How to Find Fulfillment in Sales by Serving Others

What do you really want? It’s a good question. Some of us have an easy answer, while others struggle to describe what they really desire.

Either way, the answer to that question is usually the prevailing theme of our day, whether you’re at work, dinner, or even on vacation. If you’re like me, you constantly find yourself (consciously or subconsciously) focused on answering the question: 

“What do I want?”

Candidly, I think it’s normal. I think we were created with the instincts to take care of ourselves. During a recent conversation with one of my business partners, it struck me that I typically land on the wrong answer.

We were talking about a nonprofit organization his sixteen-year-old son recently launched to support wounded veterans, called Wood for Warriors (the proceeds from selling firewood go toward helping wounded veterans buy wheelchairs, etc.) 

He beamed as he explained how he and his son spent the last several months raising money, traveling to the Walter Reed Hospital in Maryland to visit a Ranger who had lost a leg and arm in Afghanistan, and spent countless hours finding and cutting firewood. 

He summed it up with this statement, as if he was surprised by what he was about to say: 

“I never felt more alive or fulfilled than I did chopping wood with my boys.”

I don’t want to disagree with that wise sage Ricky Bobby who once said, “If you’re not first, you’re last!” But while this may be true in racing, I don’t think it’s the way we were created to live.

If I am really honest, what I want is contentment – a deeper sense of fulfillment.

And I don’t get that by chasing after my selfish appetites. I find that by serving. And I can promise you it doesn’t always feel true, but it’s a principle: we ARE most fulfilled when we serve. If you need a case study, examine the lives of people who have unlimited resources to feed their self-centered appetites.

Hear me out – I’m not judging. I often think that if I had unlimited resources, I would end up in the same place as ____ (name your favorite celebrity tragedy – living or dead). 

My point is not to highlight the flaws of the rich and famous, but simply that if you want to know where the trail leads, it’s not difficult to figure out that self-gratification is not the answer. 

It’s also inspiring to see what some of the members of this very elite club have accomplished and to hear the positive things they say about their lives once they landed on this principle (check out Eric Clapton or Bono).


So how does this fulfillment principle apply to us in sales?

Here it is: You will be most fulfilled and content if you focus on helping the customer solve THEIR problems vs. focusing on YOUR commission (or what your commissions can buy). 

I’m not saying you shouldn’t care about commissions – it’s about focus. Where’s your priority? 

If you dedicate yourself to serving others, not only will you get what you really want, but I also firmly believe that you will be one of the most successful sales reps in your organization. More doors will open up. You’ll encounter a deeper level of disclosure about the customer’s hidden needs. Customers will be more loyal. Referrals will increase. Your presentations will have a much greater impact because you get out of the way. You’ll shift from trying to win the deal or make the perfect presentation to ensuring the customer makes the best decision.

Can you be successful if you just focus on achievement? Absolutely. But you won’t get what you really want. And I would argue that success is always diminished if your number one focus is you.


Should you serve everyone?

No. It’s impossible. We have to be strategic in whom we choose to serve.

“Tom, are you saying I should ignore my own needs?” Nope. You can’t give what you don’t have. I’m not saying we should spend every waking minute serving others. I’m speaking about purpose. It’s about reflecting on why we are put on this planet – to serve ourselves or to serve others? And I believe our creator wired us to embrace the latter. When we ignore this truth, it always leaves us wanting because we are going against the grain of who we really are and what we were created to do. Just like a true accountant will never be fully alive in a sales role, you and I will never truly be satisfied unless we embrace our role to serve.

I think the veterans figured this out a long time ago. They are very clear about their role and purpose. They were forced to choose whom they would serve the day they signed up for duty… and I can’t imagine where we would all be if they hadn’t dedicated ALL they had to serve us and our country.


Next Actions

If you would like to learn more about what drives ASLAN Training and Development, you can read about our Genesis and also see how we apply some core principles in our Virtual Selling Skills Program. 

This program has helped dozens of companies this year alone make the transition to virtual selling.  This may all be new to some, but for us, we have been doing this since 1996 and would love to help.


As Co-founder and CEO, Tom’s primary role is to create content that helps people live, sell, and serve more effectively. Find him on LinkedIn

1 Comment

  1. Austin Peterson on September 18, 2020 at 3:02 pm


    Thank you for this heartfelt submission. It really spoke to me and aligns with some big personal changes I’ve gone through the last couple of years. As a consultant, I’m completely bought into the “other centered” approach to my life and business and it’s made both so much better.

    Thank you and I will continue to strive for progress in this way of living and will continue to be an advocate for Aslan.

    Austin Peterson

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The best way to get to know us is to know what we value. If we teach it we live it, because what we do speaks far more eloquently than what we say. We’ll always choose people over profits, and we’re most fulfilled and effective when we serve. It drives our culture, frames our training programs and transforms the lives of the clients we partner with.

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