How to Thrive in Sales as an Introvert

This is the story of how I overcame the fear of rejection as a face to face lead generator — and an introvert.

Fear of rejection is a common issue that salespeople face. After all, the entire sales process is based on putting yourself out there and making the ask.

And, unfortunately, there is always the possibility of hearing “no.”

If I can distill it into one sentence, it is this:

The fear of rejection can be overcome by choosing to change your mindset and focusing on your goals.

Related: Overcoming Sales Rejection: How To Turn Failure Into Opportunity Every Single Time

Yes, you’re going to get rejected. A lot.

First, it’s important to understand that everyone experiences fear of rejection at some point. It’s a normal human emotion, and a natural response to putting yourself in a vulnerable position.

The key is to not let that fear stop you from doing what you need to do.

I’ll take a deeper dive into this in a minute, but just to get you started, here are my personal best practices for overcoming the fear of rejection:

Remind yourself why you’re doing this

What are your goals? What do you want to achieve? Keeping your end goal in mind will help you to push through the fear and make the ask.

Don’t take it personally

Remember that rejection in sales is not about you as a person. It’s about the product or service that you’re trying to sell. (And sometimes not even that — it’s just not the right time for the prospect, or they don’t have the budget.)

Reframe your thinking about rejection

Instead of seeing rejection in sales as a personal failure, try to see it as simply part of the process. Not everyone is going to want what you’re selling, and that’s okay. The more no’s you get, the closer you are to a yes.

Remember, rejection is not the end of the world

If you get rejected, you can always dust yourself off and try again. The only way to fail is to give up altogether.

Handling rejection in itself is a skill. So don’t let fear of rejection stand in your way of success.

Introverts, your personality is actually a sales superpower ‍♀️

There’s a common misconception that introverts are at a disadvantage when it comes to sales. After all, how can someone who prefers Quiet Time be expected to thrive in one of the most high-energy environments imaginable? It seems counter-intuitive.

But the truth is, introverts actually have some key advantages in sales.

Contrary to popular belief, introverts can be excellent communicators and thrive in social situations –we just need more time to prepare and recharge after a conversation.

Since introverts often listen more carefully than they speak, we can quickly assess needs and build relationships with clients that lead to closed deals.

Still not sold? Here are my 7 tricks for thriving in sales as an introvert.

7 tips for thriving in sales as an introvert

1. Be clear about your why

Want to thrive in sales? Make it your goal. In fact, don’t just make it your goal. Make it a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG).

A BHAG is born, refined and crystallized from a burning desire to achieve a lofty personal goal which from where you’re standing right now seems out of reach.

You do not have to defend, justify or explain why it is important to you.

In the pursuit of your BHAG, you step out of the familiar and are willing to do what is uncomfortable and scary to realize that which means so, so much to you.

The gift is that you become the person who now has the skills, experience, knowledge, connections and networks to bring to tangible fruition what was once an idea you dared to entertain and nurture.

My Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) is still a work in progress. It was the impetus to leave a secure job which was in my comfort zone.

When I was at my face-to-face lead generation gig, I encountered a colleague from my previous job where I had status and prestige as the head of a larger research lab and he, a postgrad student.

The expression on his face was priceless, he sniggered and thought that I had fallen on hard times, and was desperate for any job including being a lead generator. Academics don’t do that.

I reframed the situation by reaffirming to myself, “Your opinion of me is none of my business”.

It was not worth the effort to explain my reasons for choosing to take on the lead generator role.

(That’s a story for another day. You can read it here: I Worked a Mall Kiosk for 2 Years. Here’s Everything I Learned About Selling. )

2. Understand your introverted personality traits and how they can help you in sales

Introverts are often great listeners, which can help us build better relationships with clients. We also tend to be more detail-oriented, which can help them assess needs and close deals.

Introverts may need more time to prepare for conversations and recharge after social interactions, but that simply means we’re taking the time to listen and process information more carefully. All of these traits can help introverts succeed in sales.

Bonus: Tap into all your talents you are blessed with

By that I mean channel your complementary traits — we all have them. Complementary traits are those we do not normally express ie those which do not come naturally but exist within us.

You just have to give yourself permission to express them and more importantly give yourself permission to shine.

Through practice, I could flip the switch and tap into the facets of me that are not normally expressed when I started my shift. These included being outgoing, lively, engaging, and even enjoying the banter and company of the prospect.

3. Genuinely believe in the product/service you are offering your prospect

As a face-to-face lead generator working for a home improvement company, I honestly believed that the products my company were offering would make life more comfortable and better for my prospects.

For example:

  • Installing roller shutters would help my prospect who is a shift worker living close to a main road get uninterrupted sleep during the day because of the insulation and noise deadening features of roller shutters.
  • Artificial lawn laid in their big backyard would give a time poor working couple more time to themselves to unwind and relax rather than spend their precious weekends mowing and maintaining a lawn.
  • A carport was an investment in protecting my prospect’s car from hail damage.

I had to learn enough of the technical specifications of the product to rebut the argument of why our products were more expensive than Company B’s. When I rattled off the in-comparison details, I could do it with integrity.

Humans are generally honest and it does not sit well with our conscience to fib. You can’t fake sincerity.

The prospect will also pick up whether you are genuine (or not) and make their decision of whether to continue dealing with you or walk away.

4. Persistence is key

Remember that sales is a numbers game – the more nos you get, the closer you are to a yes.

Remember that sales is a numbers game – the more nos you get, the closer you are to a yes.

Rejection is simply part of the sales process. Use each rejection as an opportunity to learn and improve your sales skills.

I recall a story by Jack Canfield, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul. He and partner Mark Victor Hansen pitched their manuscript at book fairs and got over 100 rejections. The most common response from publishing houses was that their manuscript did not have sex, drugs and violence and therefore would not sell.

They were persistent and did not give up. Over 500 million copies have since been sold and the book series translated into 43 languages.

Remember that rejection is not personal

Often, when we get rejected, we take it personally. We internalize the failure to clinch the deal and make it about ourselves. The mind games start and we think the prospect doesn’t like us or doesn’t think we’re good enough.

Don’t flatter yourself! Most of the time, people reject an idea or a proposal simply because it’s not right for them at that moment. They may have other priorities or they may not be interested in what you’re selling.

Keep this in mind the next time you get rejected and remember that it’s not about you. It’s about the other person and their needs.

Related: How To Get Over Rejection and Develop A Mindset For More Sales

Prepare for rejection in advance by rehearsing your pitch and expecting objections

Rehearsing your pitch will help you to be more confident and prepared when speaking to prospects, and expecting objections will help you to be ready with rebuttals.

The best way to overcome the fear of rejection is to be prepared.

Rehearse your pitch in advance so that you can deliver it confidently, and expect that you will receive objections from clients.

By being ready with rebuttals, you can show prospects that you’re knowledgeable about your product or service and that you’re ready to address their concerns.

Related: 7 Perfect Sales Pitch Examples (And What Makes Them Work)

Don’t dwell on failures

Failure is part of life and it’s especially true in sales. When something doesn’t work out the way we want it to, our natural tendency is to dwell on it and let it bring us down. But this only serves to keep us stuck in our fear of rejection.

Don’t beat yourself up over them. You are using up precious energy on a highly unproductive mental activity.

Consider this as one of many learning opportunities.

5. Take time out for yourself to recharge your energy

Introverts need more time to recharge after social interactions. This is smart self-care!

Make sure to take some time for yourself after sales interactions. This will help you to recharge and be ready for your next gig.

Allow yourself some time to relax and unwind so that you can be at your best when speaking with prospects.

I practised 2 rituals:

i) Immediately after I finished my shift, I would sit in my car for 15 minutes in silence before heading home. This quietened my mind, and allowed the adrenalin to subside. It was to get back my sense of equanimity and calm.

ii) After the day’s interactions, take a hot shower in the evening. It is a conscious act of not only washing off what you physically pick up in your immediate sales environment that may not be healthy, but metaphorically also removing the not so positive vibes that sometimes come with meeting people etc.

Plus, you’re more likely to get a good night’s sleep after a hot shower.

6. Find a mentor or coach who can help you stay motivated during tough times

Instead of listening to the radio before work, pop on an audio book of the best sales coaches in the business. Your mentor does not have to be in the flesh, as finding a good in-person mentor who can guide you through your sales career can be a hit or miss.

I would scour YouTube and find clips of motivational speakers like Jim Rohn and Les Brown, listen to their talks and take notes. Then put into practice what they taught.

Simon Sinek is another great speaker who focuses on the importance of the “WHY” of building a business.

7. Use positive self-talk to boost your confidence and keep you going

The temptation is to always compare ourselves with others. It’s hard not to notice where you are on the leader board especially at the Monday morning lead generation team meeting.

Positive self-talk is a powerful tool that can help you overcome the fear of failure. Use positive affirmations to remind yourself of your strengths and why you’re successful in your role. You can grow your self confidence. It just takes practice.

When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, counter them with positive ones. For example, if you’re thinking “I’m not good enough,” remind yourself that “I am a skilled lead generator and I can do this.”

Practice visualizing a positive outcome

Our minds are more powerful than we realize. If you keep playing failure scenarios on high rotation in your head, you will get exactly what you predominantly think about.

I would set my intention that I was going to have a good day at the “office.” I set an expectation I would generate my two qualified leads in my 4 hour shift.

I would also visualize that I only encountered nice people. This is not woo, woo stuff.

Neuroscientists talk about the Reticular Activating System (RAS) in your brain which is responsible for filtering out signals that are not important to you based on your priorities.

In effect it alerts you to what is important to you which in my case was having “chance” encounters with nice people who are also qualified prospects. I learned to be specific with what I wanted to have happen during my shift.


Developing resilience in sales is essential for success. Sales can be tough, especially if you’re an introvert. However, by having a huge “why,” using positive self-talk, visualizing a positive outcome, and finding a mentor, you can increase your resilience and overcome the fear of rejection.

Go forth and succeed, my fellow introverts!

Edited by Kendra Fortmeyer @ Sales Hacker 2022

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