"Curing" the Reluctant Salesperson

Education & Training with Sell with Soul

As a self-professed introvert (and proud of it), articles about the introvert experience frequently catch my eye. Unfortunately, so many of them center around "curing" introversion or "overcoming" introversion or "succeeding in spite of" introversion, especially when the topic in question is a career in sales.s

Well, I disagree, at least for REAL ESTATE salespeople. Sure, if you sell widgets or gidgets or smidgets and it's your primary job to continually SELL your product, then yeah, the natural personality of an introvert might get in the way. We don't like to bug people; we don't like to intrude on people; we worry constantly how others are perceiving us and therefore have a pretty tough time Doing Unto Others as We'd Hate Them to Do Unto Us (that is, try to sell them something they may not want).

But, I've always argued... how exactly is real estate a sales career? What, exactly, do we sell?

Houses? Uh, no. We don't actually sell the house.

Ourselves? Well, yes, but so do a lot of other self-employed professions and we don't call them salespeople. When you visit your accountant and he helps you through a complicated process (e.g. filing your tax return) and gives you professional advice, is he selling? When your general contractor manages all the moving pieces and parts of your construction project, is he a salesperson? When your dentist uses his professional expertise to do your root canal and oversees the process from start to finish... is he selling?

No, and neither are we when we help our clients buy or sell homes.

Sure, we need some sales-type skills... we need to be able to write appealing copy for our marketing materials; we should be good negotiators and we should have some systems in place to stay in touch with the people we know and a plan to meet new people, but I don't think one needs "natural sales ability" (whatever that is) to be a good writer/negotiator/stay-in-touch-er. In fact, one might argue that we introverts (‘cause we LOVE the details) might actually be better at such things!

No offense to our wonderful, delightful, charismatic extrovert friends, but STOP trying to cure us. We're terrific just the way we are!!! And yeah, we can SELL REAL ESTATE!

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Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County

We are not "salespersons" at all but rather advisers, service providers, mind readers....and being introverted is not a handicap at all.

Jul 09, 2008 11:59 PM #2
Ken Tracy
Coldwell Banker Residential - Naperville, IL
Helping clients buy and sell since 2005

Hi Jennifer.  I am certainly not an introvert but I still couldn't agree with you more.

Jennifer Lee was also right on about being better listeners.



Jul 10, 2008 12:04 AM #3
Derenda Grubb
CENTURY 21 Mike D. Bono & Co.'s - Lake Charles, LA

Hi Jennifer,

I have a suggestion.  I have never thought of myself as a saleperson either.  I am certainly no an introvert, but I do not like having MY privacy interrupted and how I agree with all that you said.  I feel there is one real solution to your image issue.  I have always been very proud of viewing myself as a REALTOR.  I never introduce myself as a salsperson anymore than a doctor would introduce themselves as "pill pushers".  You take the proper title that describes the COMPLETE job that you conduct, not only one small aspect of that transaction.  Have a great day as a REALTOR.

Jul 10, 2008 12:05 AM #4
Chip Jefferson
Gibbs Realty and Auction Company - Columbia, SC

As long as you can socialize and be likes the personality type can become a mute issue. Generally speaking the extrovert is more aggressive.

Jul 10, 2008 12:06 AM #5
Stacie Colclasure
Gateway Holding and Referral Company - Bethalto, IL
Realtor, Bethalto, IL

Jennifer - I couldn't have said it better myself.  Thanks for the encouragement this early in the morning.  :)

Jul 10, 2008 01:44 AM #6
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Jennifer, I'm an INTJ I and can see where you are coming from. By the way, I attended your teleseminar yesterday and it was very worth while. Thanks.

Jul 10, 2008 02:09 AM #7
Patricia Weber

Spot on Jennifer. I'm an INTJ. Your comment "stay-in-touch-ers" - well; as introverts we don't want to chase one relationship after another so we are motivated more to stay in touch.

There are at least a dozen reasons why introverts have a NATURAL hard wired in the brain advantage to sales and I would love to offer your readers my f*ree report

How can we make that happen?

Patricia Weber
Sales Accelerator Coach
For Introverts, Shy and Reluctant

Jul 10, 2008 03:58 AM #8
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

I find I take introverts more seriously than I do extroverts when it comes to evaluating services.  Is this fair?  No, but too much extrovert "rah rah" leaves me cold and feeling as if someone is trying to SELL me, rather than help me with my decision.  Just seems fake and therefore, not as credible.

You don't need to be an extrovert to be a good negotiator or a good closer.  Some people think if they talk more - or louder - than the next person, they will somehow "win" when in reality, they are often so busy talking and being "social," they don't even realize they are being quietly finessed and outmaneuvered.  


Jul 10, 2008 04:01 AM #9
Deborah Burroughs
San Diego, CA

Jennifer, I like your attitude!! And of course, you are correct when you say that introverts don't need a cure. Introverts have a different approach, that's all. And as you point out, it works just fine. Thanks for the reassurance... I think it's great that you've never made a cold-call or knocked on a stranger's door. You are proof that subtle approaches work just as well.

Jul 10, 2008 11:13 AM #10
Patrick Johnson
Windermere - Bellingham, WA

This is a great post! I too have never thought of myself as "selling" homes, but helping people with the process of buying or selling........there is a big difference. I am not super agressive because of this attitude!

Jul 10, 2008 11:33 AM #11
Lisa Hill
Florida Property Experts - Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Beach Real Estate

I get what you're saying about what we're selling, but some people are argumentative and will just play symantics about it. I think I'll stick with the selling real estate wording. Regardless, we all need a kick in the seat of the pants at times.

Jul 10, 2008 02:56 PM #12
Brandon Weber
Weber Property Group - Sacramento, CA

In the words of a past President, "it depends on what the meaning of 'is' is."  What I mean is, sales can be broadly or narrowly defined.  I tend to think we are selling all day long.  Some of us just do it differently than others.  Have you ever considered that being so unlike other real estate salespeople is actually your 'value proposition'?  I think that great salespeople are of all kinds.  

Thanks for the great post!  I'm definitely going to subscribe =)

Jul 11, 2008 06:22 PM #13
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Susan - Your comment reminds me of all the "helpful books" about overcoming your clients' objections. How to point out where they're WRONG so that they'll BUY and you'll get a commission. Oh, sure, every once in a while, a guru will point out that we're actually helping THEM make the right decision, but in most cases, it's all about beating them into submission so we get a commission (hey, that rhymes). I never try to overcome objections - I usually agree with the objection which almost always results in the client exploring the objection all on his own! Maybe that IS a sales skill!

Deborah - "Subtle" is a good word. So is "respectful." I just stay true to who I really am and it seems to work!

Patrick - your approach will work far better for you than any aggressive one! Keep up the good work.

Lisa - I don't mind referring to my job as "selling real estate." But I just don't think of myself as a salesperson. As you say... semantics...

Brandon - Agreed - as many say, everyone on the planet is in sales in some form. But yes, I believe that my approach to "sales" is much more effective than many of the gurus' approaches that, as I said above, advise beating your client into submission. Blech!

Jul 12, 2008 12:13 AM #14
The Somers Team
The Somers Team at KW Philadelphia - Philadelphia, PA
Delivering Real Estate Happiness

Is a beautiful post - so true.  In the last decade of so, I have had complete satisfaction and acceptance with my personality.  Sometimes I would wish to be that extreme outgoing guy telling all the jokes at the parties, but I like being the quiet introvert - and I still do love to sell !  I think it is an art - dealing with people, negotiations... geting deals closed.  I also believe the introverts have better listening skills which is also crucial to the selling process per se.

Jul 12, 2008 12:59 AM #15
Paul LeMay
Caretaker Property Services - Tulsa, OK

Great post, I am somewhat of an introvert, I can be a bit extroverted at times however when working I tend to listen and guide the client to what they want.  Years ago I worked in a furniture store, I hated the word salesmen, and I hated the force sales pitch, I hated when we were forced to sell add ons, or to keep asking for the sale at various levels.  Over the years, I built up a solid client base of repeat customers, simply by listening, guiding customers to what would meet there needs and by providing outstanding service, saying what you mean, and do what you say.  Where there times, did I attempt using a closer like, well let me go write it up, yes, but they were rare. 

The selling comes in all professions, that is the selling of yourself, establishing a repoire.  But hard sell, no place for it in Real estate, I guess being the somewhat introverted can be a good thing. 

Jul 12, 2008 04:42 AM #16
Heather Oberhau
Prudential Fox & Roach - Newtown, PA
Bucks County Real Estate, e-PRO

Amen!  I'm really good at taking care of people - and that's what I think a true salesperson's job is.  The only thing we would be "selling" would be products/timetables that benefit US, rather than our clients, and that ain't soulful.  People come to us because they want the product that we're selling, we don't have to talk them into it, just help them find the right offer/home for them.

Jul 12, 2008 05:56 AM #17
Patricia Weber

I've been blogging about the introvert sales advantage and totally agree with what you are saying. On a recent blog, I asked why would an introvert want to become more like an extrovert when all the power is already within them? So as relates to selling:

Learning. We love learning about our prospects and do a darn good job of listening.

Peak productivity. Preferring to work by ourselves we benefit from staying focused, a key in peak performance. When it’s time to pull together with a team, we can do it.

Creativity. Our approach is we focus longer and think well on our own, so we have the energy to put out creatively in anything we do. 

Thanks for your positive words about introverts in sales - we are just what the world needs now.

Patricia Weber
Business Sales Accelerator Coach for Introverts, Shy and Reluctant
Blogging Business Sales Ideas for Introverts, Shy and Reluctant

Mar 23, 2009 01:44 AM #18
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Patricia - that link didn't work - can you check it? We should talk further - I'm working on my next book which is for introverted "sales"people - or better said - small business owners who are responsible for bringing in business, but loathe the thought of chasing it down.

Mar 23, 2009 01:50 AM #19
Patricia Weber

http://tr.im/3wayipower is the shortcut to the link at http://www.patricia-weber.com. You and I are talking simliar things Jennifer as I JUST released, end of January, Networking Secrets for Sales Reluctance: How I Overcame Unsuccessful Networking as an Introvert. There is a free report that gives just a glimpse of our introverted strengths in sales: http://www.introvertsellingtips.com

Let's connect at one of these sites and then email to talk further: http://www.twitterpatweber.com or http://www.facebookpatweber.com



Mar 23, 2009 02:02 AM #20
Thank you for sharing! I awlyas feel a little guilty about not getting out and socializing more with my Son, (who is now 29 months) but, transportation and finances won't awlyas allow it and, i'm also an introvert. The only person to watch my Son, before he was a year and a half, was a my Husband. So far, we've only left my Son with his Grandparents and, recently, his Aunt, for a Date night. We've only had two since our Son was born. We stay at home, enjoy some wine, watch a movie or, do individual things we enjoy while our Son is napping or, down for the night. We went on "Family Dates" until my Son's desire to sate his curiousity with exploration at restaurants, (i.e. he would only stay in a highchair or, lap for 15-20 min. before becoming restless). That's when my Husband and I stopped eating at restaurants with our Son, (it stopped being a pleasurable experience and more stressful and anxiety ridden). Now that our son is 29 months, we feel a lot better about having family watch him but, we still don't go out and do a lot of things. We're happiest at home. =)
Jul 26, 2012 04:19 PM #21
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