Archives for June 2013


hero's journeyPeople who sell don’t get enough credit! It’s not just another job, or even a high calling. It’s a genuine hero’s journey, and people who embark on it are inspiring.  Author, mythologist, and spiritual teacher Joseph Campbell focused much of  his work on the hero’s journey, and divided this quest into ten distinct steps.

Here are the ten steps that define the hero’s journey, according to Campbell, and my take on how sellers walk each of them:

1. Longing for adventure, seeking born of restlessness and claustrophobia. Just showing up at work and checking off to do’s is no longer enough. We want something more challenging, something that takes us out to the end of the high dive and tests our will, our skill, our commitment, and our agility.

2. Loss, letting go of the past, the old ways. Just as heroes leave the safety of their home villages when they set out on the quest, we let go of knowing that if we do “A,” then “B” will automatically happen. We no longer cling to the security of just showing up, clocking hours, and getting a paycheck. Our results depend on how well we connect with people, present our offer, listen to what they want and their concerns, and coach them to a choice that works for them. We have to be fully awake to do those things.

3. Mentor. If we’re lucky, we find someone who can tell us about the road ahead, listen when we feel discouraged, give us advice, and offer encouragement for the hero’s task before us.

4. Guardians at the gates of the unknown whom he must overcome. In myths, these might be angry animals. In selling, they might be fear of picking up the phone, not wanting to hear “no,” or person after person saying, “Yeah, maybe next year.”

5. The unknown, abyss. Just as Campbell’s heroes are often thrown into fiery chasms, we can hit a wall. Nobody wants to buy. We stop trusting ourselves and whatever Force we’ve relied on to energize ourselves. Nobody understands how hard it is, and we begin to suspect that we don’t have what it takes.

6. Faces tests and meets friends. The hero gathers allies, as Luke Skywalker did in Star Wars. We meet fellow sellers, perhaps at networking or association events, perhaps in online groups. People who are doing the same kinds of things we’re doing, who are also on a hero’s journey. We learn to help one another, and to support one another through tests like interim sales goals.

7. Decisive ordeal, confrontation with death. Well, maybe not death–but big stuff! Just as Luke Skywalker confronts Darth Vader, we may find ourselves a week away from our selling deadline, with way too few sales. We want to give up, to roll over and enroll in plumbing school. We can’t do it even one more day. But in the end, we pull ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and get out there again. We just keep going.

8. Slays the dragon, seizes the treasure, rescues the princess. We get the result! We meet our goal. And we feel like… One. Million. Bucks.

9. Challenge to use the wisdom of his heart and finds his power here.  The hero must learn to rely on his or her heart, rather than on just the will or mind. We must do that, too. Our success comes not from force of will, from pressing ourselves back out there at sword-point, but because we have rediscovered the part of ourselves that wants to serve people, and to connect with them in a way that honors, respects, and appreciates them. That connection is our life’s blood–and we keep it whether or not they buy.

10. Returns to the world with fire. The mythic hero brings back whatever prize he or she was seeking. We bring back not only the sales numbers, but also the knowledge that we can reach deep within ourselves, even in difficult moments, and bring forth our best selves in the service of others and of growing into the people we’ve always wanted to be.

Not bad for a day’s work!

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passion croppedEver find yourself in awe of someone who radiates passion for what they do, whether it’s selling, or a political or social cause, or just doing their job? I have, and I used to wonder where they got all that enthusiasm.

Then I started selling, and discovered their secret. Passion doesn’t just drop out of the sky. It doesn’t just descend randomly on a few lucky individuals. We generate it from within ourselves—even (and especially) when we don’t feel it in the moment.

We’ve all had moments when passion just appeared, without our having to create it. The enthusiasm was just there, inspired by a person, event, situation, or sunset. Spontaneous passion happens, but you can’t count on it. Spontaneous passion is great for romance, spirituality, the arts and many other aspects of life. It’s not so great for selling, though, because you can’t count on it to show up at the same time that your customers do.

The good news is that passion doesn’t have to be spontaneous. It can also be intentional. You can call on it at will, at the exact times you want it. You don’t need luck, karma, or lightning striking in just the right place. You don’t have to sit around waiting for it. You can bring it to any situation, whenever you want to do so.

New sellers sometimes say, “I just don’t feel inspired today.” You never have to use those words again. In fact, it’s part of the Soul of Selling not to say those words—but rather, to reach down and find the sparkle. Find the inspiration and the passion.

Here are a few questions that may help. If you answer them now, before the doldrums hit, you can come back and use your answers to find your passion and model it for others:

  • What do I love about what I’m offering people?
  • What do I love or value about the selling process?
  • What do I enjoy about the people with whom I interact?
  • What qualities do I want to bring to all my interactions today?
  • What do I want to feel at the end of the day?

These questions are all part of The Soul of Selling Step #2: Pinpoint Your Passions. The exercises in this part of The Soul of Selling take you systematically through re-discovering and living the inspiration that brought you to selling in the first place.

That passion may have started with the product or service you offer, with your love of people, with your willingness to undertake the hero’s journey of selling itself, or with simply wanting to serve others. Regardless, we are all well served—and happier and better sellers—when we have that passion at our fingertips.

What do you do to access intentional passion?

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“Selling Baggage” in the Grand Canyon

Grand CanyonYears ago I hiked down and up the Grand Canyon with five other women carrying a 40-pound backpack. Some people don’t think a one-night stay at the bottom of the Canyon warrants a forty pounds of gear, and others don’t think a hair dryer is an essential component of that gear—but at the time, I did.

Along the trail, we encountered several park employees who worked at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Canyon for two- or three-day stretches, and who hiked to work carrying only small fanny packs. As I watched them fly past us, waving in a particularly carefree way, I thought, “I wonder what it would be like to do this hike without forty pounds on my back.”

That is the essential issue of Soul of Selling Step #1: Put down your baggage and fix what you can.

Selling is a hero’s journey. You are serving others, managing your own mental chatter, and balancing a selling conversation that includes many elements: telling people about what you offer, eliciting what value they want to get from it, hearing their concerns without buying those considerations, closing the sale, and staying connected with people—whether or not they buy.

That’s quite enough to have on your plate, without adding mental or emotional baggage about selling, thoughts like:

  • I just don’t have the hard core to takes to sell.
  • People are too cheap to buy my high-end service.
  • With the economy like this, nobody can afford this.
  • Selling is hard, and I’m tired.
  • Selling is a crap shoot; I should have studied auto mechanics.
  • I’ll never make any money unless I manipulate and bully people.

I think it’s smarter to carry a 40-pound pack down and up the Grand Canyon than it is to go out selling with this kind of negative chatter going on—and there’s really no reason to do either!

Exercises in The Soul of Selling take you systematically through the process of putting down that 40-pound pack, and letting you fly down the Selling Grand Canyon with ease and grace. Among the questions we pose in Step #1 are:

  1. Write down all your negative mental chatter about selling in general, yourself as a seller, the product or service you offer, and the people with whom you will make contact.
  2. Is there any truth to any of this mental chatter?
  3. If there is something you can do to correct a situation that is bothering you, make a list of those “to dos” and do them.

“No pain, no gain” does not apply to selling. In fact, the more you can put yourself out of “40-pound backpack misery,” the more you will enjoy selling and the better your results will be.

What do you do to lighten your backpack?



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Your Sales Oil Change

oil canYou’ve finally put to rest all the negative mental chatter about sales. You rest on a Nirvanic cloud of peace, wisdom, unconditional acceptance, deep internal silence, and universal love about selling. Until all of a sudden—and out of nowhere!—those niggling little voices start up again. A whisper at first, but quickly swelling into a chorus of:

  • Hey, who do you think you are? You can’t just think good thoughts and enjoy selling!
  • Yeah right! Like you’re never gonna  get stuck in the selling quagmire again and not want to pick up the phone.

Uh oh. Time for the Sunnybee Solution…

My first car was a yellow VW convertible, which I named “Sunnybee.” It ran fine for quite a while, but then it developed some odd noises and a clunky feel when I drove it. I called my brother, who knows everything about cars, and described the symptoms.  After a terrible moment of silence, he asked, “When was the last time you changed the oil?” I paused, puzzled.

“I think it came with oil,” I said slowly. It came with a steering wheel. It came with oil. Nobody ever said I had to change either of them. My friends and I never talked about cars. It was never discussed in our family. Our father had trouble changing light bulbs and we weren’t really sure he knew how to fill the gas tank. Whenever something went wrong with our cars, they were simply sent “to the garage” and the less said, the better.

My brother gave me a chilling description of what happens to car engines when you don’t change their oil regularly, and promised to remind me to do so in the future.  I thought to myself, “This is just like handling selling baggage. You’ve got to keep current with it.”

I didn’t like changing the oil in my car. It was expensive and time-consuming. I don’t like doing the dishes every day. I did them yesterday, for God’s sake! Same with taking out the garbage. What keeps me going with these tasks are the consequences of not doing them.  For me, the solution is a weekly “selling oil inventory,” doing the Soul of Selling exercises for Step #1, Put down you’re your baggage and fix what you can.” These include answering questions like:

  • What are the voices in my head saying about selling?
  • Is any of this true?
  • If it’s true, can I fix it?
  • If it’s not true, can I let go of it?

When you keep your oil changed, you can fly down the selling freeway with the top down and a smile on your face.

What do you do to remember your selling oil change?

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