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Freelancing: Marketing to the introverted client

I often read on the internet how we introverted freelancers can be more effective in our marketing.

But I have never seen any suggestion that our prospects may be introverts as well.

Heaven forbid! American society has a strong bias in favor of extroversion and we simply assume that employees who have the title and budgetary access to employ us freelancers must be extroverts.

In sales, we are advised to mirror the prospect without going overboard to the point of being weird. We should attempt to mimic their energy level, loudness, posture, vocabulary, and more so they identify us as their kinds of people.

In practice, this advice is honored primarily at in-person meetings, sometimes to the point of crossing our legs when they cross theirs and leaning forward when they do the same.

However, this mirroring in the context of the phoned sales call is more challenging.

We have to start the conversation with minimal knowledge about the person we are calling, and there are almost no clues other than speech to start assessing the person’s personality.

What is an extrovert? An introvert?

These terms only minimally describe how talkative we are and whether or not we are shy.

Instead, “extrovert” and “introvert” describe primarily how we recharge our energy. Extroverts tend to recharge their energy by interacting with other people. Introverts tend to be self-charging and reinvigorate independently, either by themselves or in the company of one or two people they know well.

Extroverts are likely to develop ideas through talking out their thoughts with others; introverts are likely to think through their ideas on their own. Note that introversion and extroversion are on a continuum; no one is totally introverted or extroverted.

Actually, in creative fields such as writing and graphic design, it is quite possible that the people we are calling are introverts, just as we freelancers are quite likely to be introverted. Many of us who enter these specialties enjoy working on our own to resolve creative problems.

In other words, corporate people and the freelancers they hire are often similar in temperament.

What this means in phoning for freelance assignments

It means that a simple approach can work fine for both parties.

You don’t have to start with lots of stupid chitchat. “How are you today?” is unnecessary unless you really care. Discussions of the weather waste time.

I particularly hate answering the phone to someone who says, “What about those Bears?” Just because I am in the Chicago area doesn’t mean I care. (When I read about sports, I am much more interested in aspects of team management and coaching, but I don’t care about game statistics and team standings.)

So why not consider dialing down the dominance and instead match the possibly lower-key style of the prospects we phone? Put your toe in the conversational waters before revving up to a pushy, gabby sales style.

Originally posted 6-13-16

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