About Dear Abel and Sofi: This Alignable column gives our small business owners an outlet to anonymously share the kinds of frustrations, fears and private struggles few people express openly. Father-daughter duo Abel and Sofi co-author the column, bringing diverse perspectives to both professional and personal problems. A serial entrepreneur and counselor, Abel, 65, is known for his empathy and his uncanny understanding of many issues. Co-owner of a salon, Sofi, 28, has a younger, more candid approach to life’s challenges. Beyond appearing on Alignable’s Q&A Forum, now this column in syndicated in outlets including the Focus Newspaper in NC and The Yankee Xpress in MA. To submit your anonymous questions to Abel and Sofi, please click here.
Dear Abel & Sofi,
Help! I’m an introvert in an outside sales world.
I was having some issues in a corporate setting, so I moved to a much smaller company. I was let go after 9 months. Then I applied to many places and didn’t get any interviews after 6 months.
I took a long, hard look at my life, my health, and my “9-5” world. And I took the giant leap of faith to go out on my own as an Independent Consultant. It’s gone nowhere, so I’m trying to make it work for a company doing business-to-business sales (straight commission) until one or the other takes off.
Cold calling is scary, walking into businesses is downright terrifying. I’m trying to make connections with people, but it takes me a long time to work up the courage to even make small talk.
Did I make a mistake? I’m not sure how much longer my finances can last. Any advice?
— Terrified Introvert In Sales
Dear Terrified, the good news is that introverts are finally getting some of the recognition they so richly deserve. I’ve seen more Top Ten tips articles to help introverts succeed in business over the past year than I’ve seen over the last 40 years combined.
Beyond that, many companies now embrace the idea of having different personality types in one place, as it boosts productivity and morale. I’ve even seen some companies offer special programs to let introverts shine. So there’s a lot that’s great about having an introverted personality these days.
At the same time, being an introvert in a commission-based sales role could be a living nightmare. I hate to be so blunt, but I’m not sure why you’d want to prolong the agony?
I’m sure you’re a very talented and bright person and I think it’s time for you to look into jobs and careers perfect for introverts. You can google “the best jobs for introverts” and find many suggestions. Also, you should read the 2019 version of What Color Is Your Parachute? for extra guidance.
Considering that we have 3 million members (and counting), I’m sure there are countless introverts in our Alignable network who can suggest different options for you. Someone reading this post could even have a job offer for you!
Best of luck with your Second Act. I’m confident that it will be better than the First Act has been. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us.
All my best, Abel
Hi Terrified, I think you need to pick a path. You’re trying to establish a consulting business while simultaneously growing outside sales for someone else’s business. You’re focusing on too many things at once, which means that neither career path is getting enough attention. Sure, plenty of people have a side hustle for extra income, but they typically only do this once they have a solid, full-time job or entrepreneurial venture.
At this point, it would help to identify what you’re most passionate about. Has it always been your dream to be in B2B Sales? Or is there another career calling your name?
As an introvert who’s afraid to cold call, it doesn’t seem like sales is a good fit. If you’re naturally quiet, perhaps you could get a job as a bookkeeper. No matter what path you choose, you’ll need to work on becoming more self-assured. I think what’s really getting in your way is a lack of confidence. You’ve had a tough few years career-wise and you’re stuck in a rut.
While it doesn’t seem like your personality is a good fit for outside sales, you might be able to turn your cold calling into a positive learning experience until you move on. Pretend you’re the life of the party and can talk to anyone. This will help you find your voice, which can be applied to any profession. That way, your more confident side can tackle your next job head-on.
Go get ‘em, Sofi
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