Rocking Sales As An Introvert Entrepreneur

Would you hire an introvert to sell your eighty million dollar airplanes? Aren’t introverts too shy and quiet to be in sales? Is it possible for introverts to succeed as entrepreneurs if they have to go out and sell their ideas?

I love these questions because they lead to myth-busting. As an introvert, entrepreneur and writer I get to create a character who shows that the exact traits that some see as a detriment to selling are what can make introverts rock stars in sales.

I’m currently writing book five in this seven book series which features Vivienne Ramsey, a quiet, hard-working, super-organized young woman who climbs to the top of the private jet sales industry by using her introvert traits. It wasn’t hard to image how it could happen. Her transition from a secretary to jet sales might surprise her and some others but I knew she could do it from the beginning. (It helps when you’re the writer ;-)).

The idea for the story came from my  own business experiences. I’ve failed at a few sales jobs. I was hired to work commission sales in a boutique dress shop and was run over by all the more outgoing sales staff. I tried opening a home-party based business where I had to call on all my friends and family and their friends and family and so on, and so on. A year after starting my manager was still trying to explain to me how easy it is to approach women in the grocery store to discuss their make-up and set them up for a party. I thought there was something wrong with me because I felt so uncomfortable doing it. It took me a long time to figure out that it wasn’t that I couldn’t sell, it was that those particular types of sales were not where I could shine.

Cold calling isn’t an introverts best skill but there are a lot of business that require no cold calling and rely on strong, long-term relationships to make sales. This is where introverts shine. This is how my character, Vivienne, is selling the hell out of those jets (at 1% commission on eighty million–you do the math). Vivienne is quiet, not because she has nothing to say, but because she loves to study people. She learns a lot about her clients by keeping her mouth shut and letting them do the talking. She has no problem keeping the spotlight on them because introverts naturally don’t like to be the center of attention. Once she knows what they need she follows through on every detail, often giving them more information than they even asked for. Finally jet sales in particular lets her shine because she is a female in a very male-dominated field. Introverts are used to being the odd man out and Vivienne knows how to work this to her advantage. She brings all the traits that her male, extroverted competition doesn’t have.

As the story progresses Vivienne is learning more about herself and about the skills she’s naturally great at and those she will always struggle with. In the scene I wrote yesterday she is attending her first business lunch as a female entrepreneur. The pre-lunch social hour is a struggle, but once she is in a smaller group, during the meal, she listens and learns that all the women at her table struggle with some aspect of their business. No entrepreneur can be good at all parts of running a business and these women remind her that its smarter to  hire someone to do the things you can’t.

Ironically (or maybe not because introverts are intuitive) I got a perfect infographic this week about introverts in sales from the lovely and charming Emily Parker. I’m sharing it with you because it’s a concise visual that explains exactly why Vivienne is a quiet honey who is makin the money.

Introverts in Sales
Source: CollegeMatchup.net

Introvert entrepreneurs, share your sales stories. Have you found a way to make your introversion work for you? Reply in comments below and help others see all the ways being the quiet one can be a benefit.

And keep an eye out for Vivienne. I’ll be publishing the first book in the series, “Fearless Flying” in a few months. I’m working on some covers and writing all the way to the end of her fantastic journey so I can release the rest of the series quickly.

 

 

 

 

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Where the Smart, Sexy, Supportive Women Are

I had a revelation about tribe when I read the above quote; I can choose my own tribe. By using the internet I can chose the five (or more) people who I want to spend the most time with. 
The more I thought about this the more powerful the idea became. I started thinking about who I would want to hang out with every morning as I started my day. Danielle LaPorte was the first who came to mind. She’s a cool combination of smart business sense and sexy spirituality and I could really benefit from having coffee with her every morning. So I subscribed to her her daily Truthbombs (and you can too,here) and followed her on Pintrest and Twitter. Now she’s in my tribe. Boom, done!
I liked this idea and I was on a roll. Who else did I want in my tribe? Who’s thoughts did I want filling my head? Faith Popcorn, brilliant futurist? I subscribed to her newsletter and followed her on Facebook. Boom, done! Now I’m looking at my days with a savvy eye on the future. 
I didn’t have to stop there. I wanted more smart, sexy, supportive women in my tribe so I spent time seeking them out. Here’s a hint…they hang out together. My latest favorite podcast is Pushing Boundaries with T&A. I’m soaking up their ideas on women in general and sexuality in particular. They are a sociology geek’s dream. So, not only did I follow them, I followed the trail of the people they follow and followed along (are you following me here?) I spent hours finding a lot of women I would love to spend more time with and now I get to. 
I may never meet some of these women in person (but then again I might). My point is that whether I do or don’t I can benefit from surrounding myself with them. As I grow as an author and a person these are the women who’s ideas I want filling my head. I want my email inbox, Pintrest page, Facebook feed, and Tweets to be full of insights, cheerleading, sensuality, and spirituality.  The key is making a conscious choice about who you have in your tribe, deciding who will influence your view of the world based on where you want to go and who you want to be. 
I invite you to take a look at your influencers–who are they? What’s their message? Are they pointing you in the direction you want to go? Are these the people you want in your tibe? 
If you found this post helpful I’d love to be part of your tribe of supportive women. I post information about my writing, but also focus on the image of women in the media and women supporting women in business. You can follow my blog and find me on:

or my webpage: KarenGordonAuthor.com 

The E Tribe

 The show Survivor is a sociology geeks dream. Not only do they throw people into an extenuating environment, but they also mix things up by artificially creating tribes based on age or gender or race (a very un-PC but interesting season). The new season starts this week with a new twist; contestants will be divided into tribes by the type of work they do–white collar tribe, blue collar and a no collar or entrepreneur tribe. Not only does this excite the sociology geek in me, it calls to me as an entrepreneur too. 


I’ve written before about tribe and ways this social construct is changing and ways it effects our lives. Tribe was a huge theme in my first novel, Burnouts, Geeks & Jesus Freaks: a love story (hence the title). We are naturally drawn to like people with shared interests and form tribes or social groups. It’s a combination of who someone is as well as mutual benefit that forms a tribe and determines how effective they are at meeting goals. If your goal is to win Survivor the no-collar group might have the advantage.

So what skill sets are we looking at here? What differentiates an entrepreneur from a white or blue collar worker? 
1) Risk taking – the no-collar worker is the only one who is not counting of the safety and security of an already existing company for pay and benefits. They would rather sink or swim on their own than work by another’s rules. And although many sink, they also tend to pop back up and try again, using lessons from their first try to do a better job the second (or third) time around.
2) Resourcefulness – Working from your own shoestring budget or seeing where every penny is being spent in a business forces entrepreneurs to make do and find creative ways to make things happen. This is a skill that white collar and blue collar workers don’t develop when they are given the funds they need to do the work they are assigned. 
3) Planning – poor planning is what sinks most first endeavors for entrepreneurs, so they learn the value quickly. And when creating the big-picture plan is completely on your plate, you take the time to look at all the factors: outside and inside forces that can impact your game plan. 
4) Learning – owning a business is not only about creating something to sell, but also about marketing and finance. Successful entrepreneurs naturally search for more information; the best way to do something.
5) Passion – TGIF is the moniker of those who might like their jobs on some days, but they will never love their jobs the way an owner does. Even if they aren’t at work, they are often thinking about work and ways they can make it better. And they bring this passion to anything they commit to. It’s part of their nature. 

Does this guarantee that someone from the no-collar tribe will win this season of Survivor? Not really. Entrepreneurs are also solitary by nature. They like to do things alone, their own way. If you’ve watched the game before this can equal disaster for a player. The one who steps up as leader first is often the first shot down because he or she is seen as too much of a threat. The one on the outside of the groups, bonded to no one is seen a suspicious and possibly untrustworthy. And the social element isn’t the only factor. Personally, I would be a whining ball of jangled nerves after maybe a week of sleeping with bugs and creepy-crawly things and subsisting on half-cooked rice. And then there’s the challenges…horrible memories of grade school gym class surface anytime I think of me competing in one. The final wild card that keeps me from predicting a winner is that while these people are supposed to represent each business type, they were all actually chosen for their TVQ ratings or how much a TV audience will react to them, good or bad. Survivor, after all, is a business too, one that survives on ratings. 

For past posts on tribe see: Finding Your Tribe or What Your Tribe Says About You

Who is your money on to win this season of Survivor? Comment below and make your predictions now.

What Your Tribe Says About You

Tribe has still been on my mind a lot.  This past week I was thinking about how the tribe(s) we belong to effect how we age and how we feel about getting older.  

All tribes have expectations about how you should act in all parts of your life, and aging is one of them.  But tribes don’t hand you a list of rules when you join (but that would be so convenient).  We are drawn to tribes through mutual interests or we are born in to them in family or community.  If you pay close attention, there are subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) messages about behaviors that are acceptable in that group for every age.  


Growing up I had an Aunt who was a blast.  She and her family were very social, very involved with their church and the local VFW.  They constantly had really fun parties at their house.  My Aunt was a big woman, but the thing I remember most about her was how stylish she was.  She went to the salon every week to have her hair styled and get a mani/pedi (bright red, of course).  Those social groups were her tribe and the time, effort and money she invested into looking glamorous was part of being a member of those tribes.  She was following the unspoken formula to be a member in good standing of that tribe.  

Other tribes can really suck the life out of you.  The fearful tribe comes to mind.  This group spends an inordinate amount of time looking for signs of the end of the world and preparing for it.  Not only does the stress of living this lifestyle make you look and feel old, but their focus is never on things as useless as beauty and fun.  My Aunt would have been seen as a frivolous and silly for enjoying her life instead of spending it fearing the oncoming doom (that never happened in her lifetime anyway).  

I am also avoiding any women-hating tribes.  These don’t usually actively advertise that they hate women, but they spend a lot of time and energy suppressing women’s beauty, sensuality, joy, power.  The saddest thing about these tribes is that it is almost always the women in the group who hold each other down.  God forbid any of them get so uppity as to try some blue nail polish or spend an hour or so on themselves, exercising or primping or just being a girl.  

The final tribe I am running from is the nay-sayers.  No one in this group is ever going to be successful and they make sure of this by knocking any big idea or dream you might have.  This group shuns and punishes those who dare to reach beyond the rest of the group.  Gossip is their favorite weapon and they are easy to spot on social media.  They post hate rants about whatever or whoever is the current media rage.  Members are rewarded with praise by other members for taking the time to write hate letters to Miley Cyrus or create mocking videos on YouTube.  I stumbled on a writers group the other day who have dedicated an entire forum to writing biting criticism of “50 Shades of Grey”.  Jealousy never makes you feel young (childish maybe).  

The best news is that you get to chose your tribe(s).  If you find yourself in one that doesn’t suit you, don’t stick with it because it’s the people in your neighborhood or people you work with, etc.  Go out and consciously find people you truly connect with, who build you up, enhance your life, and make you feel genuinely happy to be whatever age you are.   

Finding Your Tribe

It was an article from one of my favorite happy web sites, Positively Positive, that got me started thinking about tribe.  The article was about finding your tribe, the people who are most like you and accept you for who you are.  It stressed the importance of having a tribe, whether family or friends, and the importance of feeling connection to a tribe on our health.  

I love this idea, and it brought up so many follow-up ideas and questions, like:  can you create a tribe or do they just form naturally?  How many big and small life decisions do we make that involve tribe;  getting into one, staying in one, getting out of one? In order for a tribe to remain intact, do they punish dissenters or kick them out or just ignore them?  Then I started thinking about the internet and tribe.  I was amazed at how much of what we do online is in the name of creating and developing tribes.  

By definition a tribe is a social division of people, a family or a group of people with something in common.  Before the internet you were pretty much limited to the tribe you were born into (family and community) and if you didn’t feel like you fit in, you could get the hell out of dodge and go find someplace you felt more connected when you were old enough.  I would imagine there was a lot more personality bending for the sake of conformity in those days. 

The internet brought us a new way to connect with others with like interests. I have found like-minded people online to connect with as a new mom, writer, blogger and book lover.  Facebook has recreated my tribe of silly girls from high school and my closest sorority sisters from college even though we are all living in different parts of the country.  We can now instantly turn to each other for memories or advice, for connection.  

Ironically we are in an era of rampant individualism.  This blog is me, expressing myself to anyone who is interested.  Haters call it narcissistic, I call it finding my tribe, those who have ideas and opinions in common with me.  The more I feel connected to (you) fabulous blog readers, the stronger I sense of self I feel.  I feel accepted, so I am more accepting of myself.

Many days I don’t leave my house.  All of my jobs involve either writing on the computer, working online or doing things at home.  It would be easy to feel isolated and at times I have, so now I reach out through my blog and Pinterest and Facebook and Twitter and other blogs.  I’ve found my tribe(s), my connection, my hommies. 

Here’s a link to a great website for a dose of happy everyday: Positivelypositive.com