After a rather acrimonious exchange with an evangelistic commenter, I’m reflecting on the technique they use to spread their views.
I’m not a natural salesman, but I’ve run my own businesses, and so I’ve depended on being able to sell, at least a little. There are a few things I’ve learned, from experience and from reading dozens of books:
1. Listen more than you talk. Assaulting someone with a wave of benefits doesn’t work. Find out where they are and what they need.
2. Ask questions. Even when you’ve finished listening, it is better to ask questions rather than to go into a sales pitch. Questions allow you to understand needs better, and lets the person you’re selling to understand that this is about their decision to buy, not your need to sell.
3. Use the terminology of the buyer. There are lots of jargon terms you use to think about your product. But the sales process isn’t about getting the buyer to speak your language, but being able to speak theirs.
4. Acknowledge the benefits of the alternatives. I often have been selling a service that otherwise the buyer would have to do themselves. So I acknowledge that they are my competition, and don’t diminish their skills. Even with other external competitors I acknowledge the competition and indicate the beneficial difference of what I’m selling.
5. Genuine flattery works. Except when it is obsequious, or obviously faked, when you can come across as two-faced. But honestly pointing out the obvious strengths of the buyer is a good way to build trust. Again, because I tend to be selling a service otherwise done in house, it is important that I make it clear I don’t think I am better than them or their team in a general sense. Just that their obvious expertise lies in one region, and mine in another, and they can get the best of both worlds if we join forces.
So five things that I think help my sales.
Five things I’m musing on, because — in my experience — the way folks are taught to evangelise is often the absolute opposite of these. So there have been several folks who’ve arrived on this blog with evangelistic zeal who:
1. launch into evangelistic spiels, without listening to what is said to them,
2. assume they know everything there is to know without asking any questions about where I am or what I think,
3. fill their comments with theological jargon,
4. deride any reasons I might have for thinking what I think (and as per 2, they have no idea what they might be), and
5. insult me.
Now, other than being quite willing to be as snarky and nasty back, I don’t really mind this. I quite enjoy arguments, and always have. There have been some folks on here who’ve found creative ways to insult me, and that’s always fun.
But what terrible sales technique. Why is it that evangelicalism, a religion based on the whole idea of spreading the faith, is so incompetent when it comes to sales technique?
Perhaps I should be glad. But it does seem odd.
Have you ever had a religious ‘sales’ experience that has done it right?