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Sales tips for Introverts
I grew up in Patna in the 80s and 90s. I was shy by nature and books were my friends.
When it was time to decide upon a career, I did not want the time bound promotions of a government job. In those days, mostly everyone wanted this security.
I did not want to be an engineer either and work with machines. So I opted to study management and did an MBA.
2000 Kilometres away, I came to Goa to do my MBA. More than the studies, the exposure did me wonders.
I learnt to relate to people from different backgrounds and social strata. I made varied friends. I learnt life is more than books and syllabus.
It was the time of the 1st IT boom in India. Everyone in my batch was going for software jobs. I however, opted for sales. It is a different matter that my friends from back home were rather surprised that I could do sales. To them, I was so shy - not a sales thing!
The Internet was just opening up. I consciously chose work in the Telecom/Internet Sector.
My role involved B-to-B sales, selling VPNs, bandwidth and cisco routers. I embraced their complexity. I moved to selling solutions, while many batch-mates continued to focus on traditional product and channel sales.
In about 4 ½ years, I rose to become a key accounts manager.
There is a part of me that is ever restless and continues to look ahead. I was on a steady career path, but I wanted to do something different, something more. Maybe something to do with people.
I had already realised that you don’t have to be an extrovert, to enjoy working with people. Just how you relate to them, interact with them, is a little different when you are an introvert.
Through a friend, I met the founders of TeamLease. It was a year old startup, doing staffing for temps. Something completely new in India, at that time. They were looking to expand to Chennai and wanted someone to set it up from scratch over there.
I took it up and relocated to Chennai. New town, new people. I loved it.
I was in the driving seat. I learnt a lot as I set things up. A whole new world of HR solutions selling now lay ahead of me.
Seeking out new experiences and learning from them has always worked for me. I also read a fair amount and keep myself abreast of things beyond my work.
This has differentiated me from the run of the mill, extrovert sales guy. Probably this is also the reason I am better at selling complex solutions rather than simple goodies.
I have stayed in the HR domain ever since. I moved to Mumbai and did HR sales solutions for a few more years, besides managing more people and branch responsibilities.
By 2010, I wanted to specialise further into training and talent development. So I moved to another company and continued to sell training solutions to large customers in India.
Awards and recognitions came along regularly for our sales performance. I did this for 9 years, till just before Covid.
Today, I am part of a startup that is rewriting how the blue collar workforce engages in the workplace by becoming proficient through Digital Learning.
I continue to learn and develop myself, hopefully staying a step ahead on the rapid pace of changes in how we work.
I have consciously steered my sales career to places where learning and insights matter, besides making efforts to reach out. LinkedIn is an example.
In my sales career, I have found that being an introvert has actually helped. I listen well, giving undivided attention to whoever I am with. Thus, I connect better.
I value authenticity. It is also my gift to those around me.
People see me as someone they can trust. I grew up seeing my professor father walk the honesty talk. I heard stories of my freedom fighter grandfather and was inspired by them.
More than once I have been told, ‘We gave you the business, because we felt we could trust you’.
My lessons -
Be Authentic in whatever you do ,it always pays in the long run
Embrace change instead of fighting it
Invite new experience. You never know what you can learn from it
Accept yourself for what you are. We are all unique in our own ways. Use your strengths.