web design, marketing, events and more, to offer them my services.
I prepared a partnerships deck and scheduled meetings with potential partners to collaborate, and shared about how we could refer each other’s services. This allowed us to offer a more comprehensive service package to our clients, so it was a win-win-win situation.
Basically, these partner companies would secure clients interested in our services and we’d give them a kickback for their time – win-win.
Takeaway: Think about how you can partner with other companies in your industry, be either a vertical or horizontal approach. They become the ones doing the selling for you. Of course, there are some trade-offs in the form of client management, client relationship-building, or lesser project fees.
Become a figure of authority and let them come to you
Have you ever watched a video or read an article online that taught you something new? What was your impression of that company? Probably something positive, and that you’d trust them to serve you as well.
This is a strategy that you can use as well. Instead of reaching out to potential clients, have them reach out to you. You can do this by creating educational content, such as simple guides, YouTube tutorials, or even podcasts.
First, offer value to your customers that trigger an emotional response, i.e. enrichment and gratitude. Make sure you ask for nothing in return at the start. Do this often enough, and you may convert them into your fan, someone who views you as a figure of authority.
This is because when most people receive value from others for free, they perceive them as someone who must be already successful in order to be willingly giving out free content. Therefore, they are also likely an expert in that industry, and that’s someone that they can trust to engage with their services.
This is part of Gary Vaynerchuk’s Jab Jab Jab Right Hook book as well. In the book, he talks about providing value to your customer, in the form of content, or engagement, which he references as ‘jabs’. This is followed by a right hook where you go in for the punch and asks for a sale, a meeting etc.
Think about it this way. Imagine a client is comparing two different companies: One company has a blog page that lists comprehensive guides and expert tips to help their customers, and the other one doesn’t have any useful resource at all. Who is your customer more likely to believe is a better expert? Naturally, the one who is actively presenting himself as the expert.
It makes every meeting that you go to a lot easier as well. The clients won’t be there to question your abilities because they believe you can likely deliver. The meeting can focus on discussing the actual problem, and how you can provide a solution to them.
You are also able to become more influential while trying to persuade your clients. For instance, your client might want to make a decision that could be potentially bad for business. Instead of painstakingly agreeing with them and possibly degrading your own work, you will be in a better position to persuade them to see things your way and to adopt your approach. After all, you are meant to be the expert.
You would have evolved from being a simple ‘order-taker’ to an actual consultant providing advice and solution.
Apart from establishing yourself as an industry leader, giving out content also drastically improves your SEO. What’s SEO? It means Search Engine Optimization, and it’s basically how Google ranks your website. The better your SEO, the higher you’ll be on Google when someone searches a relevant keyword for your services.
By constantly pushing out relevant content, it is easier for people to discover the value you provide. Google rewards this by ranking your website higher. This is a solid and proven inbound marketing strategy where clients come to you instead of you actively seeking them out. For introverts, this is a godsend, but it takes a longer time to see results.
Be sure to also share your content on as many social media platforms as possible, i.e. your own Facebook, LinkedIn, Medium, and your own website of course. I’ve gotten a number of deals just by sharing about the work that I do.
Takeaway: Being a figure of authority makes clients come to you instead of you going to them. They will also be more willing to trust your solution that you provide to them. This eliminates a large portion of the ‘selling’ that you have to do because they are already convinced that you can help them.
If you’re introverted, talking to others can be draining and sometimes even terrifying because we won’t always know what to say.
There is no easy way to get past this than working on it. Depending on your personality, you can choose to work directly on improving your people communication skills to improve your sales or augment your operations so that you can afford to talk less by having more prospects come to you instead by means I’ve mentioned above.
Try the different methods that I’ve listed here. They have helped me to understand myself better, and I’m sure they would for you too.
There’s no right or wrong way to do sales. At the end of the day, it’s all about how you do it in a comfortable and sustainable way. Feel free to share with us how you go around doing sales in the comments below.