Ideas on a Blackberry by TNMM Editor

Mark Stevens, author of God is a Salesman, asks: If everyone is a salesperson how can you raise the bar on your performance, and, in turn, the rewards you reap? Mark Stevens, is very glad to speak with you today, thank you for your time. There are several things we want to talk with you about and one of the most exciting things is your new book coming out in January 2008, God is a Salesman. Could you share a bit with us about how the book came about? Sure! God is a Salesman with the subtitle Learn from The Master is a very respectful book of God and religion and it actually uses God and religion as it applies in actual life. I heard and read once, years ago, the biblical passage when Jesus says to Thomas, “You see me and you believe in me. Blessed are those who never see me and believe in me.” NULL Whatever God you worship and whatever religion you may be in, six billion people believe in a God they’ve never seen. They’ve never had an elevator speech from him or her. There is no product catalog. You believe in God through the most powerful force in the world. Nothing comes close to the power of God. As proof you see six billion people believing in God and they have no physical evidence of the kind we want for everything else in our lives that we believe in. I think that’s a great thing because it gives people faith.

They wouldn’t have faith if they didn’t have the ability to believe in a force greater than the human force.

So a thought came to my mind when I was hiking. I hike every weekend, by myself, with a friend or just with my dog, and I use it as thinking time. As soon as the thought of that passage came to mind I said to myself, “You know what? God is a salesman!” There’s great power and usefulness in that in how we work our business and our life. Selling products, selling services, selling our children on the idea that they should study rather than play, selling our friends when we encourage them to break a bad habit, etc. How do we do that? Instead of looking to the motivational speakers or the cookie-cutter sales programs why don’t we look at the most powerful force there is in the world, which is the belief in God, and utilize that? Wait a moment, you just made a jump. What do you mean “God is a salesman?” What I mean is that all the great religions of the world have prompted six billion of us to believe in a god. And they’ve done it without the Willie Loman, cookie-cutter, elevator speech, PowerPoint junk that people use to sell other things. Now I mean this in a very respectful way and I think it’s a great thing. I also think we can learn from it.

It really leads to the fact that the best selling of any kind is invisible selling.

Great sales people, and now we’re going back to the human kind, never look like they’re selling. They really don’t sell, they educate, they mentor, they inform and they guide. When somebody comes at us as a sales person we run the other way. When somebody comes at us as a guide, mentor or educator we embrace them. Most sales people do it the wrong way. They stick a product in your face and say, “I want to sell this thing to you.” But the smarter way to do that is to say I want to help you achieve something. I want to help you feel better. I want to help you look better. I want to help you be smarter. I want to help you have a better life and I want to show you how I can do that. It never looks like you’re selling. It’s invisible selling! I agree with you. A great sales person is an educator. And an honest one! You know, when I had that thought I wrote it into my Blackberry. I always write my books on a Blackberry, not a computer. And I sat down under a tree that I now call the God Tree at this wilderness reserve where I go hiking and started writing the book. I went under the tree and wrote every day for a year. There are a lot of experiences I’ve had where I’ve learned the power of faith. The power of faith is not recognized enough in business. People believe that faith belongs in a house of worship and not in business. That is so wrong!

The great way to do business is to utilize the power of faith.

Let me give you an example. The typical customer satisfaction questions that companies ask are, “Are you happy with our product? Would you buy it again? Would you recommend it to a friend?” On the surface that seems like the right way to approach learning about customer satisfaction. But I say no! Instead, ask your customers, whether you’re a sales person or a business,

“Do you have faith in us?”

If somebody has faith in you as a business they are going to buy from you! They are going to have a relationship with you! It’s going to be more than a transaction! And that is the thing that is so often lost when it comes to customer interaction. One of the things I talk about in the book is that your customers/clients should be treated like family members. That brings up a question for me. I have a friend who swears she can’t sell anything. And yet she has a very wide circle of influence, to the tune of more than a thousand people, who will take action on almost anything she mentions. I realize that this comes from her genuine passion and her authenticity in wanting to serve and share with others. She’s doing that thing you speak of, invisible selling. It’s even invisible to her! And as you were speaking I realized that there are a lot of people who simply have faith in her. So my question is, when you talk about the value of asking this question, do you recommend asking the question directly or asking questions that will reveal whether or not people have faith in you. Why beat around the bush? I say asked them directly if they have faith in you. You have faith or you don’t. It’s a surprising question. Let’s say a friend asked you that question. “Do you have faith in me?” You would have to think for a second. Having a rock solid relationship with people is a hard thing to achieve. A lot of quasi-friendships, superficial friendships don’t have that. And it’s a great measure of a business relationship because it morphs into something so much more than a business relationship. One of the examples I use is you’re out with a realtor to buy a home. All realtors have the same homes to sell.

I say in the book it’s the provider that counts not the product.

So the great realtors are the ones who realize that they are more important than the homes. Now, let’s say I like a house and you’re my realtor. I’ve told you I want to buy that house and you as my realtor say, “Mark, don’t buy that house, it’s not right for you” I’ll look at you and ask why you just talked yourself out of a commission. But you will sell me a different house because you’ve shown me that you really know and care about my interests. And that’s why you’re going to tell me about why I shouldn’t buy that house. Almost no realtor, and this is real and metaphorical, says don’t buy that house. And you gain so much credibility by reminding me why that house would not be the best deal for me.

That’s the way to live. It’s the way to do business.

One of my sons just called me from London where he is working. He’s 27 years old and I talk to him almost every single day of his life because I realize that he had to have faith in my as his father. He didn’t have to only ‘obey’ me; he had to have faith in me. I certainly wanted him to listen to me but I recognized that it was my responsibility that my children have faith in me and to know that I would always be there for them. There’s a little bit of selling in parenting. I work a lot! I don’t know the difference between work and not because it’s all one thing to me. That’s why when I’m hiking and I get an idea I sit under a tree and write a book. I don’t really know what it means to
have balance. I like joyful imbalance. And when I got married and we started having children my wife came to me and said she needed a break. She told me that on weekends I need to not work. Well, I knew I couldn’t not work and I didn’t want to hide the fact from her so I had to talk with her about what we all needed, my needs, her needs and the kid’s needs. And we worked it out. I got up early, before the family, and did my work and then spent the day with my children. I made a pact to spend every Saturday with them for the first 14 years of their lives, with a willingness to show them something they hadn’t seen before.


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