The Christian and the Sales Pitch

(SeanO) #1

Let’s say you are working for a company that sells a product - could be smartphone, food, bikes - anything is fine. The company is putting together a sales pitch for the product and you are on the committee.

The goal is to pitch the idea to supervisors. The rest of the committee makes it sounds like this product will revolutionize the world - because that is how you sell things. But you realize that it is just a phone, food stuff, bike - not a world shattering device.

As a Christian, what do we make of a sales pitch? Is it honest? Is it just a cultural way of communicating? What is a sales pitch for the Christian?

(Melvin Greene) #2

Another great topic, @SeanO!

We obviously live in a world of hype. We see advertisements all the time making fantastic claims. We hear all the time claims that if you purchase our product you will look younger, be the envy of all your friends, be successful; and the list goes on and on. You also hear the message, “Hey, I’m worth it. I deserve it.” The marketers seem to be saying that if you don’t buy our product, it would be an infringement on your right to be happy.

Trying to share the gospel in a society that is inundated with these messages can be very challenging in deed. I think we have to be very careful with how we present the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. I think Christians can get caught up with the marketing philosophies we see today. What comes to my mind is the so called “prosperity gospel” that was typified by the tele-evangelists. I remember one such evangelist saying that if you would send in $10 to the ministry, God would bless you tenfold.

So, as a Christian, I believe that we should “test the spirits” when it comes to sales pitches. I remember taking the Core Module a few years ago, and one of the instructors was teaching about recognizing logical fallacies. He challenged us to watch commercials and try to pick out the logical fallacies that are used. I found that very enlightening. I believe there is some truth in advertising, but I think it is greatly exaggerated. For example, I’ve used a certain shoe insert. They do reduce foot pain, however it doesn’t feel like I’m walking on pillows. Obviously, advertisers use a lot of hyperbole.

I believe that as a society that is drowning in sales pitches, we have become a bit jaded when we hear truth claims. We want to see instantaneous results. We want to see definitive proof of the truth claim before we buy into it.

I believe that as Christians, our presentation of the gospel, our sales pitch, should be manifold in delivery. Verbally, we can present the gospel on different levels such as, historical, philosophical and existential. Visually, by putting belief into action. We must live our lives that reflect what we verbalize. I think of commercials of SUVs. They have a still shot of the vehicle while the narrator tells you what a good deal it is and how nice it looks, and then they show action footage of the vehicle driving through creeks and over rocks as the narrator tells us how rugged and tough it is. We must be the same way.

(SeanO) #3

Great points @Melvin_Greene! Per your last paragraph about SUVs, in a way, we are living invitations for others to come to Christ through our joy and love. Good stuff!

(Phillip Walter Coetzee) #4

I think @SeanO that people should just be careful of promoting a car that you can go dive with if that isn’t what the car was made for. To hype up a product must have certain boundaries otherwise they would start to advertise falsely. What do you think?

(SeanO) #5

@Phillip Yes - the shady car salesman has certainly crossed the boundary into flat out lying. So I think that is clearly not having ‘honest weights’ as Proverbs would say.

But I feel like visionaries - especially in the tech world in which I work - tend to sell their ideas bigger than life in the hope that it will be - but there not really certain that will be the case.

And I guess I am pondering the distinction between the visionary who is uncertain and the shady car salesman who knows for a fact the car is a dud. But they both sell it as if its something great.

Does the uncertainty of the visionary put them in a different category than the shady car salesman? If so, in what way?

What would the sales pitch of a visionary Christian in the tech industry look like and would it be significantly different from a non-Christian version of the same thing?

(Jimmy Sellers) #6

How about this for a sales pitch. HappyFace is offering a free service that will keep you in touch with your friends and family. Everyone likes it but HappyFace can’t figure out how to make any money until it dawns on them that “you” (the user) are the product and if they track your habits they can tailor content to persuade you to buy useless products and services. Is this an oversight on the part of the “visionary” or is it just a high tech version of highway robbery? As an aside for a fee we will opt you out.
I think that sales is the second oldest profession in the world and that we all are selling something either “soap” or “hope”. Be weary of the sale pitch that sells “hope” wrapped in “soap”.
As a way of explanation the term “Soap” is a nod to early radio programing where Soap companies sponsored radio programs. We still call certain TV programs today "Soap Operas"

(SeanO) #7

@Jimmy_Sellers Soap operas are certainly selling something destructive as something entertaining…

(Phillip Walter Coetzee) #8

It should absolutely be a reflection of what the product is actually about. Honest weights I think walks hand in hand with objectivity. Oftentimes because of favoritism people will enhance certain qualities in favour of preference and ignore the bad ones. This I believe is bearing false witness, because your client is only told half of the story and is persuaded into buying a product that is not nearly as good as this person has insisted it is.
I think it also violates the “love thy neighbor” law. The reason being a mentality of “getting the product out to make the sale” instead of, “catering to the needs of the customer”.
It is unethical at the end of the day, we must be honest, even painfully honest and mindful also to avoid a kind of pessimism towards the products.

(Helen Tan) #9

Hi Sean,

What you raised and what has been said so far brought me to the Bible verses which talk about weights as I think they pertain to the area of business. God is concerned as to how we, His children, conduct ourselves in business as we are living letters to those around us. The fact that He’s serious is reflected in these passages:

Deuteronomy 25:13-16:

You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a large and a small. You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. You shall have a full and just weight; you shall have a full and just measure, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you. For all who do such things, all who behave unrighteously, are an abomination to the Lord your God.

Micah 6:10-14

Is there yet a man in the wicked house, Along with treasures of wickedness And a short measure that is cursed? Can I justify wicked scales and a bag of deceptive weights? For the rich men of the city are full of violence, her residents speak lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth. So also I will make you sick, striking you down, desolating you because of your sins. You will eat, but you will not be satisfied, and your vileness will be in your midst. You will try to remove for safekeeping, but you will not preserve anything, And what you do preserve I will give to the sword.

Proverbs 16:11

A just balance and scales belong to the LORD; All the weights of the bag are His concern.

Proverbs 20:10

Differing weights and differing measures, Both of them are abominable to the LORD.

As can be seen, God takes our word in business very seriously. What do we do when we’re selling/marketing a product? I think that we have to examine what’s truly in our heart as we sell a product. If there is a point at which we know for sure that the product will not perform the way a genuine customer would need it to, we need to be honest in our sales pitches. I’ve often thought about how refreshing it always is to meet an honest marketing person. I’m thinking too that when we are that honest marketing person that God will bless all that we put our hands to or place us in a job where we can obey Him unapologetically.

(SeanO) #10

@Helen_Tan Amen!

(Natasha Morton) #11

I am actually a sales rep (for a wholesale office machine company) for over 18 years. We get all these sales help pitches etc to use, but to be honest, I’ve found, even before I was a Christian, honesty is the best way. I will be up front and tell a customer if the item isn’t the best. I will steer them away if I think it’s not worth the money or down sale them when the upgrade isn’t worth the extra (often the case).
This has actually helped me to increase business and my integrity with customers (and allows me the opportunity to earn their trust in discussing other things, like my faith - if someone will lie to you for something as small and insignificant as to what gas mileage a car gets etc, then what else would they lie about).
In my opinion, in particular for the Christian, there is no ‘sales pitch’. We are called to be truthful. I’ve always said I’d rather go to sleep at night with a clean conscience rather than an extra $5. There are people I work with that I know have done some shady deals, all for the sake of extra money. The problem is, does that person come back to them once the realization of the bad deal is there. And if so, in most cases you must do more ‘pitching / lying’ to sooth the customer in whatever problem they are having to deal with. You know, it seems to be a lot less work to just be honest!

(SeanO) #12

@natasha.morton Yes, your post reminds me of the old saying ‘oh what tangled webs we weave when we practice to deceive’

(Carson Weitnauer) #13

I agree with the Biblical commitment to integrity. These need to shape our imagination, our hearts, and give us courage to stand for what is right.

Another angle: part of the challenge is that sometimes the hype is real. For instance, some quotes from when Steve Jobs introduced the original iPhone in 2007:

Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything … Apple has been very fortunate. It’s been able to introduce a few of these into the world. In 1984, we introduced the Macintosh. It didn’t just change Apple; it changed the whole computer industry. In 2001, we introduced the first iPod. It didn’t just change the way we all listen to music; it changed the entire music industry. Well, today, we are introducing three revolutionary products of this class.

Today, we’re introducing three revolutionary products. The first one is a widescreen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough internet communications device. So, three things: a widescreen iPod with touch controls; a revolutionary mobile phone; and a breakthrough internet communications device. An iPod, a phone, and an internet communicator. An iPod, a phone–are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. This is one device, and we are calling it … iPhone.

Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone.

Looking back on it ten years later, Steve didn’t fully understand how revolutionary the iPhone would be. He couldn’t yet see all the second- and third-order implications the iPhone would have for industrial design, social connectivity, the app economy, etc. etc.

So, to take another angle, I think we also need to consider what promises are we making. Do we have a rational basis for them? Is our intent pure? And, from an external perspective, are we communicating in a believable manner? These are some of the factors by which we either establish a reputation for being trustworthy - or not.

(Natasha Morton) #14

I think that’s a great point @CarsonWeitnauer. Purity of intentions is a really big consideration, and I think that lends itself to being sure we know what we are talking about, to the best of our abilities, before we speak - through research, reading, prayer, etc. The Bible has many verses regarding watching what we say.

Also, something that popped in my head while reading this post - While I understand we can’t always know the outcome, much like Steve Jobs in your article, I that that’s something we owe each other - that we do our utmost for not only the purity of intention, but the wisdom to simply say we do not have an answer, or not “hyping” anything up. Too many times I think we feel ashamed to say we either do not have the answer for fear of feeling inferior or ignorant, there’s nothing wrong with it.

This to me is the heart of apologetic approach in that our intentions must be honest and true- otherwise we lose our footing with the person and possibly a great deal more.

(Jessica Henkaline) #15

Wow, while I understand the concept of “selling”/persuading for the truth of the faith, people are not “buying” Christ. It reminds me of Acts 8:20-21 where Peter rebukes Simon the magician who thought he could “obtain the gift of God with money…your heart is not right before God.”

We’re not selling a product but sharing a relationship. Lol, we aren’t Jesus’ mail order bride. I have recognized when I’ve tried to “sell” the gospel because I didn’t take the time to ask questions & help them see how their specific needs connect to God.

God is the answer to every need. We aren’t selling Him. We can demonstrate what a life looks like in relationship to him, pray, & help them understand their need by the power of the Holy Spirit, waiting for them to decide if they want Him. God is worthy.

It is only by His grace that anyone can “buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, & white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.” Rev. 3:18.

(Jimmy Sellers) #16

This is a method of sales that does not depend on hype.

In industrial/commercial sales we look for opportunity to solve industrial/commercial problems.

  1. Needs: Do you have any problem(s)?
  2. Interest: Do you have any interest in solving your problem(s)?
  3. Money: Do you have the money to solve the problem(s)?
  4. Time: Do you have the time to solve the problem(s)?
  5. Commitment: Will you, can you commit to a solution to solve your problem?
  6. Present: The solution is… (product or service)
  7. Close: Give time to reflect on solution and allow for a change of mind.

In life we look for opportunity to solve life problems.

  1. Needs: Do you have any problem(s)? Life issues
  2. Interest: Do you have any interest in solving your problem(s)? Is it possible?
  3. Money: You don’t need money for this solution.
  4. Time: Do you have the time to solve the problem(s)? Is it urgent?
  5. Commitment: Will you, can you commit to a solution to solve your problem? Will you need to consult with another person or will this be your decision?
  6. Present: The solution is… The Gospel.
  7. Close: Give time to reflect on solution and allow for a change of mind. Consider the cost.

I hope you see the parallel. There are business problems and life problems both can me addressed with a similar process and without the hype. Both can be rewarding. One with temporal and the other with eternal. :grinning:

(SeanO) #17

@Jessica_Henkaline Amen!

(SeanO) #18

@Jimmy_Sellers It is amazing how wisdom gained in the world can be applied to understanding how to share Christ and present Christ to those who are contextually located in the world.

I especially like how you highlighted that, while there are similarities, the Gospel is free and cost nothing for those who come.

Isaiah 55:1 - “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”