Serving Is the New Selling, and Other Tips for Having Your Best Sales Year Ever

UPDATED: May 7, 2024
PUBLISHED: January 3, 2022

Welcome to the year you went big. As the calendar turns to January, it’s time to set wild goals about the personal sales records you can smash with a little planning and practice.

As a 100% commissioned salesperson for the past 19 years, I’ve often wondered what are the characteristics of the top producing sales professionals and successful leaders.

What’s there to learn about the mindset, skill set and willpower that allows them to achieve in any economy? How do they bounce back after a setback? What are the rituals, routines and revelations that allow them to flourish despite challenges?

In a world where customers can buy anytime and in any way they like, sales professionals are moving faster, operating with more flexibility and putting significant emphasis on their mental health.

Here are four tangible ways for you to have your best year ever.

1. Take your meds.

I connected with Kathy Romero, a business coach, and asked her for her secret sauce to thriving and overcoming anxiety. She said, “Simon, you have to take your MEDS.” Not aware of any performance-enhancing drugs for pitching products and services to buyers, I asked, “What in the world are MEDS?”

She said, “Investing your energy in meditating, exercising, dieting and sleeping.”

Meditating (mindfulness) is carving out time to breathe and clear your mind before you start the day. It can be as simple as sitting in a chair with your feet on the ground and your back in an erect position, then taking a few slow, deep breaths. Inhale goodness and exhale anxiety.

Exercise early and often. According to the Mayo Clinic, “regular exercise releases feel-good endorphins and other natural brain chemicals that can enhance your sense of well-being. Exercising takes your mind off worries.” Set the tone in the morning, carve out time midday or unwind after a busy afternoon with some body movement.

Diet fuels the body and mind. Commit to planning meals, keep a stash of healthy snacks throughout the day and, most importantly, drink water. 

Sleep is “the Swiss army knife of health,” says Matthew Walker, Ph.D., currently the Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California and a leading advocate of a good night’s rest. According to a Rand Corporation study, in the U.S. $411 billion in productivity is lost per year because of insufficient sleep. Rand suggest consistent wake-up times and limiting the use of electronic items before bedtime. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

2. Become an exceptional listener.

Great salespeople understand that the same letters used to spell the word listen also spell the word silent. Exceptional listening means getting things right the first time, which is all the more important in a world of swipe, click and buy. Yankelovich, a market research firm, estimates that a person sees 5,000 advertising messages a day. Sales professionals that stand head and shoulders above the noise are long remembered for their quality of listening instead of the quantity of words spoken.

Exceptional listening is deep listening. According to Mark Nepo, author of Seven Thousand Ways to Listen, “deep listening is more than hearing with our ears, but taking what is revealed in any given moment with our body, our being and our heart.”

This type of listening positions you to be what business author Joe Calloway calls a “Category of One” caliber of sales professional. When you are talking less and listening more, this enables you to listen beyond the words and read between the lines.

3. Cultivate a wealth DNA.

Frank and Theresa AuCoin are serial entrepreneurs who own a franchise sign business, real estate and are among the largest producers in LegalShield through their Performance Family Network. Frank has been awarded Charleston Businessperson of the Year and South Carolina Businessperson of the Year. Recently, over dinner, I was riveted by his encyclopedic mind and Theresa’s laser-sharp wit. Being personal friends with Jim Rohn, they shared many stories of his brilliance. I was curious to know their secret for attracting wealth and success. Without missing a beat, Frank said the door to wealth and achievement swings on these five hinges:

  • Respect and honor everyone because they matter.
  • Be on time.
  • Do what you say you’ll do.
  • Finish what you start.
  • Say please and thank you.

He then reminded me of one particular Rohn quote: “Success is something you attract by the person you become.”

I asked him what else he did to become successful, and he said, “Personal mastery is a step above personal development.” He routinely surrounds himself with opportunities for learning. He’s always reading, watching and listening. After all, the more he understands from different disciplines, the more well-rounded his thinking and communication is.

4. Don’t sell—serve.

A few years ago, an old boss from my time working at Disney called and suggested that I meet Michael Hanley. Michael is in the insurance business, and it dawned on me that he was probably going to shake me down to buy life insurance from him. I dreaded calling him but decided to follow through anyway.

He invited me to meet him for lunch at Orlando’s Bay Hill Country Club, the private golf course built by the legendary Arnold Palmer. I did my best to contain my excitement.

On the day I was supposed to meet him, I arrived super early looking casket-sharp. He warmly greeted me, and we proceeded to sit and visit before ordering lunch. After we placed our order, I quickly scanned the environment around me and noticed an older gentleman slightly hunched over in the corner. I did a double take and mumbled to myself, “That’s Arnold Palmer!” I abruptly left the table without excusing myself and swiftly went over to shake the great golfer’s hand. I said, “Thank you for being a great American, and thank you for what you’ve done for the game of golf.”  He looked up at me and said, “Thank you, young man.” I preceded to take my phone out and snap a selfie but noticed an entourage closing in, so I politely put my phone back in my pocket and returned to the table.

By this time, Michael had turned red and was laughing. He said, “You’re not allowed to use your phone in the club, let alone take a picture with Arnold Palmer.”

I said, “Michael, what’s the likelihood of an average guy like me, from Buffalo, New York, having an opportunity to dine in your prestigious Grey Poupon country club and see Arnold Palmer?” We laughed it off that day. Michael didn’t try to sell me insurance.

A few weeks later, I was speaking at an Equitable Insurance sales event. I was about to leave the stage and the host said to wait because “we have something for you.” She then proceeded to take a hat out of a bag, autographed by Arnold Palmer. Michael was in the audience that day and had arranged this pleasant surprise. Michael and I took a picture of me sporting my new hat along with my Cheshire Cat smile. He still didn’t try to sell me insurance.

Three months passed and sadly, Arnold Palmer died. I called Michael and we begin to reminisce about the day we had lunch at the country club. I decided that day that, even though he didn’t bring it up, I would buy three life insurance policies.

He never had to sell me. He simply understood that when you sell to someone, it’s a transaction. But when you connect, it’s a relationship.

After buying the policies, Michael didn’t just ditch me and move onto the next prospect. He calls me quarterly to ask about my business and my family. When I hit a few months of declining revenue, he personally met with me and opened his Rolodex. He introduced me to several of his CEO clients who have now become my clients.

The bottom line: If you want to have your best year ever, just remember that serving is the new selling. 

I hope you consider embedding these practices into your days ahead. Your life will never be the same again. And that is how to make 2022 your best year ever. 

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2022 Issue of SUCCESS magazine. Photo courtesy of Simon T. Bailey

Simon T. Bailey

Simon T. Bailey is an international speaker, writer and personal transformation strategist. He is the author of Shift Your Brilliance: Harness the Power of You, Inc., and Be the SPARK: Five Platinum Service Principles for Creating Customers for Life. When he’s not working, he enjoys rooting for the Buffalo Bills (his hometown team).