Life as an Introvert in Sales

Written by Karen Zhang

Karen Zhang is an accounting student at the University of Florida and a sales development representative at The Selling FactoryGiven the flexibility of accounting, she is also interested in pursuing business law or forensic accounting. Karen’s has the ability to understand others’ needs and convey solutions quickly. This ability will improve the fluidity of the work process when she starts a career path in audit.

Photo on Pexels by Samuel Theo Manat Silitonga

“Why are you so quiet?”

As an introverted person with social anxiety, I used to be embarrassed whenever someone would mention how I wasn’t seemingly contributing to the conversation. Usually, I listen and nod on, happy to let others chat about topics they enjoyed. I feel more comfortable listening to others speak and only interjecting when I’m ready to say something. Even though I’ve gotten better at public speaking and speaking in a group in general. I had to steel myself beforehand so I could collect my thoughts and convey a meaningful message.

Challenges of Being an Introvert in Sales

Working in sales was a new experience for me. When I started as a Sales Development Representative at The Selling Factory, I was apprehensive about calling complete strangers. Because of my fear of rejection, I dreaded dialing the phone and having to hear another lead say “No, thank you”. It was difficult to remain conversational throughout my shift. I had to take a short pause between each call to reflect on what went well and what I could improve to provide a better experience. 

However, as I got accustomed to the rhythm, the tasks got easier as I kept going. By adapting the cold calling script to different situations, I became more comfortable with initiating conversations and holding small talk with leads while I provide guidance or offer services. I lost my fear of rejection as I got more rejections from leads. I took it in stride as a part of the process, rather than a reflection of my quality of work.

Even though I continually challenged myself to step out of my comfort zone, sales was no longer a daunting task.

Advantages of Being An Introvert In Sales

Despite the belief that one needs an outgoing personality to work in sales, studies like Murray Barrick’s of Michigan State University show that extrovertedness is not directly correlated with better sales performance. In fact, a report from the Wharton School of Business “indicates that organizations benefit from training highly extraverted salespeople to model the quiet, reserved tendencies of their more introverted peers.”

A core strength of introverts is their ability to be active listeners. Oftentimes, this allows them to process information thoroughly before giving advice or opinions. When salespeople understand the customer’s needs, they are able to  provide a solution and properly address the customer’s expectations. Along the same lines, introverts ask better questions and get to the heart of the issue faster when listening to customers.

Another strength introverts have is their tendency to think analytically and reflect on what they say before they speak. Instead of relying on fast-talking or bravado, which can alienate customers instead of winning them over, introverts convey sincerity through their speech. According to Harvard Business Review, 91% of top salespeople demonstrate traits of modesty and humility, which are often found among introverted people, making it easier to build rapport with clients. 

Lastly, introverts rely on preparation, which is sometimes more effective than natural charisma. Since introverts are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, they often practice before they engage in the actual process. As an introvert myself, I don’t mind putting in the extra time to assure that I’m confident about what I am going to do. Introverts who often do their research and  prepare are able to mitigate anything unexpected that may occur. 

3 Tips to Work Through the Social Anxiety

Introvertedness is not a flaw that needs to be fixed. The introvert and extrovert personality types are a kind of spectrum that all of us reside within. Skills from both sides are important to meaningfully engage with others. However, there are a few reminders that make the sales process and dynamics easier for introverts who are hesitant about their sales role.

#1 No One is Judging You

You are a disembodied voice. The customer doesn’t know what you look like, what your full name is, or how old you are. If you mess up a pronunciation or fumble during a conversation, people rarely remember the small details that happen during the call. Try not to let your fear of rejection cause you to overthink the process. Also, try not to feel like you have failed if you didn’t convince them from your first few attempts. Focus on connecting with the lead and build a compelling argument for your product or service. Don’t be afraid of failure. You are doing a great job!

#2 It Gets Easier Through Practice

When I first started calling, I experienced a few social anxiety effects. My hands would get clammy and sometimes my voice would even shake. Compared to the social anxiety effects I experienced when I was younger, when I would tremble just reading a passage aloud in class, I have improved tremendously. I have made over 3000 calls, and this experience made me more confident in my abilities. The iterative nature of the sales call process will slowly help you get accustomed to speaking to customers. Over time, it will get less stressful and the social anxiety effects will subside until it’s second nature.

#3 Give Yourself Time to Recharge

Calling and interacting with people during a long shift may be draining. Don’t be afraid to take short breaks, drink water, and recharge before hopping onto another call with the cold calling script. If it makes you feel more ready, practice the cold calling script on your own or with someone so that it feels natural when speaking. Once you feel ready, you’ll sound more confident when speaking.

Remember, all things take time and you have all the skills you need to succeed. Best of luck!

Victoria Zamitalo

Campaign Manager

Victoria received a BA in History and Economics from the University of Florida in May 2023. She is a driven sales professional with over 5 years combined experience in customer service, consumer relations and outbound sales, and is deeply passionate about fostering close relationships between consumers and sellers. She aims to train the next generation of sales professionals in not only the tricks of the trade, but also interpersonal skills that make sales the exciting and ever-changing industry that it is.

Mia Semel

Campaign Manager

Before graduating with a B.A. in Sustainability Studies, Mia took on multiple roles while interning at The Selling Factory, including sales development, recruiting, and leading campaigns. She is an active listener and effective communicator, specializing in fostering genuine connections and finding common ground among differing perspectives. She aims to find practical, creative solutions regarding sustainable development, biodiversity and the climate crisis.

Kira Grieve

Senior Campaign Manager

Kira graduated from the University of Florida and received her Master of Science in Entrepreneurship. She is passionate about helping businesses grow and connecting with new people. Some of her hobbies include traveling and hiking. She hopes to visit all of the National Parks one day!

Jared Glosser

Vice President

After graduating from UF in 2014 with a B.A. in history, Jared started his professional career Fundraising for a non-partisan political lobby in South Florida. In 2016, Jared moved back to Gainesville to work for a non-profit, recruit students for international travel opportunities, and pursue his MBA at UF. Jared has been with The Selling Factory since 2019 focusing on operations, client onboarding, and client success.

Ian Massenburg

Chief Operating Officer

A graduate of University of Florida (B.A. 2001), Ian Massenburg brings over 18 years of sales executive and sales management experience to The Selling Factory. Before coming on-board, Ian worked alongside Brad at Infinite Energy, and then spent his next 3 years as VP of Partnerships selling SaaS products B2B. Ian brings his vast knowledge and experience to the team and to our partner companies served.

Damien Paulk

Campaign Manager

Damien is a University of Florida graduate that recently joined the team full time after working as a Sales Development Intern for one year. As a Campaign Manager, Damien looks forward to contributing to the growth and success of The Selling Factory. When Damien is not at work he enjoys exploring Gainesville with his girlfriend and dog or watching the Gators dominate college football.

Brendan Viehman

Campaign Manager

Brendan graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Project Management. For the past 5 years, he has enjoyed working with blockchain technology and cryptocurrency development. In his free time, he surfs and makes personal finance videos for his YouTube channel.

Savannah Howard

Campaign Manager

A graduate from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications, Savannah obtained her Bachelor of Science in public relations with a concentration in French. After almost two years as a sales development intern for The Selling Factory, she joined the leadership team in 2021 taking on the role of Campaign Manager. In her free time, Savannah enjoys going to concerts and festivals and cooking for her friends and family.

Zack Kampf

Campaign Manager

Zack is a creative technologist with experience in advertising, event planning, and game design. He started as an SDR in 2018 and has been with TSF ever since. Upon graduating UF in 2019 he became a campaign manager and is currently seeking a master's degree from NYU. In his spare time, you can find him at the intersection of Art & Technology!

Josiah Blakemore

Growth Manager

Josiah has over 10 years of sales experience, worked with Brad and Ian at Infinite Energy, and also spent time selling SaaS as Director of Partnerships at SharpSpring. He’s always been very competitive and has a love for sports and games. He enjoys solving problems and coaching team members to do the same!

Sue-Ming Frauenhofer

Marketing Manager

Sue-Ming received both her B.S. in Psychology and M.S. in Management from The University of Florida. As a student, she took on multiple roles while interning at The Selling Factory, including sales development, marketing, and recruiting, eventually leading to her current role as Marketing Manager. She enjoys refining her taste in music and visual art, engaging in mindfulness and meditative practices, and frolicking outside with her sidekick pup.

Adam Grossman

Chief Development Officer

Adam is an ordained rabbi, who has founded multiple ventures focused on workforce development. Hired as CEO by a failing non-profit, in over 5 years, his ingenuity saved the organization, which led to recognize it as one of North America’s most innovative Jewish non-profits. His expertise to identify, cultivate, and on-board talent ensures our student teams meet our partners’ needs.

Brad Gamble

Chief Executive Officer

After graduating from UF in 1999 with a B.S.B.A, Brad Gamble has dedicated himself to sales management, branding, coaching, and building companies. He served as the VP of Sales & Marketing for Infinite Energy until 2014, when he founded The Selling Factory. He has dedicated himself to teaching critical skills to tomorrow’s leaders, and helping companies achieve sales success and revenue growth.