Question: Dave, I’m a salesperson and I’m a Christian. I feel really conflicted between the culture of the job and my commitment to Christ. Do you have any specific thoughts on how to be a Christian salesperson today?
Answer: Yes, I do. As you may or may not know, I’ve been a salesperson – and a sales trainer, sales consultant, and sales author – for almost all of my adult life. And, for most of that, I’ve been a born-again Christian. So, I’ve had ample opportunities to consider the ideas behind your question.
First, let me congratulate you for asking the question. I’m sure there are thousands of Christian salespeople who don’t have the courage to ask that question.
Examine Your Beliefs
Let me begin by suggesting that you examine your beliefs about the Kingdom of God and your position as a salesperson. Far too many people in your position feel a little embarrassed by their job, almost as if they should apologize to the church for being a salesperson on one hand, and hide their Christianity on the job on the other hand. It’s like you believe you are a second-class Christian because of your position.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only are you not a second-class Christian, but you have been given an incredible ministry of immense potential impact.
Salespeople are Crucial
Your position as a salesperson is crucial to the success of your company. Nothing sustainable can happen in a business until someone sells something, and you are one of those people who have shouldered the responsibility to do that. The typical salesperson supports four families within the business by the results of his/her efforts. So, economically, you are crucial.
In the long run, a career in sales is often a training ground for company executives. In my personal experience, more senior executives come out of the sales profession than any other discipline. I suspect that is because of the qualities of character that are built through the demands of effective sales. Self-discipline, customer sensitivity, great people skills, ability to continually learn and adapt – these are just a few of the important competencies that mark a professional salesperson and are important qualities for a senior executive.
Salespeople are often highly respected within an organization. I think most company workers sense a salesperson’s advanced skill set and recognize that they are more highly compensated than the average. Further, as you become excellent at your job, you’ll gain even greater visibility and impact with those around you.
Visibility, Respect, & Impact
So, from a worldly point of view, the position you have as a professional salesperson gives you more visibility, more respect, and more impact than most. And that is why it is such a powerful potential ministry. When you combine that with the multitudes of prospects and customers with whom you’ll interact over the years you can see why it is such a high-level ministry within the Kingdom. Probably no one you know has as much potential to impact people as you do.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Your job as a salesperson is one of those good works that God prepared, in advance, for you to do.
So, start there. You are a minister of business, created by God to fulfill the special ministry of professional sales – a powerful, high-potential ministry in the Kingdom of God. God wants you to become excellent in that position, and, whenever the opportunity presents itself, to give the glory to God. As you develop your Christian character and nurture the discipline of giving glory to God, people around will see the light of Christ in your demeanor, attitude and behavior, and naturally, be attracted to it.
Your Belief System
Once you fully incorporate that mindset into your belief system, you’ll find that it impacts all kinds of things in your life and your job. You’ll find yourself growing closer to God, as you gradually rely on Him more and more to guide you in your work. You’ll gain confidence and competence and naturally gravitate to becoming a master of your profession.
You may want to get my free download, The Christian Salesperson’s Manifesto, to help you solidify this belief.
As long as we are considering your beliefs and attitudes and how they impact your position, let’s continue that notion by focusing on a few other things that are more internal than external. If you are going to make the most of your position, you must first start on the inside, and work on those internal beliefs, paradigms, and attitudes that impact your behavior.
James Allen said, a long time ago:
“Men are often interested in improving their circumstance, but are unwilling to improve themselves, they therefore remain bound.”
In the next post, I’ll describe the sales strategies, processes, and practices that mark a Christian salesperson. In the balance of this post, let’s consider those things that come from inside of ourselves.
What other attitudes and beliefs should you nourish?
1. It goes without saying that you should have a commitment to Christ.
That is first, and it provides the power and perspective for everything else.
2. As with every other Christian, you should pursue Christian virtues.
Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, Christian love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1: 5 – 8
As you develop these characteristics, they become more and more obvious to your colleagues and customers, and provide you an opportunity to stand out and provide a godly example – you’ll be a light in the darkness, salt to the world.
3. Commit to respect for your employer and be a good employee.
There is something about the position of a field salesperson that encourages a ‘lone-wolf’ mentality. We too easily get full of ourselves and feel like we own the customers. We can become arrogant and independent.
That is a tendency for which we should be wary and squash it whenever it pops up in your psyche. Your employer gave you the opportunity, supplies you with the resources you need, and supports you financially and professionally. You reflect well on Christ when you discipline yourself to be a good employee.
4. Nurture deep respect for every prospect and customer.
In some sales positions, it is easy to think of your customers as people to take advantage of: To view every sales call as a win/lose proposition and to find and exploit their weaknesses for your own personal gain.
A Christian salesperson does not do that. Guided by the command to “Do onto others as you would have them do unto you,” Christian salespeople respect every individual with whom they interact. Sometimes that means not recommending the product or service you sell because it doesn’t fit the customer’s needs.
5. A commitment to ethical, and honest behavior in all situations.
A Christian salesperson never over-promises, exaggerates the impact of his product, or speaks badly about the competition, among other things. Integrity is both good business as well as good morals.
6. A commitment to excellence.
As you grow more and more effective at your job, the respect you gain from those around you – your colleagues, managers, and customers grows in equal proportion. Since you want to extend your Christian influence, you do that, in part, by becoming ever more excellent at your job.
Work on these attitudes and beliefs and you’ll gradually gain a Christian impact in the world in which you inhabit. That’s the first part of reflecting your Christianity on the job.
In part two of this post, I’ll describe the specific strategies and behaviors that you can implement that will reflect Christ and provide you with excellent results.