The most sought-after people in business today want more than just money and status. They want a greater sense of purpose and meaning in their work. They want to look in the mirror at the end of the day and know that they have made other people’s lives better, that they have lived in alignment with their personal values, and that they have fed their souls. For people in sales, these needs show up in Technicolor. They must produce results, but very few are satisﬁed with doing only that.
The old sales models don’t always allow them to combine high results with personal values. Increasingly, they are turning away from anything that smacks of manipulation, pressure, or lack of respect. They want to be top producers, but they need a sales model that gives them great results and connection with personal meaning and purpose.
The Soul of Selling is this new paradigm. It offers a road map through the new landscape of high performance combined with “soul-fullness.” It is a handbook for the new breed of selling stars. These people get powerful results, but they also follow their own moral compass. They bring their own values to selling, and create meaning in their work beyond the numbers they post.
The six steps of the Soul of Selling method guarantee results, but they also guarantee that each potential client or customer is treated with respect and appreciation—whether or not they buy. This method brings soul to the powerful, and power to the already “soul-full.” People in large, performance-driven organizations get a way to bring forth their own natural integrity and authentic passion. People and organizations already focusing on values and contribution enhance their capacity to produce extraordinary results with honor and ease.
The Soul of Selling works equally well for people involved in large corporate ventures, individual professional practices, community service campaigns or organizations, fundraising, multi-level marketing and any venture that asks people to get on board with a product, service, project or vision.
Carol Costello embodies this combination of high performance and personal values. She has put three companies on the map during her thirty-year career in sales, and developed the Soul of Selling method out of her own desire to produce powerful results, while at the same time sustaining and nurturing her soul. She has taught this approach for the last ten years to groups that included top sellers, professional practitioners and soccer moms newly appointed to chair the bake sale.
She knows what it means to take a stand for a result or cause, and to bring that vision into reality with integrity, passion and ease. And she has a track record for inspiring others to do the same. The Soul of Selling can change your life. It can give you the power to bring your own vision to life and make it real, and it can show you how to get those results in a way that feeds your soul.
— Murray Thompson, Ph.D., Consultant to Fortune 100 companies
I began my sales career at an organization that lived and breathed big numbers. They wanted huge results, right now. They didn’t care if you liked it, if you burned out, or if you operated with integrity. The numbers came first, at any cost. If you didn’t deliver, you were toast.
I was a sponge, and learned everything I could from them. Then, driving to work one morning, a booming voice in my head asked, “Is life worth living this way?” The answer was No, and I gave notice that afternoon.
I left there exhausted and somewhat shaken, but with an inexplicable urge to keep selling. I had seen the power of it. I had seen what it was to have a big idea, and then bring that idea into reality so that it made an impact on the world. I had learned what it was like to choose your results, rather than to wait and see what happened. That was irresistible. But how to do that, and remain sane? How to do that, and be a good person? How to do that, and not only save my soul, but feed it?
I thought the answer might be selling a different product. So I took what I’d learned at the “boot camp selling” company and joined another company that I believed would make a positive contribution to the world. It did, and I produced numbers that made it a successful global venture. But not without breaking a few arms and legs—the customers’ and my own.
This taught me that it’s not necessarily what you sell that feeds your soul, but how you sell it.
I knew how to get great sales results. Now I wanted to combine those great results with honoring and contributing to the people to whom I sold, as well as with my own personal growth and well-being.
Most people assured me that these three things—big results, honoring sales contacts, and feeding my soul—couldn’t go together. You might get two of them, but you couldn’t have all three. (The most likely combination was honoring contacts and feeding the soul, but they assured me that I could forget about results with those two in play.) But I knew it was possible to be extraordinarily successful in sales, and at the same time honor myself and other people. I didn’t know exactly how that worked, but I knew the answer was out there somewhere.
Over the next several years, I was the first Director of Sales at two more start-ups that are still thriving today. In that time, I stepped into more potholes than you can imagine. My advantage was being willing to crawl out of each pothole, dust myself off, learn something and keep going.
Gradually, with the help of hundreds of people, I developed a new way to sell. This new method yielded the same big numbers, but it also fed my soul. It gave selling meaning, purpose and inspiration. It gave me a way to thrive, as well as to succeed.
I call this method the Soul of Selling. It has been the making of me, and of many other people who wanted to feed their souls, contribute to others and make an impact on their world. They have used it to launch products, put their business on the map, work in communities and promote large visions like peace and human rights. We all want the capacity to make our visions real, to make our projects fruitful, and to make our products or services successful.
When you can “sell” with soul, you can be profoundly effective, and at the same time enjoy and build your personal values, self-esteem and sense of fulﬁllment. That is what I wish for you, and that is the purpose of this book.
In the Soul of Selling seminar, I try to bring everything I’ve learned in thirty years—all the pothole-stepping, as well as the rich, melt-in-your-soul lessons—into one day. We make good progress, but this book gives you more time to digest the material and make it your own. That’s how it’s designed to work. Take what you like from here, make it your own, shape it to ﬁt your situation and have a ball!
P.S. Let me know how The Soul of Selling is working for you. Send your feedback and join my community at The Soul of Selling.
Chapter 1. The Magic Bullet: Why the Soul of Selling Works—Every Time
What if you could guarantee the exact sales results you wanted, every time? What if you also knew that you were acting with integrity, that you were honoring and appreciating each person with whom you spoke—whether or not they bought? And what if, on top of that, you got genuine pleasure from selling, and even began to relax into doing it with ease?
The Soul of Selling offers you exactly that. You get extraordinary results, and thrive because you are feeding your soul with personal values, higher purpose and a meaningful contribution. You are being good, and doing well.
This is the “magic bullet” everyone wants. You get people on board with your product, service, project or vision, while still growing into the person you’ve always wanted to be.
The Soul of Selling is a new paradigm for sales. It invites you to shift how you see “selling,” to think of it not as pushing, manipulating, conning, or pressuring—but as a way of contributing to life and feeding your soul. You take a stand for something that you ﬁnd valuable, and serve others by offering it to them in a respectful, honoring way.
When you see selling as service, you are free to go all out. You can bring yourself 100% to the task, and that makes everything easier and more fun.
The six steps of the Soul of Selling guide you through this process, so that you sell with mastery, grace and the results of your choice. Your inspiration comes from within, from your own core values, and so you can renew it, reignite it, or realign it at will. You act with integrity, out of your own natural capacity to inspire.
You can ﬁnally be yourself, get great results, and feel good about how you get them. You do not have to be a natural seller, or an experienced seller, to succeed with this method. Selling is an acquired skill.
I am not a natural seller. I developed the Soul of Selling out of my own desire to make the things that I loved available to more people, and at the same time to succeed in the world, act with integrity and feed my soul. All you have to do to succeed with this method is follow the six steps.
Whatever your dreams, your visions, or your goals, the Soul of Selling will help you step up to the plate and make them a reality.
THE FOURFOLD GUARANTEE
The Soul of Selling offers you a Fourfold Guarantee for Results, Integrity, Passion and Ease. When you can make that guarantee, selling is sweet. (And R-I-P-E!) You take the guesswork out of results, and the stress out of selling.
Each time you begin a selling project, you know that you can guarantee:
1. Results. You get precisely the sales numbers you choose, every time.
2. Integrity. Everyone you contact is respected, appreciated and honored—whether or not they buy. You can trust yourself never to con, bully, or otherwise manipulate your customers, your product or service, or yourself.
3. Passion. You ﬁnd a new energy based on what you truly value. Your unique brand of enthusiasm comes to the surface, and makes selling fun.
4. Ease. You can relax. You don’t have to second-guess yourself, your methods, or your motives. You can just follow the six steps, be yourself and enjoy both the process and the outcome.
The Fourfold Guarantee works for professional salespeople, entrepreneurs, ﬁrst-time sellers, small business owners, bake sale chairs, fundraisers, multi-level marketers, community leaders, individuals with professional practices and anyone else who wants to inspire others to support their product, service, project, or vision.
WHY IS IT “THE SOUL OF SELLING”?
“Soul” is the part of us that craves higher purpose, authentic relationships and meaningful contribution. Webster’s calls it “the seat of real life or vitality; the source of action; the animating or essential part; the moving spirit, the heart.”
“Selling” is simply offering your product or vision in such a clear and inviting way that people see value in it for themselves and come on board. Selling might mean offering a computer or insurance plan in the marketplace. It might mean lining up people for a car wash on Saturday, or collecting money for the kids’ baseball uniforms, or inviting people to join a book group. It might mean inspiring people to be part of a program to end hunger in the world, or to support world peace.
The Soul of Selling is based on three principles:
1. We all want to have a positive impact on our world. You might want to be the top software salesperson in your company, or help win an election, or spearhead an environmental cause. When you know how to “sell” these things in a way that gets results every time, you have the power to change your world.
2. We all want to nourish our souls. We want to be good people who act with integrity and contribute to others. We want to feel good about who we are and what we do.
3. We don’t have to choose between these two desires. We can combine doing well and feeling good. Being a “go to” person who gets results does not mean you can’t also be a good person who supports others. And being a good person does not mean you can’t have a powerful impact on the world. In fact, a person of compassion, purpose and vision can do far more good if he or she also has the power to make things happen. A person who already has the power to make things happen will last longer and stay happier when he or she brings heart, soul and meaning to those results.
Our cultural and corporate values are shifting toward “soul.” For those of us who sell, this means combining big results with self-esteem, higher purpose, growth, contribution and authentic personal values. It means ﬁnding a way to be successful, satisﬁed and congruent—a way to honor both ourselves and others, even as we put our product, service, or vision on the map.
The Soul of Selling gives the quest for the bottom line a moral compass, and shows us how to navigate the new landscape where results and values not only can meet, but also must meet.
The six steps are your handrails. They guide you down the path to becoming an amalgam of strength and contribution, of capacity and compassion, of steady will and generosity of spirit. They call forth your ability to produce extraordinary results, and to do so with meaning, integrity and ease. They foster genuine enthusiasm for sharing what you ﬁnd valuable, and ask you to be the source of respectful, empowering relationships.
They show you how to honor your core values, see your lessons, make gracious course corrections, take a stand for your visions and still get extraordinary sales results. You have the tools to be a force of nature—a force for good.
A SIMPLE, ELEGANT ANSWER
I grappled with how to sell big without selling out for twenty-ﬁve years, while acting as Director of Sales for three start-up companies that are still thriving today. I stepped into every pothole out there, climbed out, dusted myself off and ﬁgured out what I could have done to avoid the problem.
Finally, I had a map of where the potholes were. I found a way to sell exactly what I promised, and also to know in my bones that everyone I contacted was better off than they had been before we talked. I learned how to inspire myself, and how to keep that inspiration fresh and authentic. I could ﬁnally relax and enjoy some peace and ease in selling, as well as great results.
I could take pride in what I did, and how I did it. I could enjoy the fruits of being a big seller, and at the same time let it shape me into the person I’d always wanted to be. For a secretly shy person who wanted both to contribute and to succeed in the world, this was heaven.
I saw that selling could be a high calling. It takes courage, grit and a spark that we want to share with others. People who sell deserve all the support and encouragement they can get. I wanted to be on their team. I broke down what I was doing into the six steps of the Soul of Selling, and started telling people about it. Soon I was teaching a seminar on this approach for people ranging from top professionals who sold millions of dollars’ worth of products or services a year, to people who had just taken charge of their ﬁrst church garage sale.
Experienced professionals and rank amateurs, corporate big shots and ﬂedgling solo practitioners, people who sold products and those who sold services all reported the same outcomes:
1. Whatever their results had been, they got better. They sold more, in less time, with less effort.
2. They enjoyed selling more, and did it with more ease—avoiding burnout and turnover.
3. They took greater pride in what they did, because selling became service.
4. They had a technology that let them repeat their success, and kept them thriving.
WE’RE A SELLING SPECIES
Most of us sell every day of our lives—whether or not we know it, and whether or not we call our job “sales.”
We can’t help ourselves. When we human beings ﬁnd something that is fun or valuable, we can’t keep our mouths shut. We want to share it with the world, or at least a few friends. We want to scoop people up and get them on board, whether it’s asking them to “buy” into a: widget, a professional service, a multi-million-dollar contract, a Friday night dinner party, an insurance policy, a worthy cause, a class or seminar, better results on a customer service team, a real estate consortium, or a local park cleanup.
When you know how to make these invitations with grace and mastery, life is easier and more pleasant. When you also know how to get the results you want, life is more rewarding.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re motivated by love, power, generosity, proﬁt, altruism, or any combination of the above. It’s great to be comfortable with offering people something you’ve found valuable—and conﬁdent that you can talk about it in such a clear and inviting way that they see a piece of it for themselves and get on board.
THE RUBBER AND THE ROAD
Life will always hand us opportunities to “sell.” The only questions are:
1. Will we have fun, or get cranky?
2. Will we contribute, or waste energy complaining that selling is difﬁcult and demeaning?
3. Will we succeed, or will we fail?
This is where the rubber hits the road. At some point, we have to bring the conversation around to results, to speciﬁc outcomes and numbers. How much did you actually make in commissions last year? Did you, or did you not, get the contract? How many new clients did you bring in last month, and is that enough to pay the bills? Are people coming to the dinner party, or will we be going out for fried chicken? Will we build the new church, or not? Will what you’re selling in multi-level marketing allow you to quit your job, or do you need to sell more? Exactly how much more?
In my sales seminars, this is the point where everybody’s stomach tightens up. Their eyes narrow, their faces freeze, and I can see the balloons forming above their heads: Sleazy! Manipulative! Why risk being rejected, or failing? Besides, pressuring people is wrong! That’s why I don’t get the numbers. Good people can’t guarantee numbers, or they risk being bad people! Everyone knows that! This is where the trouble starts—in the seminar, in sales, and in life.
WHAT GOES WRONG: THAT QUEASY, UNEASY FEELING
In the seminar, I assure people that oxygen masks will be dropping from the ceiling. I tell them to secure their own mask ﬁrst, and then help others. They laugh, but tentatively.
For many of us, professionals and novices alike, “selling” brings up nightmarish thoughts, or at least a subtle but pervasive dread. The only way around this is to tell the truth about it. Before we can proceed with the seminar, we ﬁrst have to surface all the squirrelly little thoughts that people have about selling and those who do it, about themselves as sellers, about their product or service and about the people they will contact. Otherwise, they will take all these fearful thoughts and queasy feelings with them when they go out to sell.
I give them twenty minutes to write down all this negative mental chatter. Then they call out their answers, while my assistant writes everything down on a huge tablet in front of the room. Some ﬁfty minutes and thirty pages later, we all sit exhausted, staring at the tablet. As my assistant slowly turns back the thirty pages, we see phrases like:
~ Selling is a sleazy game, and only sleazy people play it.
~ Who do they think they are? Don’t they know they’re taking food out of my children’s mouths when they don’t buy?
~ People will know I’m a weasel, and just out for the money.
~ I’m not really that good a therapist, and people will ﬁnd out if I put myself out there.
~ The vitamins I’m selling aren’t as good as we say they are. How can I stand behind them?
~ People are miserly jerks, so I’ll have to trick them into buying something they don’t really want, and then they’ll hate me for it.
~ I can’t take rejection.
~ I try to be nice but they must see how pissed off and confused I am, so sometimes I don’t even ask them if they want to buy.
~ I’ll fail.
~ I’ll succeed.
~ I’ll feel like a fake, sound like a fake, and even if I’m not faking people will think I am.
Much of what winds up on the tablet isn’t actually true, or even what people really think—but the suffering they experience is real. These queasy, uneasy thoughts and feelings are snaking around in their conscious or unconscious minds, creating havoc and misery.
Oddly, there is very little difference between the thoughts of top salespeople and the thoughts of novices. The top producers have learned how to hide it better, to talk about it more obliquely and sometimes not to let it affect them as much, but I am always amazed at what they carry around with them.
The ﬁrst question I ask is, “How much of this is actually true?” People’s fears are real, but most of them admit that the chances of these fears actually materializing are minimal. Then I ask, “Can you see why selling sometimes seems hard, and why you don’t always get the results you want or feel great about doing it?”
They nod grimly, but at some point as my assistant keeps turning back through those thirty pages of mind-numbing thoughts and fears, someone starts to snicker. The things that go on in our minds are so wild, so abundant, so in conﬂict with one another and sometimes so ridiculous that eventually hysteria overtakes us and we can’t stop laughing. After a break, we settle down and start to take apart what goes wrong. Why do we get so crazy around sales?
WICKED OR WIMPY?
The conventional wisdom is that there are two kinds of people in sales. One group gets great numbers, but will stop at nothing to get them. The other group have kind, generous spirits, but they may or may not get results—and so may or may not have jobs, businesses, and incomes. Wicked, or wimpy!
Nobody wants to be part of either group, so we freeze. We become like deer in headlights, staring into the bright light of our fears. We don’t want to be, or to seem to be, like sleazy used car salesmen. We don’t want to impose on people, lose our dignity, or be rejected. We are willing to forego clients and commissions, and even give up on the dream of having our own businesses, rather than get into the sales game. Even seasoned professionals who have sold billions of dollars of goods or services have these concerns. They wonder if they can call up “the magic” again, and make it work just one more time.
THE “STOP” RESPONSE
Confronted with the choice between Wicked and Wimpy, many people simply stop. They get so hopelessly embroiled in worries that they refuse even to try selling, and take themselves out of the game completely.
Others just stand immobile in the middle of the ﬁeld. They don’t pick up the phone. They close the ﬁle with the list of people to call, if they’ve even brought themselves to make the list. They withdraw into themselves, rather than risk that their fears may be true—even when they know logically that most of those fears are ridiculous.
Of course, people who freeze in this way fail anyway. They don’t sell the widget, get the clients, raise the money, or do the seminar they’ve always dreamed of doing. They don’t build their businesses, make their quotas, get their projects off the ground, or share their visions. They don’t grow or widen their worlds, make their contribution, or fatten their pocketbooks.
Their product, service, or vision never sees the light of day, and all the people who might have beneﬁted from it never even get a crack at it. They withhold from people the contribution they might have made, and miss out on ﬁnancial success, relationships and experiences that could empower, expand and enhance their lives.
That’s what happens when we succumb to the “Stop” Response. But some people can’t stop. It’s their job to sell. Others took on a commitment to produce a certain result, or for some other reason feel they need to keep going, whether they like it or not. They often fall prey to the “Stagger” Response.
THE “STAGGER” RESPONSE
These people stagger forward. They tell themselves and others that they are “out there selling,” but they don’t bring all of themselves to the task.
They have one foot on the accelerator and one foot on the brake. They have trouble picking up the phone when there is anything else to do. They have very clean ﬂoors, alphabetized spice racks, defragmented hard drives, living rooms full of needlepointed pillows and garages full of sorted and organized nails, nuts and bolts—but they don’t have many sales.
They often feel frustrated, powerless, cranky, and out of control. They trudge on—but in agony.
Agony isn’t a good thing in the sales arena, and so they don’t get terriﬁc results. That makes them even more miserable. Unless they discover some way to combine power and peace of mind, they ﬁnd themselves with some difﬁcult choices.
They can go Wicked, and feel awful about themselves. They can go Wimpy, and probably fail. Or they can keep staggering, and succumb to the stress of playing, and usually losing, a game in which they are only half engaged. This is no way to live.
What if selling were no longer an exercise in avoidance, or in powering over the discomfort?
What if, instead, it were a chance to be the person you’ve always wanted to be each day, and at the same time be a star and make ﬁstfuls of money by offering people a product or service you value?
What if you were so clear about the value of your product, service, project, or vision that you loved talking about it, and spoke of it with conﬁdence and joy? What if you could just focus your attention on contributing to the person with whom you were speaking in the moment, and stop worrying about yourself or your results?
The Soul of Selling gives you these things and more. You begin to enjoy picking up the phone to tell people about what you’re offering. You start to think of yourself as the kind of person who can actually say, “I will have twenty people in my seminar this week,” and know that, without fail, you will have twenty people. Or, “I will meet that $500,000 quota.” Or, “I will have three new clients in the next two weeks.” What if you had fun with selling?
THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU IF . . .
When some people hear the word “selling,” their blood runs more quickly. When others hear “selling,” their blood runs cold. This book is for both groups.
It is for everyone who sells, invites, or in any way wants to call people to their product, service, cause, event, project, or vision. Whether you are an experienced sales professional, or recently nominated to get volunteers for the neighborhood association, you can exponentially increase both your results and your enjoyment of the process.
This book is not about marketing. It won’t tell you how to deﬁne or reach your audience. It won’t tell you how to write the world’s best email or ﬂyer, or get on Oprah. Nor is it about ﬁguring out people’s vulnerabilities so that you can box them into a corner, ask the perfect questions and either shame or dazzle them into buying what you’re selling.
This book is about talking to people face-to-face, or phone-to-phone—and interacting with them in a respectful, empowering way that honors both them and you. It is about the Fourfold Guarantee for Results, Integrity, Passion and Ease. It is for people who want to take charge of their relationship with selling—and enjoy all the ﬁnancial, social, emotional and even spiritual fruits that come from selling big and being good.
USING THIS BOOK
This book guides you step-by-step through personalizing the Soul of Selling approach for your speciﬁc situation. It is also a place you can come for inspiration and regeneration.
Part 1, The Soul of Selling: How and Why It Works (Chapters 1-4), gives you an overview of the method, the six steps that make it so powerful, the beneﬁts you’ll receive from using it, and how to deal with the Discomfort Dilemma that is always present in sales.
Part 2, Your Six Steps: Making the Soul of Selling Your Own (Chapters 5-10), is a detailed description of the six steps, with exercises to help you tailor each one to your particular situation and use it most effectively.
Part 3, Taking Charge: Becoming the Source of Your Own Success (Chapters 11-14), contains chapters on creating your Personal Sales Vision, giving and getting support, letting selling shape you into the person you’ve always wanted to be and creating a Synergy Group of like-minded sellers.
(To get an autographed paperback of The Soul of Selling, see the sidebar of this page.)