Monday, 24 January 2011

God Is a Salesman

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I picked up this little book the other day in a discount bookstore.  Intrigued by the title, God Is a Salesman, I started thumbing through it and came across this thought-provoking passage:

Success in life and the ability to sell are inexorably bound. Whether you are moving Chevies off a showroom floor, inspiring others to achieve a goal, or spreading your philosophy on how best to engage in real estate investing, you have to sell. You have to educate. You have to influence.

It was enough to get me to buy the book. The author, Mark Stevens, is not only a fervent believer in God, he is also a very successful marketer who has learned to sell by emulating The Master. He writes: “When I say God is a salesman, I mean an influencer, an educator, and a force that enables us to bridge the gap between what we see and what may well be the greater truth.”

When I finished reading the book, I realized that we are all salesmen and are always selling something. As a writer, I am constantly selling my ideas to publishers, selling my books after they’ve been published, selling my knowledge, intelligence, and experience. That is the essential activity in a free society based on free enterprise. In a communist society, salesmanship is not needed. It is forbidden. You are told what to do and where to work, and are paid the government’s set wage.

Under capitalism, we must sell ourselves when we apply for a job. We get an education in order to make ourselves salable. The more salable the better. Our aim is to earn money by offering our services to others so that we can support ourselves. And in a free society we have the choice of earning money by doing something we enjoy. That requires ingenuity and creativity. Indeed, the fuel of invention is the desire to produce something new of great value that will make us rich.

The ability of the author of this small book to combine God’s standards with human salesmanship is quite a feat. This is the first book on salesmanship that I have found enlightening and instructive, because Stevens elevates the whole concept of selling above the mundane view we have which equates salesman with huckster. In other words, Stevens affirms that the salesman must have vision and the ability to convey the true value of what he is selling.

The author tells of the day he spent with Bill Gates at Microsoft, before Gates had become a household name:

He waxed poetic about an ideal encapsulated in a vision. His goal of seeing a computer on every desk in every home and office….There is a genuine analogy here to religion, which sells us the ability to have meaning in our lives.

He also asked Gates if he thought much about money. The answer was sharp:

Thinking a lot about money is the best way to make sure you never earn a great deal of it. Far wiser to focus on a passion, on something powerful you can do to change peoples’ lives. I have always believed that the money will then follow.

Profitable advice for young entrepreneurs.

Even the concept of the guarantee is based on the guarantee that God will return our faith with His eternal love and protection. That is a guarantee that the salesman must emulate when selling his service or product. In other words, our guarantee must be real and not conditional. Stevens writes further:

As we seek to learn from The Master, we should think of why He is adored. It has nothing to do with a product or service, it is because we believe God is great, loving, accepting, generous, and moral. None of these attributes are flashy, trendy, exotic, or expensive. Quite the opposite, they represent the staff of life, simple goodness and inner beauty that is so rare in our world that when we see it we are awed by it.

Since selling is the central economic, social, and spiritual activity in a capitalist society, it is worth noting that God has played a crucial role in the development of our modern American civilization. It is that spiritual underpinning that permits human beings to engage in economic activities that require trust, honesty, and integrity. Before the word capitalism was invented, the free-market system was called the ”credit system,” whereby entrepreneurs borrowed money to finance their businesses and paid the money back. It could also have been called the “trust system,” because that’s what it was all about.

Indeed, the foundation of the free-market system is the concept of private property. That is why we have a Patent Office, to ensure the private property rights of inventors. The aim of the Fabian Socialists was the abolition of private property. Today, we have a federal government that is gobbling up more and more property in the West, depriving citizens of the productive use of land and resources that can build our prosperity.

The Democrats didn’t even try to sell us their national healthcare program. They simply rammed it through a Democratic Congress despite overwhelming public opposition. You should not sell anything with lies. By lying you are admitting that what you are selling is either of no value or is indeed harmful.

You cannot sell what will harm your customer, unless you lie about it. The Democrats were not emulating The Master in selling national healthcare. Socialists are not salesmen. They are imposers. That is why the message in Mark Stevens’ book is so important. Salesmanship requires honesty. It requires truth. And a government that lies to its citizens is a destructive force.

The policies and philosophy of the liberals are in conflict with the principles of a free-market economy, which requires honest salesmanship. The liberals have been trying to sell us socialism and slavery, which the American people are not buying. Indeed, it is up to Americans to rediscover the importance of honest salesmanship in all aspects of our lives, including government, based on the principles of The Master salesman in all of history.