In the bestseller “The Life You Can Save,” Peter Singer outlines the case for charitable giving in the 21st century. The gap between the rich and the poor is larger than ever, and “For the first time in history, eradicating world poverty is within our reach.” In 2018 the average person can find and donate to effective organizations easily and with confidence, yet most do not. The book lays out why and how extreme poverty can be lessened with the participation of the wealthiest nations. Car sales is one of the careers in which you can participate in effective altruism from a young age, but this content is applicable to almost all career paths.
In reading “The Life You Can Save,” I stumbled upon the ultimate strategy for how to stay positive in sales. By setting aside a strict 5% giving rate I am able to maintain discipline at work better than ever before.
Struck with the loss of motivation, I harnessed 5% gross monthly giving to change my attitude towards work. Percent based charity gave me laser focus to dominate in my sales.
How To Stay Positive In Sales: The Early Challenges
Figuring out how to stay positive in sales has always been a latent struggle for me. Starting in sales was a rollercoaster in emotions, but I always struggled with staying positive.
My first few months, compared to my best friend, I underperformed. This lead me to question my own potential. How could I stay positive if I wasn’t the best? Charity would not have helped in those months, as what I needed was guidance. I ended up finding guidance in books and on the advice of my sales managers. Getting through the first few months was difficult, but I persevered, and I grew an incredible business as the years went on.
My troubles were not done yet, and the question of how to stay positive in sales was due to come back around. You see, as I became successful, all my needs were quickly met. I ran a surplus every month, saving thousands towards the goal of an early retirement*. It was a weird problem to have- I was successful enough to meet all my needs and save every month, but I wasn’t content. I felt useless in my success- all my hard work was doing was (slowly) making me rich.
Working hard for my personal gain was somehow unfulfilling. This was, in itself, a problem. No one likes to buy from an unhappy person, and people especially hate successful unhappy people. Since so many people still equate money with happiness, the idea of someone that can’t stay positive even when blessed with a healthy income is reprehensible. Regardless of what others thought, I was lost, challenged with how to stay positive in sales when the reward for my work was just savings in the bank.
How To Stay Positive In Sales: Percent Giving
It was in this frame of mind that I found Peter Singer and the idea of percent based giving. I’d always loved the idea of charity, but had no schedule for giving. I would give charity when prompted, but Peter Singer had a moral argument for giving on a schedule:
“Most of us are absolutely certain that we wouldn’t hesitate to save a drowning child, and that we would do it at considerable cost to ourselves. Yet while thousands of children die each day, we spend money on things we take for granted and would hardly notice if they were not there. Is that wrong? Is so, how far does our obligation to the poor go?” (p.12)
He invites readers to give a pledge of charity to give a percentage of their income to charity. When asked “Why Should I Take The Pledge?” Peter responds:
Pledging serves two primary purposes:
- It helps you hold yourself accountable for following through on your good intentions.
- When you tell your community (family, friends, coworkers, etc.) about your pledge (which we encourage you to do), it influences others to join you in taking action to improve the lives of those living in extreme poverty.
I couldn’t argue with his logic, although I didn’t initially see the connection between my pledge and my challenge of how to stay positive in sales.
How To Stay Positive In Sales: The Change I Noticed In The First Few Months
I settled on giving 5% of my before-tax income to charity per month, which (as of now) comes to around $10k a year. I decided to give monthly, mostly to keep me consistent.
The first donation was painful. I generally spend $3500 per month for all of my expenses, so adding on $800 did not go unnoticed. After a few minutes, I made peace with the fact that monthly giving would delay my financial goals, and simply conceded that others needed the money more.
It was in the first few months that I noticed a change in my mindset. At that point, a secret to all (except my wonderful girlfriend) my monthly percentage gave me a renewed reason to hustle. Now, I was selling cars not just for myself but also for all who received the benefits of my charitable giving. The 5%, being a percentage, would scale with my success. This was a powerful thought.
Now I had a motivation to be the best, aside from personal gain. The more I sold, the more I would give, no additional thought necessary. Suddenly I felt positive at work. I would bike in, a smile on my face, looking forward to the challenge of making sales.
How To Stay Positive In Sales: Customer’s Perspective
After a few months of giving, I began to receive thank you emails from the staff at The Life You Can Save.
a nice thank you message is powerful
I realized something game-changing when reading these emails. If I could have use charity to become ethically aligned with my customers, I would be able to build stronger relationships and inspire more giving.
The first challenge was going to be developing a way to naturally start a conversation about charity without it feeling forced. Quickly following that, I was going to need to figure out a word track that would make customers feel included in my giving rather than guilt tripped. I settled on a two-part strategy.
With a little flair for being cheeky, I put this sign under the glass of my desk and waited:
The response was immediate. Nearly every customer that sat down at the desk would point at the sign, but many waited to bring it up. During the negotiation, the customers would bring up the sign, wondering if it was an additional potential discount. I developed this light-hearted word track:
CUSTOMER: Uh *points at paper* can you tell me about the 5%? Is that an additional discount?
ME: No, not an additional discount, but definitely something that I would love to tell you about! For the last X months, I have been giving 5% of my before-tax income to charity. I know that there are many places where you can buy your next Audi, so I thought it may be nice to know that if you purchase with me, some of your luxury purchase goes towards those in the greatest need.
CUSTOMER: Wow, that’s actually pretty cool. How did you decide to start doing this?
The conversation then takes a turn for the positive, which is a welcome shift during heated negotiations!
How To Stay Positive In Sales: The Results Of Positive Ethics
Percent based giving through The Life You Can Save has unlocked for me the answer of how to stay positive in sales. Now I sell for myself, but also for others. Every extra dollar I make gets split between me and those in need. It’s an awesome feeling.
The power of effective altruism comes to play especially when interfacing with customers. I guess I should have seen this coming, as I personally always love buying from companies with strong ethics, such as Patagonia. Why couldn’t I harness the same power?
That review is from an R8 buyer. Powerful!
Effective altruism can provide an ethical source of positive motivation that can improve your reputation in the eyes of your customers.
How To Stay Positive In Sales: Try Out Charity
The challenge of how to stay positive in sales eluded me for over six years. Now I harness the power of effective altruism to align my ethics with my sales. I have not only seen a huge uptick in my dedication to work, but also a positive response from my customers.
It’s my wager that, within 1 year, I’ll make more after giving 5% than I did before giving.
Let me know if this struck a chord with you, I’d love to hear your feedback.