My young friend, one of the most competent, intelligent, and enthusiastic young ladies I know, told me that she could not sell. My first thought was, "Fooey! You could sell pain in a surgical ward."
My next thought was "Good! You are exactly what most sales organizations need."
You see, it is not that she could not sell. It is that she is unwilling to convince people to buy something they do not need or want - and that is a good thing - a very good thing.
She is willing to make friends, however. Everyone wants friends. Not everyone knows how to make friends. Once they have made friends, those are the people they are most likely to want to do business with once they have a need or a want.
This is the best model for evangelism and for business. I suspected that Guy Kawasaki was a believer when I first encountered his work for Apple Computer and his book on business "evangelism" years ago. His blog makes it clear where his commitments lie and he is unambiguous about his faith and its integration into his business life.
The truth of evangelism and sales is that if it is not good news, it isn't worth telling. And if you cannot first make a friend and demonstrate genuine caring for the person not as a "prospect," but as an individual made in the image of God, you have not earned the right to tell anything.
So, I find my friend's perspective refreshing and will continue to try and recruit her for business and for ministry - but only at her own pace and as she responds to God's calling in her life. She does occasion some meditation on my part about making friends for Jesus and for business (not that they are qualitatively the same - but strategically similar, principles being what they are).
Desire is the first key to making friends. We must desire to widen our sphere of influence and resources. If we can cultivate the desire to know people, we will be automatically motivated to make new friends. We must come to the place where we can say, "I'd really like to know you - not because I want to use you or sell something to you, but because just knowing you will add value to my life and give me the opportunity to do the same for you."
That kind of desire is pure and authentic. It is also based on reality.
Dignity is the underlying attitude we have toward people we meet. Their dignity is not dependent upon us giving it to them, but upon their essential natures as people made in the image of God, capable of responding to God by grace, through faith, and as the Holy Spirit draws them. We can make friends without ulterior motives if we determine that we are about to meet someone who can show us a dimension of God's character and love we have never noticed before. This will evoke extraordinary respect which cannot be manufactured or imitated.
Desperation is what we want to avoid at all cost. It is transparent and ugly. People can see through a frenzy of friend-making because there is a deadline coming. Relax. Enjoy this. Have a back-up plan. Replace desperation with diligence and make friends as a matter of course every day. Let your efforts be cumulative and natural. You are building a network of friends, not a file of prospects. Besides that, people don't want to be rushed to meet your goals and deadlines.
Define yourself. Do it loosely and tentatively. Make sure you put all the important things ahead of the temporal identities of the product or cause you are currently touting, but have that definition in place to. Be ready to answer the question, "What do you sell?" Be ready as well to answer, "What do you do for a living?" Reinforce your friendship agenda by not dwelling on your self-definition. Your new friend will either not forget or will ask you again if the need arises. You may go through many changes in your life, but friendships can endure through all of them if properly nurtured.
As part of this definition, are you convinced of the integrity and truthfulness of what you have to offer in business and ministry? Do you believe that your message will stand on its own? In Christian evangelism, it goes without saying and it is God's ability to convince hearts that makes "soul-winning" a lot easier than selling widgets sometimes. However, people know they need widgets and want to know that the widget and the "widgeter" are of high quality. That goes beyond self-definition to the definition of your product, message, or cause.
Be a friend and be a good one.
I have a friend who comes to my office every time he changes sales organizations or has a cause. I always welcome him because he is first and foremost, a friend and loosely defined as everything else - and yes, I have tried to recruit him too - so far, unsuccessfully.
Do it! Make a new friend today and cultivate that friendship. Get Bob Burg's material and learn to use it.
There is more to this subject than you have time to read or I to write, but hopefully, this will give you a start.
As for the young friend who inspired this article, she is really too busy and I love what she is already doing. If something in my briefcase makes sense for her, fine, but what I desire most for her is God's best.
And that is what friendship is all about.
More from Guy Kawasaki:
A little known story: When I was writing Selling the Dream—How to Promote Your Product, Company, or Idea—and Make a Difference Using Everyday Evangelism, I attended the Billy Graham School of Evangelism to learn from the best. It was a very interesting experience. Some of the finest speakers that I’ve seen (and tried to copy) were on a pulpit—not an operating system or music-player pulpit—but a church pulpit. MORE