Sales Tips for Shy People

Laura Spencer

Well-known member
You’ve probably all heard of the proverbial natural salesperson. You know the one I’m talking about–the one who can sell anything to anyone at any time?

Well, that person is not me. In fact, I’ve blogged about being a bit shy before.

But, as a freelancer, I frequently find myself in situations where I must sell my services. Selling is just part of doing business.

So, I’ve learned to cope with my natural shyness. Over the years, I’ve developed some techniques to help myself.

If you’re a freelancer who is naturally shy like me, here are some tips to help you become better at sales.

Sales Tips for Shy People​

Every freelancer has a weakness. For some freelancers it’s dealing with numbers. For others, it’s putting their thoughts in writing. For me, it’s selling.

However, just because you have a weakness in a particular area doesn’t mean that weakness can’t be overcome and it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be a freelancer.

As someone whose natural tendency is to be a bit shy, selling can make me a bit anxious. However, I’ve learned to (mostly) overcome my shy tendencies by following the principles below. It may be that they can help you as well.

Here are some tips to follow when talking with prospective clients:
  1. Avoid being unnecessarily apologetic. Many of us who are naturally shy tend to be too apologetic. Yet, unless you’ve actually done something where an apology is warranted, there’s really no need to be apologetic. If this is your tendency, try to watch for it and eliminate it from your speech patterns.
  2. Do prepare for sales calls. Natural sales people may be able to sell without much preparation, but if you’re shy you’ll need to make sure that you’re well prepared for each and every sales call. I usually keep some detailed notes beside me while I talk on the phone so that I can glance at them if I get tongue-tied during a call.
  3. Be prompt when you reply to prospects. Promptness counts for a lot. When you reply promptly to a prospect, it usually comes across as being enthusiastic. This doesn’t mean you have to accept rush work. A reply could be to simply let them know that you’ll set up a time to get with them as soon as you become available.
  4. Let them do most of the talking. It will take a lot of the pressure off you and besides, being a good listener is more important in sales than being a good talker. Just make sure that you pay attention to what they are saying and take careful notes. If necessary, repeat a point that you don’t understand back to them.
  5. Be yourself. Whatever you do, don’t try to project an image that doesn’t fit you. Instead, talk to the prospect as naturally as possible. I know that sometimes shy people try to emulate someone else who they believe to be more successful, but usually this strategy just comes off as being contrived and fake. Don’t do it!
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You may be afraid that asking questions will make you seem less knowledgeable. Actually, the opposite is true. Asking appropriate questions when you need to shows that you are concerned with the project and with getting it right. And who doesn’t want a detail-oriented conscientious freelancer working on their project?
  7. Smile while you are talking. This is a great trick that I read from a blog post somewhere. Having a smile on your face can help get rid of any anxious tones that you may unconsciously be using. Smiling also helps you sound more relaxed and pleasant to the prospect on the other end of the phone line.
  8. Avoid negative self-talk. Before the sales call begins, avoid thinking about the worst things that might happen during the call. Likewise, when the sales call is over, avoid beating yourself up over what you think went wrong with the call. Chances are your clients didn’t even notice your perceived shortcomings.

Your Turn​

I’m proud of the progress that I’ve made in this area. I’m definitely much better at handling sales calls now than I was when I started freelancing.

Are you naturally shy? Do you dread selling?
I’m naturally a shy person. I definitely have to make more of an effort than other people. I do some of the things you mentioned, like smile and ask questions. I’ll definitely have to try the other ones. Thanks!
Funnily enough with No 7. You’re always taught to smile on the phone when you work in a call centre, people can tell if you’re “smiling” down the phone. Your voice sounds lighter and more energetic.

I’m terrible at selling myself.