Introverts Can Become Great Conversationalists

Posted by in Books, How the Top 10% Do It!, Self-Management Strategies for Optimal Performance

As it happens, many of my clients are scientists, engineers, or technical experts. Because individuals in these industries can be very analytical, they also tend to be introverted, and do not generally see themselves as good salesperson material. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Harvard Business School recently did a study where they found that the typical salesperson, the chatty and extroverted ones, are perceived as less credible. Therefore engineers, scientists, and technical experts have an advantage over the rest of the salespeople in the world; they just need to discover their potential.

What I’d like to do now is explain a simple sales process to you. This process shows that, whether you’re introverted or extroverted, you can make a strong impact on your client.

About thirty years ago, there was a book called “I’m OK; You’re OK” that became an international bestseller. It outlined a process of communication whereby each conversation is a transaction. When each transaction is analyzed, it is determined to either come from the point of view of a Parent, an Adult, or a Child. The idea is to converse from the Adult perspective; this style of conversation is free of control words typically associated to someone with a parental attitude (You should), and is also free of the self-centeredness and low accountability (It wasn’t my fault; you made me) typical of the Child type of communication.

Typically, when salespeople meet with a prospect the stakes are high and they feel fear, doubt, or insecurity. Because of this, they will likely converse as a Child. They will perceive the client as a Parent who requires approval, and will approach the client using child-like language—they’ll try to appease the client as opposed to attempting to understand the issues in a pragmatic manner. In addition, they will scan the client or prospect for signals of approval and rapport, and if these signals are not received they feel uncomfortable. When the salesperson, or technical expert, treats the client as an equal—one Adult to another—the conversation will be much more productive. When we approach our prospects and clients as equals, we communicate at a much higher status level than someone who communicates as a Child—whose agenda is, “Please, approve of and like me”.

The conversations of a salesperson using Adult language will be one of parity and will have a much better outcome than one using Parent or Child language; these conversations will be full of content. They won’t ask only open or closed questions, nor will they steal the conversation by talking too much. They will ask simple questions about the issue being discussed. They will have completed some research in advance about the prospect or client’s industry and can ask questions that have high value. The information they gain will help them make intelligent and practical suggestions for providing a solution that will serve the client.

An Adult-to-Adult conversation has no recrimination, no blame, and no resentment in it. This is because an Adult-to-Adult conversation essentially comes from a place of agency instead of victimhood. A victim is someone who believes that his or her state of mind, or current circumstance, is caused by someone outside of themselves. They will converse as either a critical Parent or a Child. To be an agent is to know that you can take care of yourself while taking care of others; this is the most admirable trait of an Adult. An interesting note is that whatever conversation we use with others is the internal language we possess within ourselves.

In a sale’s scenario, you’re required to simultaneously take care of yourself while taking care of the client by completely understanding their issues. One way to take care of yourself, and the client, is to listen to their messages with understanding, not judgment. Clients using Child language are those who have the tantrums. They are the ones who do not take responsibility for anything that goes wrong with their projects…even if their project is delayed because their legal department did not sign off on the contract. Conversely, someone in sales with a Child perspective will become agitated and tense in response to the client’s direct communication. To decrease their stress, the salesperson will complain to everyone else on the team, thereby bringing everyone else on the team down. A Child wants to co-opt you into the drama; the Adult simply wants to amend it. In a conversation based upon complaining, a person coming from the Adult viewpoint will create a respective boundary and make a comment such as, “Let’s focus on the solution and avoid the drama”.

If you look at e-mails and other forms of written communication, you will find someone writing from a Child perspective will do so in the first person, using language such as “I”, “me”, or “my”. Someone with an Adult voice will practice concerned-inquiry. They will connect before providing content, and their favorite pronouns are “you”, “we”, or “us”. They will ask, “How can I help you? What issues are you facing?” They don’t jump into the solution until they understand the ramifications of the problem.

This is a topic well worth investigating. If you want to gain more information on this subject, I suggest that you scour your favorite second-hand book store and find “I’m OK; You’re OK”. Or, you can Google the term transactional analysis and you’ll find much more information. Not only is this style of communication more effective with clients, it truly is a significant change for any relationship.

This article is an excerpt from my upcoming publication:

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Sara Haynes, P. Eng.
Sigma Solutions

“I took advantage of Alice Wheaton’s offer for a free 30-minute consultation…but we chatted for almost an hour, during which I had several epiphanies that have inspired and motivated me to move forward. These were ideas that I could immediately start working on to help me get new clients and increase recurring revenues. This is what I call Value on Steroids!”

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