What? Jesus was not a salesman! We give Jesus the title of Savior, Lord, Messiah, friend, but salesman? At first glance, it’s hard to find a scripture reference for this in the Bible anywhere.Although as a businessman myself, I can’t help but see Jesus as the ultimate salesman. He sold something people not only wanted, but also needed. The only difference is He’s not selling a product, but rather Himself.
Without the help of social media, webinars, or even the local newspaper Jesus built relationships with people everywhere He went. People were captivated because he spoke to them based on their needs. It seems only appropriate that we dive into the sales model Jesus executed so well. After all, the Bible is the top-selling book of all time and Jesus is still being talked about 2,000 years after His death!
Jesus’s Sales Model
In the business world, the goal of selling has always been to figure out the best way to get in front of our customers, figure out their needs, telling them about our incredible products, and then get the purchase order! As I’ve read through the Bible, I see similar stages Jesus went through in order to draw in engagement from His “customers”.
In Luke 5:3-5, Jesus first connects with Simon by going out to his boat (his place of work) while he was washing his nets.
Next, Jesus asks him to push the boat out further in the water so He can teach content to the people from the boat. It's important to note that he didn’t just preach from the land to the fishermen, instead He began by connecting to who they are and what they were doing.
Finally at the end, Jesus goes in for the close. Knowing about their very difficult night of fishing, He was bold and asked them to, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” This was obviously a very challenging comment, since they hadn’t caught anything the night before.Yet, they did it anyway and very quickly their nets were overflowing and even breaking because they had so many fish!
If Jesus had just yelled at them from the beach to throw down their nets they might have just laughed him off. However, since Jesus had spent time connecting with them, they gave Him the benefit of the doubt.
Breaking it Down: The 3 C’s of Selling
The very first part of an effective sales call is to connect. This is where the relationship starts to build as you ask questions about their family, where they went to college, and the picture on their desk. Most sales people can handle this part easily. However, the key to this connection time is about the quality of questions you ask and your ability to truly listen to their needs. This in turn will allow you to better define your customer’s needs as the conversation continues.
The next part is content. Now that you have a clearer understanding of your customer's needs you can position your products and services accordingly. Instead of showing the customer everything your company does and overwhelming them with information they don’t necessarily need, you only talk about the items they are concerned about today. This way you are addressing their needs and major hot buttons, demonstrating to them your competency, and genuine concern to meet them where they are at.
The last part of the call is the close. We all want the purchase order, but quite frankly, some are better than others at getting it. More than likely the top sales person has a greater level of confidence to ask for the order, but more than likely they also took the correct building blocks to get to that point.
Pitfalls of the 3 C’s
If the 3 C’s aren’t performed in the proper order or aren’t effectively executed, there are some potential pitfalls which may occur. Knowing these beforehand will help you not fall into these traps.
Connection and Content: But No Close
In this scenario, the sales person sets up the call, delivers great content, but leaves without asking the customer for the order or spec. You see this a lot with salespeople who are friends with their customers. They are too afraid to ask for the order and assume “they will give me the order when they have it” or “we get all their business.” You also see this with individuals who are too timid to ask for the order perhaps because of low confidence or fear of making the customer mad or uncomfortable. Either way, it's an opportunity is lost.
Connection and Close: But No Content
This will catch up to you when the customer realizes you are not providing technical value, but rather just a “brochure delivery person” dropping off literature. You must provide value to the customer to separate yourself from the competition and to create interest which will keep them asking for more.
Content and Close: But No Connection
This is the “show up and throw up” model. It is very common for salespeople who are not confident in their product knowledge or consultative skills to go straight to delivering the brochure, presentation or speech they have prepared. So naturally, when they go to close they are not effective. They have not built trust or relationship, nor asked questions to help solve the customer's problems. Building relationship remains the foundation of it all.
So, are you beginning to see how Jesus is our ultimate guide even in the world of business and sales? I have used his model in my business and seen significant impact. I am able to better connect to my customers, meet them where they are at, and then close the sale.
By reflecting on each of the 3 C's, I’ve noticed where my strengths and weaknesses lie. This has helped me improve as a salesman and I would challenge you to do the same. In addition, if you have any direct reports, I would encourage you to evaluate each of them based on the 3 C’s to determine where they can grow as well.
It’s time we start selling like the greatest salesman of all time!