3 Things I Learned About Sales by Volunteering for a Presidential Campaign

Shifting your focus to a larger cause can deepen your understanding about entrepreneurship.

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By Gregg Schwartz

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I recently signed up to do a volunteer phone-banking shift for a presidential campaign. I'm not usually a very politically active person. I vote and follow the news, and I care about the direction of the country, but until now I had never gotten directly involved with political volunteering. But while cold-calling prospective voters in New Hampshire to talk about why I believe that one particular presidential candidate is the right choice, I was surprised at how much I learned.

I've made a lot of sales cold calls in my career. I write about sales for this website. But volunteering for a political campaign really drove home some valuable insights about sales and the deeper meaning of the work of being a salesperson or entrepreneur. Here are a select three.

Related: Why You Should Volunteer Before Launching Your Career

Tap Into Your Passion

As a salesperson, your job is to sell or market the company you work for. A lot of the time, salespeople don't have a lot of passion for the product that they're selling, or maybe they used to care, but it got stale. When I was volunteering for the political campaign, I was "selling" a candidate who I really believe in and think is best for our country, my community and my family. That sense of passion fed into every call I made, and it made the time pass quickly.

As an entrepreneur or salesperson, it's important to go back to first principles when you're selling and reconnect with that spirit of passion. What is it about this product or service or solution that is really amazing or inspiring or worth talking about? How can you tap into that sense of passion and enthusiasm? What is it about this product that is worth selling?

Not every product or service is easy to sell. Not every company has a world-changing concept, but every time you pick up the phone or engage with a customer, you owe it to them and to yourself to try to speak from a place of enthusiasm and passion. If you don't care about what you're selling, why should the customer?

Speak With Authenticity

The best sales experiences tend to happen when you're speaking from the heart. When I was making these calls for the presidential campaign, I found that I was able to speak very naturally. I was just talking off the top of my head, being spontaneous, sharing some heartfelt thoughts about why this candidate matters to me.

Ideally, your sales conversations shouldn't sound like you're just reading from a script. Dig deep into how you feel about the product or solution you're selling. How would you approach the call if you were just having a casual conversation with a friend about some great new app you found for your phone, restaurant you tried or movie you saw?

This type of authentic, spontaneous conversation is ideal for building sales relationships, because it's true to who you are and what you care about. Even if what you're selling for your company isn't as easy to talk about as a fun new movie or great restaurant, you can still tap into that same sense of honest enthusiasm. Cut through the technical-speak and create an emotional connection.

Related: 5 Ways Volunteering Helps You Do Well While Doing Good

Convey a Sense of Meaning

Why did I take a few hours out of my busy life to spend time on the phone talking with strangers for free? Because I believe in my candidate and I wanted to be part of making a difference. The time I spent on the phone for the campaign felt natural and fun and meaningful.

The same feelings need to happen as part of our everyday sales conversations. Too many sales people fall into a rut of just reciting a script or going through the motions. It doesn't have to be that way! Let's try harder to home in on the meaningful difference that our companies are trying to make in the world.

Every company, even if they sell something that is technical or complex or "boring," is trying to make a difference on some level. What you sell has value and purpose. Try to tap into this sense of being on a mission, making a meaningful difference and conveying authenticity and passion — every day, on every sales call.

Gregg Schwartz

Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Strategic Sales & Marketing

Gregg Schwartz is the vice president of sales and marketing at Strategic Sales & Marketing, a lead-generation firm based in Connecticut.

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