Disclaimer: This episode isn’t a podcast to convince listeners to become Christians. This episode simply highlights how Jesus Christ persuaded people, an important trait in sales.
There are so many individuals who have been great persuaders throughout history. This new series, The Best Sellers in History, will be a game-changer for salespeople of today. The best persuaders in history were people who could prompt others to take action and move toward a better way of life. Great salespeople who know they are guides for prospects and clients make great B2B sales reps. With the exception of social media, the way communication works in sales today is historically similar. This eight-episode series will begin with Jesus Christ, whose existence has been proven by history.
It’s the perfect time of year to put Jesus Christ in the spotlight. Today is Christmas, a day where people celebrate Jesus’ birth. In his time, he was referred to as Jesus of Nazareth, the common way people were referred to. Men were known by their name and the place they were from. Donald would have been known as Donald of West Palm Beach.
Jesus was a preacher, a rabbi or teacher, and a leader. Today, to Christians around the world, he is the Son of God and the Savior of all mankind.
Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and after his baptism, he began his ministry. Most of his preaching and teaching weren’t done in Synagogues but in the countryside where most people lived.
Jesus was teaching people they could repent, turn their lives around and return to God. His teachings were based on love. Jesus opened the path for many to know eternal life. People were astounded by his teachings and followed him. He was changing the minds of common people and undermining the wayward teachings of the Pharisees. Because of this, Jesus faced opposition from the leaders of the day.
This conflict, and the outcry of many Jewish people, eventually led to his death by the hands of Roman soldiers.
While he died long ago, his teachings did not die with him. His words became so influential, to this day, one-third of the world’s population is associated with Christianity. By far, it is the largest religious group. There are seven reasons why Jesus was so persuasive and Donald is going to expand on each to show how they can be applied in B2B selling, even today.
Jesus is the first The Best Sellers in History character. The first reason for Jesus’ persuasiveness was his ability to empathize and build rapport with the people he talked to.
Jesus made the time to sit down with common people, who made up the largest portion of the population, as they do today. He talked to people who were marginalized by society and could relate to them. During his time, Romans had the power and ruled over many territories. They hired people to collect taxes from the citizens, including Jewish people, and this money funded the Roman empire. Because the work is done by tax collectors they were not approved of by the communities they lived in. At public gatherings, they were not welcomed to be among everyone else. As a result, they became marginalized citizens.
The status put upon tax collectors didn’t keep Jesus from them. Jesus sat down with them and had dinner with them.
One of these tax collectors even became one of Jesus’ disciples. His name was Matthew. Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector from Jericho. He was a wealthy man but hated by many. When Jesus went to Jericho, people flooded the town and swarmed him. Being a short man, Zacchaeus climbed a tree to see Jesus. Jesus noticed and asked the man to come down so he could be a guest at Zacchaeus’ house, unheard of during this time. He also showed sympathy toward Levi, another tax collector and the son of Alphaeus. Jesus saw him at his booth, invited Levi to follow him, and he did.
People didn’t understand these actions but Jesus shared that a physician comes to heal the sick, not the healthy. In the same way, Jesus was spending time with people who needed his help the most. He went out of his way to help the poor and heal the sick.
Jesus wanted to make an impact by modeling how he wanted people to treat one another.
As a B2B sales rep, how do you show your clients and prospects you empathize with their needs? Set yourself apart from others by taking the time to understand where they are coming from. Identify their pain points and tailor your message to their specific issues.
An example of how a salesperson can distinguish himself or herself can be illustrated by two sales reps who want a nursing home to be a new client. Sales rep A sens a generic email to the chief administrator that says he can help them save more money. This same message, however, has been sent by many salespeople and it gets lost among the others. Sales rep b, on the other hand, has spent time reading trade magazines and learning about the industry. This sales rep sends a personalized message that talks about the losses the administrator may face when the new Medicare starts cutting back and what it is going to cost them. Sales rep B also talks about how their company has crafted a new service that could benefit the nursing home despite the cutback.
In this case, sales rep B will surely get the deal because they have discovered a problem and are providing a solution. While it takes more time and effort to learn about your prospect or client by listening to their needs and hearing about their challenges, it will help you craft a more personalized message. In the sales training program, we call this a deliverance message. Share with your prospects the challenges they didn’t know they could face. These are called blindside challenges. Distinguish yourself among other salespeople by studying, being prepared, listening, and offering a solution.
Another way you can show empathy and create value is by writing a blog post or creating content that’s related to the challenges your prospects are facing. When a potential client feels understood, sees you’ve done the work, and you’re building rapport through your efforts, you’ll find prospects are going to pick up the phone to talk to you.
The second reason for Jesus’ persuasiveness was his storytelling ability. In one instance there was a lawyer in the crowd where Jesus was preaching and the lawyer wanted to trap Jesus. He asked Jesus how to receive eternal life, one of Jesus’ core messages. In response, Jesus replied with a question about what was written in the law. In reply, the lawyer replied that the law states that one should love the Lord with all his heart, his soul, and strength. One also has to love his neighbor as he loves himself. He then asked Jesus who he should consider his neighbor and Jesus shared the story of the Good Samaritan.
This story talks about a man robbed and attacked on a countryside road. There were several people who walked past him and didn’t help him, including a priest, a Levite, and the good Samaritan. The first two men just passed by. The priest crossed to the other side of the road as did the Levite. It was the good Samaritan who took the injured man and tended to his wounds, brought him to an inn and told the innkeeper to take care of the man, paying for all the expenses. All the people who ignored the man were his people but it was the Samaritan who showed compassion and saved him. By sharing this story, Jesus was able to illustrate the actions of a neighbor. The story that Jesus told was relatable and the people listening understood the point he was trying to make.
Selling to highly educated professionals, like doctors, can be unnerving. They can ask a question that may be out of your scope of expertise. You can navigate their questions by sharing a story. Understand the purpose of the question and solve their problem through a story that promotes rapport. Ask a clarifying question and share a story that’s similar to your clients’ situation or problem and share how that problem was solved. Stories are a great persuasive tool.
Jesus was skilled in promoting hope for the future. The people already knew the prophecy of the Messiah who would come and save mankind. The Messiah would deliver them from their enemies and the tyrannical rule of the Roman empire.
People believed in Jesus because he fulfilled the prophecies laid out in scripture. When Jesus came and preached to people listened to hear his message of hope.
As a sales rep, it’s your responsibility to understand a prospect’s pain, their struggles, and their challenges. As you get to know them and learn more about their needs, you have the opportunity and then to offer hope and solutions through the products and services you have to offer.
For example, if you are selling digital marketing services, you may discover that a prospect’s website is not functioning effectively. It’s your job to convey to this potential client how you can help make their website work faster and appear on the first page of a Google search. Approach the client with the knowledge of their struggle and offer a vision of a better future by working with you.
Jesus treated women with care in a time when women didn’t have much value in society. Women were separated from men in public and religious life. They were not allowed to participate in public prayers but they were encouraged to pray privately. In contrast, Jesus showed immense respect for women.
An example of Jesus’ compassion toward women was illustrated in the story of the Canaanite woman who yelled after Jesus to help her daughter. Jesus showed compassion to the woman, a gentile, and helped her after hearing her great faith. This was unheard of during Jesus’ time.
There are many examples in the Bible where Jesus pushed the boundaries of the status quo to create change.
In sales, we can experience the status quo and many industries can get stuck in these familiar patterns. In many instances, the most daunting competitor isn’t another sales rep but your client’s comfort with the existing routine inside their organization.
As salespeople, we have to face the status quo head-on. It would be easy to ignore the need for change. Very few people are willing to break the norm and face being rejected by society. Sometimes, even when we know that our prospect is doing something wrong and their system doesn’t work in their best interest, it can be tempting to stay silent in order to avoid conflict.
For example, Donald joined a sales training program with David Sandler about how to challenge the status quo. In that training, Donald learned that you can overcome the status quo by using off-the-record conversation. When things are dying down and everyone’s starting to relax, hit up your prospect with your suggestions. Tell your prospects about the problems that you have found in their system and back it up with proof. Creating this margin allows prospects space to really see what you’re trying to point out. The conversation may be bold but sometimes it takes boldness to get people to change. Push against the status quo and don’t be afraid.
Jesus knew how to listen to people and it became another tool in building rapport. Let’s go back to the story of the woman who was bothering Jesus and asking for help. The lady was persistent despite the disciples’ efforts to turn her away. Jesus listened to her and heard her troubles. Throughout his ministry, Jesus listened to the people and showed up to teach. He tuned in to their stories and showed mercy and compassion.
As a salesperson, you can imitate Jesus by listening intently to your prospects. The act of listening comes in many forms. For example, you can listen through a phone conversation, or by reading LinkedIn posts and seeing what’s going on under someone’s profile. You can also listen by going through reports, annual filing, and quarterly earnings.
When you’re listening, don’t let your mind roam. Focus on what they’re saying instead of thinking of what you can say next. Listen for opportunities to ask a clarifying question that leads to a value-rich conversation.
If a prospect is trying to decline your offer because it’s not a good time, instead of just giving up or trying to force your own solution, try listening to what’s between the lines and figure out what the prospect is really saying. Ask why it isn’t a good time for them and get closer to finding out what the core of the objection really is.
Jesus was skilled in asking for effective and clarifying questions. When the lawyer wanted to trap Jesus, instead of answering his question, Jesus asked a question in return. In sales, sometimes you don’t have to give your prospects the answers right away. Alternatively, additional questions may be needed.
When you hear “I’m not interested” you don’t have to take that at face value and end the conversation there. Ask them questions and let them talk. Your ability to ask questions can help you become successful in sales. In every objection you face, there is potential to learn more and get closer to helping your client find a solution.
The last reason why Jesus was persuasive was his ability to ask people to do hard things. Jesus began gathering his disciples early on in his ministry. Some of his first were Peter, James, and John, who were all fishermen. Jesus told them to leave their livelihood and invited them to become fishers of men. His invitation was a much bigger vision than they had ever seen for themselves.
Peter, James, and John recognized that Jesus was the Messiah and they gladly left their lives behind to follow Jesus. More would soon follow.
When salespeople ask clients to use their products or services, you are inviting change to take place. You can successfully do this when you ask the right question, are a good storyteller, and when you show empathy.
Never assume a potential client is going to come to the conclusion to work with you on their You are their guide to finding solutions through your products and services. Always be proactive, ask for the change, and be prepared to show them the action steps.
Jesus showed us how to be persuasive in order to offer a better way of life. Do the same for your clients.
Selling is not complicated but you have to have a strong foundation. Learning fundamental practices and implementing them will offer potential clients hope for positive change based on what you have to offer.
Watch out for the next episode in this series.
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Donald is the host of the popular sales podcast,"The Sales Evangelist". He is the founder of The Sales Evangelist Consulting Firm where he helps small companies develop killer sales process to scale their business and increase growth.Donald is also an award-winning speaker, sales trainer, and coach. He's a big fan of traveling, South Florida staycations and high-quality family time. Donald has a belief that “anyone” can sell if they have the desire and receives the proper training.