“Read any good books lately?” is not a question I am often asked by our director of client services and inbound marketing extrovert-in-chief Max Traylor, so I was happily surprised to see in his latest post on our Innovative Marketer’s Blog that we share an interest in the work of author Susan Cain on introverted and extroverted personality types. I'm currently in the midst of reading Cain’s non-fiction book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking,” not so much for its application to marketing as its application to my own life as an out-and-proud introvert.
In his post, Max observes that introverts and extroverts will naturally behave differently at the bottom of the sales funnel. This is an important point, and I believe it is one that should take its place among those at core of the inbound marketing philosophy. One of the things that attracted me to inbound marketing in the first place is that it takes into account the reluctance of introverted people to make personal contact without first having done their research. I wrote this post because I wanted to add my insider’s perspective as an introvert to Max’s thoughts. The following observations are taken from my own life as well as my reading of Cain’s book.
1. Introverts Are People Too—and They Buy Stuff
As Cain discusses, the world—and the business world specifically—tends to be biased towards extroverts. Up to 50 percent of Americans are introverts, according to Cain. You may not realize this because so many of us “fake” being extroverted in an attempt to fit in with a culture that values gregariousness and risk-taking over thoughtfulness and caution.
When inbound marketing clients push for a simple “contact us” at the bottom of their funnel over a more valuable offer, it could be because that is how they, as extroverts, would prefer to interact with customers. They are not thinking about how introverted potential customers would like to interact with them. Marketers should be prepared to educate their clients on how they could be missing out on the opportunity to reach up to twice as many more prospective customers by building introvert-friendly elements into their sales funnel.
2. Introverts Are Not Afraid—They Just Want Space to Think
I don't think introverts are “terrified of picking up the phone,” as Max theorizes. One thing Cain points out is that introversion is not necessarily the same as shyness. I am not afraid of picking up the phone, but I do understand that I do my best work when I have the time and space to think and plan before I form my responses. Phone conversations or face-to-face conversations are not conducive to that. Certain canny salespeople know this and exploit it—either instinctually or deliberately—to fluster and dominate introverted people in sales situations.
For this reason, introverted people avoid salespeople like the plague. When I am browsing a store and a salesperson asks me, “Can I help you?” I almost always say “No,” even if I do need more information before making a purchase. I would much rather search for information on my smartphone right there in the store than talk to a salesperson. So, in this sense, I think Max is right on target when he speculates that introverts “do more research online by themselves before speaking with potential providers.”
3. Sorry, Salespeople. It’s Not You; It's Us
Max suggests that introverts convert more frequently on high-value bottom-of-the-funnel offers because they see enough value in them to overcome their fear of phoning. I think there is some truth in that, but I would like to suggest an alternate theory. High-value bottom-of-the-funnel offers are often more structured than “contact us” or “free consultation” offers. I think it is possible that introverts preferred the “assessment and roadmap” offer that Max tested with his clients because they felt it would be a more structured environment than a freewheeling consultation call, which they (perhaps rightly) suspected was code for a sales call.
Remember, introverts avoid talking with salespeople whenever possible because they feel that they do not thrive in that environment. In a business-to-business interaction, the introverted prospective customer wants to demonstrate his value to his employer. He will avoid a sales call because he knows he will not be able to use his natural skills of thoughtfulness and careful consideration, and therefore would risk making a bad decision, which could cost his company a significant amount of money. An assessment and roadmap, however, at least appears to hold the promise of a structured interaction. The introverted prospective customer feels that he will be asked specific, pre-determined questions and be given the opportunity to think about his answers. The roadmap—the most "salesly" element of the interaction—will not be delivered until the end of the conversation, or perhaps in a follow-up even later, and it will come in the form of a written document, which the introverted prospective customer can then read and think about at his own pace before making a purchasing decision.
I would be very interested to see if it is possible to create a bottom-of-the-funnel offer that requires no face-to-face or phone interaction whatsoever. At Innovative Marketing Resources, before we get on the phone with them, we offer our potential clients the opportunity to answer a series of online questions about their businesses, and we use their answers to generate a Content Marketer’s Blueprint—a complete content marketing strategy created without a single phone conversation. This is similar to Max’s assessment and roadmap example, except the assessment phase is completed entirely online, an environment that I would consider very introvert-friendly. Follow this link to see how it works.
Matthew Cook is the content manager for Innovative Marketing Resources. As an introvert, he would much prefer you email him at firstname.lastname@example.org than call him.