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How can a shy, introverted entrepreneur create clients and leads?

I facilitate group processes and consult with executives in the matters of authentic relating and creating win-win solutions.

I am 100% behind my work, its process, its effectiveness, and its relevance.

And I am challenged by meeting new people and creating leads and clients.

What are the solutions? A sales-oriented co-founder? Work with a business coach?

28 Replies

Adam Arthur
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Adam Arthur Entrepreneur
Atom Creative Corp, DevShare and infoATM
Hi Cindy, The answer is: yes, you absolutely can. I'm assuming that your introvertedness isn't to the level of a personality disorder. If it is, then it may present a problem. But if you're just naturally shy, but otherwise normal, don't think for a moment this will be a show-stopper for you. That said, I'm a big believer in honest, non-destructive self-criticism. A business coach might help, but it sounds like what you need is to establish and develop a B2B sales and marketing strategy. A lot of people who haven't done sales before can be a little mystified by it. But the process is fairly straightforward, tedious, but straightforward: a. Using cold data, (lead list purchases, Linked-in scraping, etc) initiate contact with prospective clients that fit your customer profile. b. When you finally find someone who is interested in your product or service, set an appointment to pitch it. Be prepared to submit a proposal. c. Don't "sell" your service -- just present what you do honestly and focus on how your service can benefit the prospective client. It sounds like you are struggling with generating qualified leads. There are quite a few methods of generating quality leads, but it can take a substantial amount of effort and time to find a strategy that works for your particular business. Having done B2B sales, and having to penetrate large 1000+ employee organizations, just finding someone who has the authority to make a buying decision can be difficult. But honestly, the difficult part is the initial discovery process in finding a strategy that works for you. It's going to take a lot of sweat equity and trying different things. I'm actually helping a friend of mine, who is just starting a tax services business, go through this process and I'd be happy to help you via e-mail (for free, not looking to sell a service here) if you think that might be helpful. I've built a number of businesses over the years and, through necessity as opposed to desire, I've gotten somewhat good at B2B sales strategies.
Anthony Vard
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Anthony Vard Entrepreneur
Founder 'Knickers.Com'​ ​; 'Gigs'​ & 'Gags'​ Collections 1996 - 2016 @ 'eNameOLOGY.Com'​ - Art & Science of Names
Most important, have a very very good idea :)
Tom Lemmons
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Tom Lemmons Entrepreneur
Founder - Nimbus, Ltd
I would like to know the answer to this question myself.
Logan Kleier
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Logan Kleier Entrepreneur
Founder/CEO at SecondSight. We tame application sprawl with simple, actionable SaaS application usage data.
If you have a great idea that you believe in, focus on how that idea will help other people.

I'm not shy, but I'm not a long time sales person. So, I helped myself by realizing that sales and business development was only a means to an end. I learned to do whatever it took to get people to know about what my company was doing because I truly believed that my company was making their lives better.

Once I saw things in that light, I started reaching out to my network and asking them for intros to people who have more developed BD/sales skills than me. I was surprised to see just how helpful my network was in introducing those people to me.
Cindy Riach
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Cindy Riach Advisor
Founder | Facilitator ► Founders Connect
@Adam - I'm not diagnosed with a personality disorder, but I do feel like I live in a world where my shyness is a disadvantage! I would love to understand your sales and marketing strategy and will reach out out to you.

@Tom & @Anthony - Thanks for the support. :)

@Logan - I understand what it means to reach out to my network... and I am still unbearably shy about that! I think there are some limiting beliefs that I'm carrying about myself that are getting in the way.
Rob Gropper
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Rob Gropper Entrepreneur
Director at PetHero, SPC - Member at Eastside Incubator - Principal at Tuxedo Technologies Group
Cindy, are your ideal prospects small, medium or large companies?
Rob Gropper
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Rob Gropper Entrepreneur
Director at PetHero, SPC - Member at Eastside Incubator - Principal at Tuxedo Technologies Group
Cindy, are your ideal prospects small, medium or large companies?
Gopi Mattel
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Gopi Mattel Advisor
Director, Chennai Area at The Founder Institute
I sympathize. I see some of the startups where the founder has a distinct disadvantage due to the shyness. Some of them seem to do better with non-face-to-face or non-verbal communication. Such as email and text. I would encourage that.
If there is a budget, a virtual assistant could be your proxy and handle some of the early communication at least until you get to a sense of comfort with the other person.
A co-founder who is more out-going will be important. Unfortunately even investors judge based on 'passion', which a lot of times translates to ability to talk up a storm in new situations.
Jim Bowes
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Jim Bowes Advisor
Promoting and producing sustainable natural-media techniques
Being an entrepreneur means we are expected to do everything ourselves.
That seems foolish to me. Stick to your strengths and find an extrovert to balance your team. Spend your precious time doing what you are good out.
Your shyness can work in your favour in some situations.
Of course you can try to change your character but do you need to?
A strength is knowing your weakness.
Michael Barnathan
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Michael Barnathan Entrepreneur • Advisor
Co-Founder of The Mountaintop Program, Google Alum
Do it until you find someone who's natural at it, then do it with that person in the driver's seat. Introvert that I am, I ended up fairly good at it with plenty of practice - but one of my cofounders is simply naturally gifted at this, so I usually let him lead those meetings.
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