Are You Too Shy for Sales?

Is there such a thing as being too shy for sales?. Getty Images

 You walk into a party, and the room is filled with people. Do you:

  1. Walk up to just about anyone and easily start a conversation?
  2. Find the nearest corner, hide behind the guacamole and hope that no one notices you?
  3. Realize that you've heard this "scenario-based" question a thousand times before and decide that you just don't care about answering it?

This question, and others like it, are often used in personality tests to determine if you are an extrovert or an introvert.

But the truth is, you don't need to answer stupid questions like this to know your personality type. You either are outgoing or more reserved. And when it comes to what you do when you walk into a party, your answer is probably "it depends on how I feel."

When it comes right down to it, it doesn't matter if you are extroverted or introverted. What matters is how comfortable you are with who you are.

But for people, who are introverted, thinking about a career in sales, they may ask themselves if they are too shy to be in sales. Many have the impression that sales reps are gregarious, outgoing people who would rather eat bark than to keep quiet. If that impression is correct and all sales professionals are extroverts, then your presumed answer is "yes, am I too shy to be in sales.

Guess what? You're wrong!

The Cold Hard Reality of Sales

If you are in sales, you better have thick skin. You will be rejected more times that you could count, you'll have customers angry with you and calling you all sorts of imaginative names and you will be expected to be good at public speaking, giving presentations and, of course, closing deals.

Yup, sales is a hard way to earn a living sometimes. But all the negative things about sales has nothing to do with whether you are introverted or not. 

Do you think that only extroverts can handle rejection while introverts are reduced to a pile of whimpering, fetal-position shaped grown ups?

No way.

And do you think that only people who prefer talking over listening are the only ones that can deliver a compelling and persuasive presentation?

Think again. To deal with the inevitable rejection that a career in sales will bring, it is way more important that the rep is comfortable with themselves rather than where they fall on a personality index.

Too Shy for Sales?

If your shyness prevents you from being comfortable in front of other people, then, yeah, you may be too shy for a career in sales. If you are so introverted that the idea of standing up in front of others and delivering a speech or presentation makes your bladder explode, you probably shouldn't think about a career in sales.

But if you are simply someone who is more comfortable listening to others and allowing others to start or drive conversations, but have no debilitating fear of public speaking, then you're probably not too shy for a career in the wonderful world of sales.

The Benefits of Being Shy

The general public opinion of sales reps is that they are fast talkers, often willing to stretch, bend or outright destroy the truth as long as they benefit from it. While this opinion may be true for some in sales (and in any other industry the world has ever known), it is not a universal truth.

If you tend to be quieter, you will disarm people who distrust sales professionals, giving you a tremendous advantage over your more extroverted constituents. You will be seen as being more honest by the simple act of listening more than talking.

And when prospects and customers consider you to be honest, your success is (almost) guaranteed.