Meet me at a party and I won't have a lot to say. Sit next to me on a cross-country flight and I may not say a word to you the entire trip.
I am an introvert.
It has never been easy for me to start a conversation with people I don't know. But you wouldn't know it if you saw me on a Google Hangout, in a TV interview or at one of my sales seminars. When I got out of college I was terrified to go on a job interview until I realized employers weren't going to come to my house and hire me. At 23, I sold cars for seven years and never got comfortable saying hello to a customer. Yet I still figured out how to reach the top 1 percent of all the salespeople in the auto industry.
We can all be introverts or extroverts, depending on the situation. I know people who would be viewed as extroverts at a party they host, but when they are guests at a party where they know no one, they appear to be introverts. As a professional speaker and educator, I become extroverted in order to deliver information, but when I attend seminars I am much more introverted.
So, how do you become extroverted in a sales situation when you are not naturally comfortable with it?
This is what I do to step out of my comfort zone:
Get passionate. I become so excited about what I'm selling that I have to share it with the world. Becoming passionate about your product or service makes you less interested in how you are perceived and more concerned about showing excitement about what you have to offer.
Do one thing a day that you fear. It’s very important for me do the things that make me most uncomfortable. You need to be courageous and make a point of facing your fears, no matter how big or small. The single scariest thing for me was visiting my customers or prospects in person. So that is exactly what I did first thing every day to get over my fear. It instilled courage in me, belief in myself and changed my focus from limitations to possibilities.
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Be so persistent you get criticized for it. In life and in business, especially sales, you won’t become successful if you never get criticized. Follow up on customers so much that they actually complain about it, and once they do, keep following up until they admire you for your persistence. If you believe in your product, company and yourself, then you will be willing to insist—and risk being criticized for it.
Say hello to everyone you pass. I refuse to walk past any person without acknowledging him or her. I force myself to look everyone in the eyes and say hello. This builds a muscle enabling me to decide at will when I want to be extroverted, whether in a sales call or other situation.
Observe people for their differences. After a series of failed sales calls, you may start to see all prospects as likely rejections. What you need to do is take a moment and observe how people are different from one another. This will stop you from thinking that everyone is going to respond the same way your last few prospects did.
Force yourself to be in public. Step out of your home and office often so you can socialize with people. When I move to a new city, I will go to the same place over and over until I am comfortable and know everyone there. I have done this same thing with my children, bringing them to the same grocery store every morning until they could talk to the people working there as family.
Deliver public speaking engagements. The only way to become comfortable speaking to people is to get in front of audiences. Join a supportive group such as Toastmasters International where everyone is learning how to speak in front of others.
Stay busy. When you're constantly on the go, you don't have time to be uncomfortable. You have to ask for help, get help and talk to people because you are running from one sales meeting or event to the next. So, get moving.
Help other people make sales. Anytime I go a few days without making a sale for myself, I immediately offer my help to other salespeople because it’s a great way to get outside yourself. After several failures to close, a salesperson can become introverted and anxious. But by working with someone else's prospective customers and having nothing to lose yourself, you will feel more relaxed and regain your confidence. Once you score a sale for someone else, it’s back to your own prospects again.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Grant Cardone is an international sales expert, New York Times best-selling author, and radio show host of The Cardone Zone. He has founded three companies: Cardone Enterprises, Cardone Real Estate Holdings, and the Cardone Group. He has shared his sales and business expertise as a motivational speaker and author of five books: Sell to Survive; The Closers Survival Guide; If You're Not First, You're Last; The 10X Rule; and Sell or Be Sold.