Five Tips for Introverted Entrepreneurs to Grow Sales in B2B Startups

It's not enough to just have great ideas; you have to sell them too. Perhaps a few realities are as painful for introverted entrepreneurs in the startup world. But this skill is often misunderstood.

First things first: Selling well does not mean selling yourself by creating a different persona or exaggerating your personality. It's the opposite. You should appear genuine and behave as you normally would, especially in a business-to-business (B2B) sales model.

When you're selling to another business, decisions to buy are driven by rationale and trust. Appeal-to-emotion sales tactics are often inappropriate, and even elevator pitches can be off-putting. While these techniques create lead conversions in consumer sales, a B2B audience has a different set of values.

You should present well, but you don't need to be a schmoozer to get clients and accounts. Above all, be yourself and take these five tips with you.

1. People don't want to be sold. They want to be heard.

You can't sell to a customer you don't understand. Rather than going straight into a pitch, ask questions and try to appreciate their world. What are your customer's sticking points in their day-to-day work? What costs them money?

A famous yet simple question is often used to illustrate this concept, "can you sell me this pen?" Most respond by pitching the pen's features, like the blue ink, weight and design. They find these details attractive, so they assume their customer will, too. But features are only as important as the needs they address. What customer really cares about a fancy pen if their main concern is cost?

The best response is to forget "selling" and do what an introvert does best (let the other person do the talking). Ask questions to uncover needs, and then respond to that need with your solution. No sales acrobatics needed.

2. Be targeted.

You can try to sell a pen to a crab fisherman, but you'll probably have an easier time with someone who uses a pen every day. Give your time and energy to your core audience and ensure you have a relevant, focused value proposition.

Being targeted also means focusing on those clients in booming markets and industries. Selling to clients that don't have the capital to invest in you is an uphill battle that typically ends back at the bottom.

While it's easy to cast a wide net in B2B sales, remember that your own time is money. Do your research and create a targeted list.

3. Save the elevator pitch. Instead, be a problem solver.

Here's the problem with an elevator pitch: It's great if you're giving a monologue, but you want dialogue. Being truly prepared means becoming an expert in your customer's field, anticipating their needs and pain points before even asking.

Consider what questions you might ask your prospective customer. Research what they do, who they cater to and their history. What problems might they have, and how does your idea provide a solution? Make sure to know ahead of time how it could be implemented. Remember, a good sales pitch is a relevant one. Target yours to your customer's needs.

4. Referrals, referrals and more referrals.

There are few leads that will lower an introvert's blood pressure more than referrals. Being referred lends you instant credibility. Instead of navigating a cold introduction, you share common ground, making for a smoother sales process. The mechanics are the same - you need to let your client do the talking to discover their needs, but getting in the door and closing will be easier.

You can get referrals by asking for them from existing clients. Be simple and direct. Make it personal. The beauty of B2B sales is that you're often working with another entrepreneur. They understand what it means to grow a business; use this to your advantage.

5. Build a dynamic team unlike you.

People naturally look for their own traits and interests in other people. And while that's great for finding common ground, it's a poor business model. You want a team that compliments your own skill set. If that means you're analytical and reserved, it makes little sense to duplicate that.

The savvy entrepreneur understands having a veteran salesperson on staff is as important as the finance officer. And while this doesn't relieve you of your figurehead duties, sometimes having a partner at your side makes situations more comfortable.

You Got This

While introverted startup leaders often cringe at the fast talking, wheeling-and-dealing methods of traditional sales, you can rest assured the best persona to adopt is your own. Don't stress out if you're not a "people person," because if you're client focused and strategic, it won't matter in the end.


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