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VOL. 127 | NO. 84 | Monday, April 30, 2012

Chris Crouch

Going From Preaching To Prospecting?

By Chris Crouch

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Two of the most successful sales professionals I have encountered had one thing in common – they were both ordained ministers before they pursued careers in professional sales.

In one case, the former pastor of a small country church generated millions in revenues, and millions in personal commissions, in a single year. Being a curious person, I asked the super-selling reverend to tell me about the secret to his success. I not only wanted to know how he did it, I wanted to know how he made it look so easy. He said, “Come on over to the house tonight, we’ll have supper and I’ll tell you all about it.” For those of you not from the Deep South, “supper” typically refers to the evening meal. A meal that is usually served well before the sun goes down and long before anyone should be eating an evening meal.

After an enjoyable meal, the reverend ushered me into his den and pulled out a book titled “Pastoral Counseling” by Seward Hiltner. As it turned out, it was the book that helped him make the millions in sales. He explained that as pastor of a small church, he frequently had to deal with the worst of human experiences – death, divorce, abuse and other forms of human conflict and drama. Therefore, many ordained ministers spend a lot of time learning about something called pastoral counseling. And pastoral counseling teaches you that the first order of business in dealing with situations where emotions are heightened is to reduce stress.

For example, it is difficult to get people to communicate effectively when they are in a stressful state of mind. So, pastoral counseling teaches you to postpone trying to solve any problems until you have spent time reducing stress and getting everyone involved in the discussion in a more comfortable, relaxed state of mind. Hiltner’s book was full of ideas on how to do just that. One of the ideas emphasized the importance of “staying present and in the moment” if you are the counselor. Here is a quote from page 44 of the book (which I still have because he gave it to me):

“The minute a counselor becomes more interested in something else, like a general truth, a moral principle, or next Sunday’s sermon, than he is in the parishioner, the counseling begins to go off the track.”

A current version of such a book would probably advise you to, “Ignore your cell phone when meeting with a parishioner.” Anyhow, Reverend Stay-in-the-Moment told me that he simply incorporated all the ideas from the pastoral counseling book into his approach to sales. He made people very comfortable and relaxed with him long before trying to sell them anything. After learning this, it became fascinating to watch him work. He was a master at reducing stress, building trust and putting people at ease. The bottom line – you might want to listen to and observe preachers a little closer if you want to be a better closer.

Chris Crouch is CEO of DME Training and Consulting and author of several books on improving productivity. Contact him through www.dmetraining.com.

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