Now that you’ve found yourself in a sales/marketing role, an appropriate question to ask yourself would be, “Why am I selling?” Really probe introspectively for the answer to this question. Are your motives strictly to put money in your bank account? Do you want to make a better life for you and your family? Is this a temporary role you intend to play until you can find what you’re truly in search of?
If you’ve answered “Yes” to any of the above questions, then it’s time to examine some hypothetical scenarios.
For the first scenario let’s say you find yourself in a sales position that offers an extremely generous rate of compensation. It has a product that is easy to sell to your customer base. This hypothetical position allows you to rapidly fill your bank account, live a better life and help your family in the process. The downside is this product leads to great suffering, the deaths of many people, and irreparable harm to the Earth.
Would you still sell that product?
Another scenario to consider, what if you accept a sales role that is financially rewarding, requires little effort, but the products, or services you offer don’t work?
Would you still sell that service or product?
A typical sales position requires approximately 50 hours a week in time spent on the job. This doesn’t include an average commute time of 6 hours a week. Or the average preparation time of four hours every week applying make-up, tying ties, shining shoes, and performing other pedestrian tasks associated with going to work. Now let’s add the time when we are not on the job yet we think about work. Is it 30 minutes a day? Is it more?
In total, there are 168 hours in a week. About 56 hours are spent sleeping, leaving 112 conscious hours. If you are in a sales role with an allocation of time described above, you’re spending 64 of your conscious hours on the job every week, so roughly half of your waking life.
Now let’s say you’re in a sales role that reflects the first scenario described. Would you feel comfortable knowing that half of your life was spent causing suffering, death, and harm to the Earth?
To the second scenario: If you knowingly sell a product or service that doesn’t do what you claim it will do, I think you would agree that is a lie. If you take money from someone under false pretenses, that is, in it’s core essence, stealing. With the knowledge that half of your waking life will be rolled into your sales position, are you okay spending half of your life lying and stealing?
Most ethical people would say “No” to undertaking both of those hypothetical endeavors, but many people in sales tolerate and precipitate less egregious sales scenarios. Perhaps the product you’re selling doesn’t do everything the enterprise you’re representing asks you to claim. Or the products lead to some degree of undue suffering to someone, somewhere.
If you are not completely comfortable with the products or services you’re selling to others, you should closely examine your present sales position and then make a determination if you should carry on.
Buddha once said, “Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it.” Whatever we are selling needs to firmly align with whatever you have identified as your purpose; as it will consume a portion of your heart and soul. Anything that doesn’t dovetail nicely with that purpose, even for a short time, could harm you and others on a very profound level.
What would you be doing if money was not an issue?
What if you had so much that you and those closest to you need never work again? Would you enjoy an endless vacation? Would you travel the world? Would you buy anything your heart desired? Would you spend yourself and your wealth in the service of others? Many of us hold the notion of service in our hearts, but we wait for the day to come when our personal needs have been met. Why are we waiting? Respected yoga guru Bikram Choudhury once said, “If you can, you must, and if you can’t, you must try.”
When asked the question, “Why are you here on Earth?” most moral people will respond with a variation on the same answer – “to help others.” Most spiritual leaders would agree that “to help others” is an answer that deeply aligns with most of their spiritual philosophies. In fact, the Dali Lama once said, “Our prime purpose in life is to help others, and if we can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”
If you feel that your purpose in life is to help others, your role in whatever you are selling also must help others. We are all born with distinct gifts. Those who haven’t identified their own gifts often struggle to fulfill their purpose. The best of humanity finds ways to utilize their unique gifts to help meet their needs and fulfill their purpose of helping others.
Almost regardless of what we sell, whether it is concrete girders or advertising that will be over in 30 seconds, everything is impermanent. At some point, that product or service will be no more. What remains are our actions, if those actions are executed in the spirit of helping others, we will find wealth by giving. Not just the giving of our product or service at an honorable price, but also the giving of our time, our presence, our focus, and our commitment to whatever it is we have sold.