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Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Vocational/Christian Sales Principles

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Christian Sales Principles
General Conference


Skill Level 2
Year of Introduction: 1956



1. Explain the responsibilities of a Christian salesperson as related to how they treat their customers and boss.

Christians strive to live according to the principles of the life of Christ and the Golden Rule.

When dealing with customers, a Christian is honest and forthright, not withholding information or misleading people simply to gain a sale. A Christian is not high pressure and will not try to intimidate people into purchasing a service or product from them. Rather, he is empathetic and understanding of the customer's concerns and needs. He knows his product and its benefits thoroughly and is able to answer questions competently and quickly in order to help his customer make the decision that will best serve him.

A Christian is courteous to his employer, and remembers that it is his place to serve. He will not cause strife in the work place and show angst toward his employer when talking with fellow employees or customers. A Christian will strive to put the best interest of the company at the forefront of his efforts by being professional and clean. He will discuss problems with the source and not spread rumors in the work place.

2. List the points in the steps of a sale.

Different authors have slightly different takes on the steps to a sale, but everyone agrees that they are something like this:

1. Product Knowledge How can you lead someone to buy your product unless you understand it? The complexity of the product will deturmine how much effort this step requires. Selling cars requires more knowledge than selling ice cold bottled water on a hot summer day at the beach.

2. Prospect for Leads

You will need to figure out a way to find potential customers. Internet searches, industry associations, mailing lists, lists of past customers and lists of people who have contacted your company for information as a result of advertising are all possibilities. Alternatively you might decide to place yourself in front of prospective customers at a trade show or go where the customers are looking for your product (like that beach on a hot summer day with bottled water).

3. Set an Appointment

It's time to use those leads you collected in stage 2. Many salespeople prefer to cold call over the phone, but you can also call in person, send email or even mail out sales letters. If you are positioning yourself where customers come to you, be sure to be there at the right time (when the sun is shining at the beach for example)

4. Qualify the Prospect

The sooner you qualify, the sooner you can decided if the prospect is a potential customer. Are they the decision maker? Do they influence the decision maker? Can they afford the product? Do they need the product? The qualification stage starts when you are prospecting for leads, continues during the setting of the appointment and wraps up when you are convinced the prospect is qualified.

5. Make Your Presentation

The presentation is the core of every sales cycle, and it's probably where you'll invest the most preparation time. Keep in mind that you're not just selling your product... you are also selling yourself! You represent your company, so appearance counts.

6. Address the Objections

Here's where you get to deal with your prospect's concerns. Often the prospect wants to buy but has doubts. Your job is to help them address the concerns and doubts themselves by providing information and asking questions of your own, not get into an argument. The concern you'll hear most often? “I have to think about it.”

7. Close the Sale

Once you've made your presentation and answered your prospect's questions and objections, it's time to ask for the sale. Instead of saying "So you want to buy this?" you might close the sale by asking indirect questions like "would you prefer the red one or the blue one?" or "Is regular shipping ok or do you need a faster delivery?". Some salespeople will start filling out the order form and ask questions like "what business name do you want on the order?" Remember, the prospect often wants you to help them buy. This is the second-most neglected stage of the sales cycle... which is especially sad given that it's probably the most critical one.

8. Ask for Referrals This is hands down the most commonly neglected step. Too many salespeople are so relieved to get a sale that they grab their things and race out the door the second they get the chance, for fear the prospect will change their mind!

3. Give a statement on how to meet objections.

Objections are often questions that just need to be answered. Ideally, you want to help the buyer answer his/her own questions and objections rather than answering the objections yourself. People believe their own voice more than someone else's.

Since this requirement calls for the Pathfinder to give their own statement, we suggest first studying a good book on sales principles like this one by Christian salesperson, speaker and author Zig Zigler. Now sadly no longer with us, Zigler explains how to sell in a humorous and memorable way.

4. How are the following points valuable to a salesperson?

a. Researching the market to see how an item or service will sell

Understanding the market requires research to understand what the market (the customers) need and want and how they are meeting these needs and wants. If you do not understand what alternatives the customer has to your product how can you differentiate between your product and other products they could buy instead? Each product or service must be positioned in the market (price, quality, quantity etc) and the product position should be reviewed regularly as the market changes over time.

b. Proper training and knowledge about the item or service to be sold

Proper knowledge and training helps in three major ways:

1. It streamlines the sales process. Having to call the plant or check the literature breaks up the sales call and costs valuable time. It is much easier to just answer a question immediately.

2. It builds trust. A properly trained salesperson who knows the product appears professional, knowledgeable and trustworthy - all good qualities that increase the comfort level in the buyer. Buyers prefer to deal with someone they can trust, even refusing to buy something they actually want if they don't trust the salesperson.

3. It prevents problems. Product misrepresentation can be costly for the buyer and can kill the company's representation. It can lead to legal battles and other undesirable consequences, all of which proper training and product knowledge can prevent.

c. A visit to the plant or home office that produces the item or service

Visiting the plant or home office helps the salesperson in several ways:

a) Helps them understand the product and the company better. Seeing something made (or service provided) helps the salesperson later explain the quality of the product, limitations of the product and capabilities of the business in general.

b) results in personal connections to key people at the plant/head office, connections that can be used later to get technical info, solve problems and generally provide better customer service

d. Follow-up visits with first-time customers

The sales cycle for most things does not complete with the sale. Followup ensures that the customer is satisfied, allows the salesperson to proactively fix any problems and collects valuable feedback. A followup call or visit also is a great time to see if the customer would like to buy more of the product (many customers place a small order at first as a test) and to ask for referrals.

5. Using actual or hypothetical education and experience, write a resume which could be used in applying for a job.

A resume is an important sales tool for selling a really important service - your time. You can start your research on writing a resume on Wikipedia.

6. Find out what education is most beneficial for a career in sales. What aspects of sales are available to a Christian salesperson?

For general sales a college course or degree in sales and marketing is good start. A Business Administration degree will also prepare you well for a sales career. For very technical products, some companies prefer trained engineers or other experts in the business.

Since you need to find out what education is beneficial, you need to do some research. You can start by exploring the courses offered by Andrews University School of Business Administration or another university near you.

A Christian salesperson can be involved in every aspect of sales including jobs like:

a) Inside Sales

b) Outside Sales

c) Sales Manager/VP Sales

d) Marketing jobs

e) Retail sales jobs

f) Traveling sales person

g) Working in a sales call center

h) Prospecting for leads or taking calls from interested people and closing the sales

i) Becoming an independent salesperson, such as a Realtor or Manufacturers Sales Representative

j) Commissioned or Salaried

However, Christians should avoid working selling products or services that go against Christian Principles and personal beliefs. Selling for a tobacco firm, winery or adult entertainment company would not be appropriate. Misrepresenting products or selling products that do not provide good value (like scams) is inappropriate. If in doubt, don't do it. A good test is - would Jesus approve? Will my mother approve? There are so many opportunities to sell products and services that people want and need and that will improve their lives there is just no reason to stoop to selling something harmful or that does not represent good value.

7. Do one of the following:

a. Help raise funds through sales of either services, merchandise, or tickets to a Pathfinder, AY Society, or school activity accounting for more than your proportionate share of the sales.

Selling something to your mom and barely doing your part is not enough to demonstrate your Christian Sales abilities. To earn the honor you should go beyond the minimum effort. Happy selling.

b. Earn money for yourself through the selling of merchandise or a service.

All businesses and professions involve some sort of selling. Without selling goods and services are not exchanged. You might earn money for school, some special treat, or just for living expenses. If you have the opportunity and are at least 16 consider joining the Magabook program in your area (contact your conference office). Here is some students experience.

8. Make a practice sales presentation to your counselor, teacher, or parent on the above item that you are selling.

Practicing the sales presentation - and getting constructive feedback on it - is one of the most important steps in the sales process. An effective, confident sales presentation will result in many more sales and a much more effective use of your selling time.

9. Interview a Christian salesperson and a Christian retailer regarding the following points:

Note this requires two interviews. This does not have to be a colporter, it can be any Christian in sales or retail sales. Ask around, many people are in sales and most sales people love to talk. Maybe a Realtor you know?

a. For the Salesperson:
i. Is a lot of traveling involved in the profession of selling?
ii. What other ways does the job of a salesperson affect family life?
iii. How are sales people paid?
iv. What opportunities for advancement are there in sales?
v. What does the future hold for a career in sales?
vi. How do you get customers?
vii. What do you like the most about your job? The least?
viii. Does being a Christian make a difference in the way you do your job?

b. For the Retailer:
i. What type of education and training is helpful for a retail sales career?
ii. What advancement opportunities are available in retail sales?
iii. When you place an order, which do you rely on most, service of the sales person, price, market characteristics, or the quality of the product?
iv. What do you do when a customer complains about an error he thinks your store has made when he is actually the one at fault?
v. Does being a Christian make a difference in the way you run your store?
vi. What do you like the most about your job? The least?