How To Sell Without Selling Your Soul
With most of my career being invested in retail I can tell you all the client-facing tricks of the trade.
From the quickly spoken mall filled, “there’s a sale in the back and t-shirts are buy one get one half off” to high-end experiences where we are taught to disguise the words expensive and cheap with investment and cost-effective. The way humans have been witness to human spending behavior is, in short, never about what we’re selling. It’s the feeling, the image, and the expectation of what that consumer can get out of the product. It is the magic in how someone (with their body language, verbal intonations, client’s needs being met, and sale associate’s observation) presents both confidence and mirrored performative techniques that can make or break a sale. When employees are encouraged to sell without selling, what companies are really suggesting is to up sale that side of fries, the cute little wallet, or that pack of gum in a way that builds rapport and comes across as effortless.
This is a system that profits the company but often confuses employees’ self-worth with client retention rate.
Those who do well within this context are often rewarded. Bulletin board-lined break room walls fill common space that poses to incentivize employees to work harder and go for the company’s quota and goals.
These walls line the room with the feeling that competition builds camaraderie and that healthy competition amongst coworkers can be good for the company. Week after week the same few names constantly rise to the top for those perfectionism junkies to get their fix while the rest of their team hangs back in lowered expectation. This continues until someone beings to feel burnout or work exhaustion and it goes one of two ways.
One, of course, is that the team member quits and goes off on the company. They might retaliate in social media outlets or amongst company friends. Two, and more often the case, employees feel stuck at the enterprise though they do not want to be there other than to receive a paycheck.
Morale goes down, communication becomes damaged, and your team centers those in favor of hierarchy while the rest of the worker bees feel like they would rather let the fire alarm go off rather than invest themselves fully. These feelings permeate through the company and eventually, everything feels terrible.
It’s not our fault.
Companies, especially in America, center profits over people. That includes those who work for them. This is the way it’s been done and will continue in many cases as long as we let it. So what are we to do? How do we allow ourselves the space to thrive in work environments that take more than they offer? Step into your power and figure out your deal-breakers.
1. IDENTIFY WHAT IS YOURS AND LET GO OF WHAT’S NOT
Work boundaries are some of the most complex feelings we can have. Learning to separate our self-identity from our work identity can change your whole outlook on life. Try to figure out what recurring issues are ones that stem from you or you are a part of. This might be in regards to an unwillingness, built resentment, or just plain dislike for a task or aspect of your job. A strong indication this needs to be reassessed is if you find yourself “taking work home with you” emotionally, spiritually, or physically. Begin to separate your work feelings from your personal feelings to help yourself let go.
2. IS THIS A JOB OR MY CAREER?
It’s vital that we understand the difference between these two ideas. A job is a place you clock in, do a thing, and receive a paycheck.
Most of us start off here when we’re younger as we work toward having a career. But so many of us can get trapped or get stuck at this stage making your life absolutely miserable.
A Career is a space where no matter the challenges or excitement you feel a pull toward the work that balances its give and take.
A Career focuses on what motivates you to do your work in the world and gives you a sense of purpose. It’s important to figure out where you are at your current place of employment. If you find yourself in the job category it might be time to assess what your passions are and where your talents can match up to thrive in the world. If you’re in a Career but you dislike your situation, it might be time to get honest with yourself and look for other opportunities that are more suited to where you want to go.
3. CALL A MEETING WITH YOUR BOSS
If you are constantly stressed at work but you haven’t let anyone that can help you in on your process you are doing yourself a disservice. We owe it to ourselves to self-advocate in ways where we need more support.
If you don’t feel you can have an honest dialogue with your immediate supervisor, take it to someone who can help you higher up. You might need to explain your friction with this manager to give context as to why you went around them in the process.
Refrain from gossiping with those who are at the same level about a problem you haven’t attempted to resolve like a healthy adult in the workplace. It’s important that you feel good at your work, that you are seen for your efforts, and rewarded accordingly.
That can only happen if you try to resolve it with someone who can find new solutions or help you see it differently.
4. STOP OVERWORKING! ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE SALARIED
Say it with me now. I am worthy. I am amazing. I am the one who needs to realize this no matter how productive I have (or have not) been at work I have inherent value. Stop allowing work to get in the way of your true self.
That will keep you running on empty until you hit a wall resulting in broken relationships, health problems, and possibly death. An overworked you is also never fun to be around. Stop kidding yourself. Take a nap, run a bath, make a dartboard with a picture of that shitty account you just closed on that was a pain in the ass. But stop overworking. It serves NO one. Especially not you.
5. USE HELPFUL TOOLS TO ORGANIZE AND COMMUNICATE AT WORK
There are some amazing tools to help streamline and organize work communications. Stop reading a million emails a day and learn to organize and delegate differently.
Tools like Trello, Slack, Monday.com, SmartSheet, Wrike, ProjectManager, Backlog, FreshBooks, and others have been game-changers across many industries. Often these have either free or paid subscriptions where communication becomes funneled into channels that give you an all-in-one glance which makes communication easier and more effective. If you are an Owner, CEO, Manager, or in a highly valued position and are reading this I strongly encourage you to try one (or more) of these apps yourself first. Giving this sort of thing to a group without knowing if its functionality will effectively work within your company first is setting yourself up for failure and will result in going back into old habits. Once those kinks get worked out, these platforms can change the way you value your team and help accomplish that pile of work that’s been collecting dust. Change is good.
It is important that you quit your job when you feel like you are not part of a reciprocal relationship and you have tried to rectify your differences. I mean, when the time is right and you have prepared yourself.
You need to find work that is mutually fulfilling and beneficial to your life’s purpose. It is not enough to be a gold star of a company no matter how profitable or rewarding it seems. I don’t mean to put down your accomplishments.
But I am asking you to think about what it would be like to apply your skills toward a career that doesn’t keep you at the bottom while the company owner, who never steps foot in the door, vacations in beautiful destinations all year long.
You deserve that beautiful life! We all do.
As someone who has lived in many places and has shifted careers at least three times,
I know what it’s like. As an A Type, get it done, goal-oriented person I have often subjugated my personal self-worth against how the company or my bosses felt about me.
I took it personally when I managed teams that were performing less than my at the time unrealistic expectations were not met. Even if my team had done everything in their power to make quota or wrangle every sale they could, I would often take it home with me. I lost sleep, contemplated working off the clock to receive a “job well done” praise, and even ended up in the emergency room with heart palpitations twice thinking I was having a heart attack. But you know what I realized?
All the good relationships and positive feedback were never sustainable enough to enter my heart space. I needed to believe it myself.
Within a framework of honesty, integrity, and putting ourselves first, then and only then can we show up wholeheartedly.
You deserve more than you are giving yourself credit for. Even if you can’t see it right now. Think about it some. If you could do anything with your life what would it be? What are you meant for? How can you make the world a better place? If you’re not in a position to do that where you are now, that’s okay. Take time to get clear on your vision, your life’s purpose, your childhood dreams, and let yourself unfold into the best you.