Selling Like Jesus

Most people strive to be good and fair in their personal and professional lives. Christians and even non-Christians try to model the so-called Golden Rule as proclaimed by Jesus. But what would Jesus be like in today’s modern marketplace as a professional salesperson?

I had a friend tell me recently that he’s trying to be a more thoughtful person, a nicer guy. Not only at home with his wife and kids and neighbors, but also in the marketplace at his work and engagement with customers.

Sounds good to me. Seems like something we all should be doing, right?

My friend said he suffers from being too self-centered; that he’s realizing that most of what he does in personal and business interactions is oriented around what’s best for him and his feelings and his own finances.

Again, sounds like a good thing to work on.

Christian Behavior in the Marketplace
My friend’s good intentions are no new thing. The Bible is full of calls to be good and fair in our personal relationships as well as in our business transactions. Here are just a few highlights:

  • Do not defraud or rob your neighbor. (Leviticus 19:13)
  • You must have accurate and honest weights and measures. (Deuteronomy 25:13-15)
  • Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice. (Psalm 112:5)
  • The Lord detests dishonest scales… (Proverbs 11:1)
  • Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness… (Jeremiah 22:13)
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. (Matthew 7:12)
  • Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind…and…love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:30-31).

The Sales Superstar
What would Jesus be like in today’s modern marketplace? How would He engage as a model of behavior for how we should engage? Taken further, what would Jesus be like as a professional salesperson?Or from another angle, can a professional salesperson sell like Jesus? It’s an interesting question that gives us pause to consider the possibilities and implications for us Christ-followers in the marketplace.

I never proselytize in my business interactions. It’s never been my style or approach. In non-overt ways I do however reinforce good Christian principles that underlie fair and good business practices. In my professional life, I coach and train companies and their sales teams in selling more effectively through the clarification of effective sales process, sales messaging, and sales management. Over the past 15 years I have often been asked by investors and company leaders the characteristics and profile of an effective “superstar” salesperson. I’ve got a lot experience with this in my own sales and management career as well as in coaching, training and consulting with hundreds of companies and literally thousands of salespeople around the world.

I answered this question about top producing salespeople in my sales book, 42 Rules to Increase Sales Effectiveness.1 In a chapter titled Be a Superstar, I maintain that there are 5 characteristics of a superstar salesperson. Four of these five characteristics are fairly straightforward and would be agreed to by most people.

One of them might be surprising:

  1. Driver – a self-starter. The best salespeople are those that need no outside motivation. They possess an inner drive that pushes them to limits beyond the common individual. It’s not easily taught.
  2. Technician – technically self-sufficient. The ideal rep can demonstrate the product themselves and only uses outside technical support for advanced situations. They are knowledgeable and wise about their products and the customer’s environment and problems. They are not simply sellers; they are good mechanics that understand how the engine works.
  3. Facilitator – manages individual and group communications. A superstar rep is fairly adept in handling discussions one-on-one as well as in one-to-many communications. An excellent rep can command a boardroom full of customer and company representatives and facilitate the discussion appropriately.
  4. Empathizer – can express identification with others. A great salesperson can identify genuinely and naturally with others and their issues and problems. This stems from a sensitive heart and an ability to put themselves in another person’s shoes and effectively listen and respond with compassion and empathy.
  5. Servant – a humble and healthy sense of self. In my book, a sales superstar is ultimately a server of others, like a servant with a heart who cares for other people before themselves. This stems from their own security and strong sense of self. They don’t have to push, defend or fight, they actually can care for and desire to serve the other side. It’s not a weakness – it’s an attractive strength.

As shown below in the diagram from my book, the attributes and make-up of a sales superstar are indeed like the 5 balanced points on a star. While these gifts and characteristics may come naturally to some, they can be developed and fine-tuned. But balance is the key. If any one point is extended or over-exaggerated, then the star is off-balance. An effective salesperson is strong and equally weighted on all superstar points.

Jesus as Superstar
Jesus, in any capacity in today’s marketplace, even in professional sales, would rate well here. Yes, we would do well to model Christ-like behavior in all of our personal and professional interactions. Motivation, knowledge/wisdom, and communication skills are all certainly desirable traits for anyone engaging in the marketplace. Empathy is a real plus as well. But a servant’s heart is the twist here that may not necessarily be intuitive for success in the marketplace.

But it is.

As far as engaging with diligence, wisdom, love, heart, integrity and compassion, Jesus would no doubt embody all of these traits and interact with sensitivity and nuanced grace in today’s marketplace. Yes, He’d be one to model – a loving, empathizing sales superstar with a servant’s heart of compassion and service toward his fellow man and prospective customer.

And I’d bet He’d hit and exceed his sales targets.

How is your behavior in the marketplace? 
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord. – Colossians 3:23-24

1 42 Rules to Increase Sales Effectiveness, by Michael Griego, Super Star Press, 2009, 2013.

Categories: Discipleship, Jesus, Marketplace

Tags: , , ,

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