If you know Cherilynn Castleman, you see the purpose behind her book, What’s in the C.A.R.D.S?: 5 Post-Pandemic Sales Strategies, has nothing to do with profits and notoriety. In fact, the book has everything to do with helping others. Knowing the world of sales and business would be drastically different coming out of the pandemic, Castleman felt compelled to share her expertise. “I wrote this book to help salespeople and businesses who have already lost so much in the pandemic,” says Castleman passionately.
Castleman asserts that the pandemic has changed everything about business. For example, business owners are going to be more frugal and less whimsical in what they buy. Therefore, salespeople will have to get creative and adjust their strategy. In her book, Castleman uses a deck of cards to illustrate how to achieve sales mastery in the post-pandemic world. She also created the acronym Collaboration Analysis Relationships Development Strategy to represent the core competencies that will guide sales success.
A world-traveled executive coach and founder of CGI, LLC, Castleman decided to embark on this project to help others in these most unusual times. But she didn’t do it alone. “My daughter has been my editor since a very young age. She took my stories and made them come to life,” says Castleman, who uses her real-life experiences as examples in the book.
Castleman didn’t just ‘start fresh.’ She had hoards of blogs and other professional writings that were organized and gleaned for information. Blogging is something that didn’t come naturally to Castleman at first. The impetus behind her blogs was initially fueled by a lack of exposure. “Not long ago, I came face-to-face with the reality that I had been in business for over fifteen years, and I was invisible on social media,” says Castleman. As a business coach and executive trainer, she has traveled the world helping small businesses and huge companies propel their sales by training their executives. She knew she could be doing more to share her knowledge. Having a commanding presence on social media was an excellent place to start.
“I began writing about 10-15 minutes every morning and eventually took those ideas and created a blog,” says Castleman. Part of what Castleman writes in the blogs are observations of trends and market reactions that significantly impact sales and business. And she gives practical advice from past experiences to help others successfully move forward. Castleman provides this example: “Coming out of the market crisis of 2008, economists noted that women were outselling men. So, you have to really dig down and find out why.” Castleman also explains that understanding the ‘why’ part helps people know how to perform in similar situations.
In the 2008 case, Castleman says the underlying factors were embedded in the basic nature of men vs. women. It may sound stereotypical; however, the statistics don’t lie. Women have a more empathetic nature that really relates to people who have endured economic and professional crises. These people needed more than a quick fix for their business. They needed to heal emotionally. And the caring, patient presence of women appealed to more people.
“People in sales have to get over the fact that it’s not all about them. It’s about the customer. And if you go in with one, single motive—to sell—you are not giving people what they need—especially people who have been through a recession or a pandemic,” asserts Castleman. “I teach people how to be present and how to listen,” she adds. She says empathetic listening takes practice. She teaches people how to slow their body functions such as heart rate and blood pressure enough to “listen between the words.”
Castleman says that after you make a human connection with people, they trust you and are more inclined to buy what you’re selling. But going in ‘hot’ ready for the sale is an ‘all about you’ move at a time when it should be ‘all about them.’ “If you are just present for them and let them tell you their story and tell you their fear, they will eventually be ready to get back to business. And when they are, they will buy what you’re selling because they will remember your kindness,” adds Castleman.
While Castleman’s expertise is sales, her book transcends that boundary. Castleman believes her editor-daughter not being in business helped develop a universal tone for the book. However, it’s the practical information on listening, being present, and being kind that make it a guide with life lessons any professional can utilize. Her critics agree. “The lessons were useful and great,” says Sharmain Matlock-Turner, President and CEO of Urban Affairs Coalition. “I know it’s about sales, but I sort of think being a lawyer is also about sales because you have to sell people on following your legal advice, and also I think these lessons are about being a successful person in general,” Matlock-Turner adds.
Life beyond the book is more of the same for Castleman—teaching and helping others. In addition to running her coaching and training company, Castleman also works at Sistas in Sales, an education and training company that helps black and brown women amass the skills they need to make it big in the competitive world of sales. Castleman also coaches women who have hit the glass ceiling and seem to have nowhere to go. “I show women that they must either move on from a company that’s not ready for their powerful presence or be an intentional trailblazer where they are,” says Castleman. “But mainly,” she adds, “I teach women how to be so good at what they do, they cannot be ignored.”
What’s in the C.A.R.D.S.?: 5 Post Pandemic Sales Strategies by Cherilynn Castleman is a timely collection of sales remedies for challenging economic times. However, Castleman’s expertise in human nature also shines through. In all realms of life, at all times, people want and need human connection. According to Castleman, the best salespeople after the pandemic will be the patient, empathetic listeners that exude kindness. But shouldn’t we all strive for these qualities to be better professionals and better people? Maybe it’s time to find out What’s in the C.A.R.D.S. for you.