Why introverts are your new business super-power.

Why introverts are your new business super-power.

I recently ran a session for Tanba members which focused on the importance of adopting an agency-wide approach to new business, with the goal of ensuring new business is everyone’s business and not just left to the new business director or senior team. I underlined the importance of empowering everyone in the agency, whatever their role or level of expertise, to be able to talk about the agency and its offering at the drop of a hat. And of course, as a trainer in communication skills, I’m a firm believer in helping everyone in the agency gain the skills to communicate with confidence, influence and authority, in any scenario.

But what if the thought of ‘selling’, or simply hearing the words ‘new business’, make you want to run a mile? What if you’d rather eat your own fingers than chat to a prospective client about the agency? What if the thought of trying to be like Billy Big Balls – the smooth, confident, extrovert new biz director – brings you out in a cold sweat? Perhaps you’ve even muttered to the senior team that as you’re clearly an introvert it’s probably best that you’re not put in front of prospects or clients “…for the good of the agency and all that.”

Many agencies are disproportionately optimised for extroverts. People who get rewarded are those who speak up in meetings, are confident communicators and don’t shudder at the thought of selling or upselling to prospects and clients. Yet research shows that between 30% and 50% of all people in the workplace are introverts. (Although it’s worth noting that while it’s always tempting to think in binaries, introversion and extroversion is of course a sliding scale. Nobody is 100% introverted or 100% extroverted; we’re all ambiverts, with introverted and extroverted tendencies.) But if up to half of your agency is made up of people with introverted tendencies, surely it makes sense to understand how best to empower, engage and reward them, without expecting them to act like extroverts?

It’s important to recognise that introverts have incredible qualities that are central to winning new business. They bring analytical thought and empathy, they’re good at forming personal connection, they are excellent listeners and observers which means they pay close attention to verbal and non-verbal communication to gain a better understanding of people or a situation, and to appreciate other people’s perspectives. Few would argue the importance of these skills for winning new business. So why doesn’t every agency tap into these new business super-powers?

If you’re not already leveraging the introverted qualities of your agency team as an integral part of your new business process, here’s how you can start:

  1. Don’t expect introverts to act like extroverts.
    • Faking it and aping another’s communication style will not only feel disingenuous but also come across as inauthentic and fake. Instead of rewarding extrovert behaviour, work hard to give introverts the tools and techniques to be their authentic selves, to leverage their strengths and then reward them accordingly.

  2. Show that you value the qualities of introversion.
    • Be clear about the central role that introverts can play in agency new business and stress the importance of those qualities in growing the agency.

  3. Clear up misconceptions.
    • Introversion is not being anti-social or being shy. Introverts tend to prefer smaller group interactions and a lower level of social stimulation than extroverts. This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be involved in agency new business. What’s more, introverts can still be assertive and confident, especially if given time to formulate their ideas.

  4. Re–frame selling.
    • As soon as we start talking about the need to “sell”, or even mention “new business”, many people clam up or run a mile. “Selling” can feel like a dirty word. Re-framing it as relationship building or business growth, or simply ‘understanding your clients’ can help.

  5. Design inclusive new business meetings.
    • By doing this you’ll create an agency where everyone can add value as their authentic self, you’ll open up more diverse opinions and ways of thinking, and you’ll ensure everyone is included and has an equal opportunity to participate in agency new business.

      In short, when it comes to new business don’t dismiss the introverts in your agency. Play to their strengths instead and empower them to get involved in all aspects of business development, but in the right way. Reinforce the message that introverts will not be expected to act like extroverts but more to leverage the powerful qualities of their introversion. Be consistently clear that these qualities are valued and important for growing the agency. Remind everyone that winning new business isn’t always about jazz hands and a flashy performance, often it’s more about harnessing those introvert super-powers for the good of all.

If you're eager to elevate your pitching, captivate your audiences, and learn new communication skills to grow and succeed, let's talk.