|The most successful business today isn’t part of the Fortune 500. With more than four billion customers, many people don’t realize that it’s a business at all, says bestselling author and business maverick Mark Stevens. |
When Stevens refers to the world’s best business, he’s actually talking about the world’s great religions. In his new book, God is a Salesman, Stevens reveals what religion and spiritual practices can teach about business, sales, and customer relations. “Over millennia,” he explains, “the world’s great religions have not only endured, they’ve flourished. Why? Because faith, trust, loyalty and a 100% guarantee hold deep meaning for us. These critical elements of religion represent promises that we can count on for our future.” They are also the principles that the best salespeople use day-in and day-out. Great salespeople never look like they are selling anything. They are educating, instilling faith and confidence. They are quietly and invisibly demonstrating why customers should believe in them and, in turn, buy from them.
Stevens, who is CEO of the global management and marketing firm MSCO, helps companies like Nike, Starwood, GE, and Siemens develop innovative, out-of-the-box business and marketing strategies.
According to Stevens, “God is a salesman, because He is an influencer, an educator, and a force that enables us to bridge the gap between what we see and what well may be a greater truth.” And that is the role that all first-class salespeople should embrace. They must quietly and invisibly demonstrate why customers should believe in them, and in turn buy from them.
God Treats Everyone Like Family
Stevens’ philosophy begins with the recognition that God treats everyone as family. “Think of how important and powerful this is,” he writes. “The wise salesperson will learn from The Master and relate to customers and prospects as virtual family members as opposed to strangers, targets, or marks to be sold.” This is not only the basis for being a great salesperson, but the pillar for creating a great company as well. Building a business around members of the family, instead of the standard transactional view of serving customers, creates lifelong loyalty.
People Buy Trust Before They Buy Products
According to Stevens, just as people trust in God, they need to trust the men and women they buy from. And that means being a salesperson who is willing to give of himself or herself, not just a person who shows up to make a transaction. Stevens says, “If customers and prospects are sold on you, everything else will follow. If they trust you, they will buy from you. If they don’t, you will walk away empty handed, no matter how cool or elegant your product may be.”
It’s Not The Product That Sells, It’s The Provider
It’s often difficult to distinguish the products one person is selling from a competitor’s, whether it’s corn, copiers, cars, or accounting services. “With so many offerings to select from, customers want and expect an extra dimension, and in every case that should be YOU, the salesperson,” Stevens says. People have faith in their religions because they have faith in God. In other words, they believe in the product, because they trust the provider.
God Makes Guarantees
“The scriptures advise that we can have absolute faith in God and that He will return that faith with a bulletproof assurance that His force will be with us,” writes Stevens. But most salespeople are afraid to make absolute guarantees. This is a mistake. “When you sell, you must be unequivocal about what that product or service will deliver. You must assure clients that you will always be there to serve their needs, address problems, and handle emergencies,” he insists. This is what all great salespeople do.
Throughout the book, Stevens uses anecdotes about his own experiences and tries to give specific advice that readers can implement immediately. He explains why great salesmen are expert story-tellers; why most sales presentations fail; and why trying to win sales by underbidding the competition is a loser’s game.
His goal is to help people rise above the standards of traditional selling to create an experience that benefits both the seller and the buyer.