I sat waiting for my flight at an airport gate when I overheard a phone conversation. It was one of those conversation that was loud enough and close enough you can’t not hear it. Sitting across from me was a sales lady for some (likely start up) company training a new hire on how to make cold calls to prospectives. They were trying to role play.

“No, stop stop stop.” The trainer would interrupt. “You’re doing it wrong. You have to get to the point quickly. If you ever want to succeed in sales you will have to be more aggressive.”

I could picture the timid new hire on the other end of the phone cowering under this aggressive sales trainer.

I wanted to tap her on the shoulder and ask her how successful she had been.

Not how much had she sold, but how happy were her customers? Did they call her regularly to tell her how much they loved the product? Were they so glad that this aggressive pitch came their way, otherwise they never would have ended up with such a great product?

I doubt it.

When you rush someone into a sale, you don’t build lasting relationships and remarkably satisfied customers. The customer is more likely to have buyer’s remorse. Even if the product is useful and did everything the pushy sales person said it would do (unlikely), you as the customer still aren’t satisfied since you didn’t make the decision — it was forced on you.

About a year ago, I had a salesman in my house explaining to me an upgrade I needed that would cost a couple thousand dollars. The problem was valid, and I think his solution was effective. He pulled out various sales tactics — offering me a discount if I ordered today and saying he could get me a “floor model” unit for half price but he only had one left. “Think about the safety of your kids,” as my four year-old rolls trains around our living room. Looking back I realize how good he was.

Except he wasn’t. I agreed to buy from him in the moment, but the next morning I called in to cancel the order. Once I had time that evening to think, do more research about the problem, products and solutions, I realized there were better options for us.

He lost a sale, because he didn’t allow me to make a decision. Let me wrestle with the facts, think through alternatives, consider the implications.

The more you have to convince me, the less I know I want it. I know now that my answer to pushy sales people is, “If you can’t give me the time I need to consider your sale, than I don’t want it.” Essentially, a “now or never” pitch, means never.

The more you need to convince me, discount me, or pull on my emotions, the less compelling your product is. Good products don’t require a pitch, gimmicks or pressure.

The same is true for Jesus.

Does wrapping the message of Jesus up as a sales pitch with a hard sell at the end lead to lifelong worshipers and disciples? I am skeptical.

Because the best things don’t need a hard sell.

Oh yes, please share the story. Tell the compelling narrative of a prodigal son returning home to his father. Tell me about the Shepherd seeking out a lost sheep — leaving the ninety-nine behind to find the one. Tell me about a grace that not only overcomes my sin and failure, but God himself would bear my sin.

The story is compelling enough. Jesus is enough.

 

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