Depending on the type of business you are in, and what service you may be providing, your Sales Teams will either experience a quite rapid or extremely long Sales Cycle. Selling sneakers in retail – extremely rapid sales cycle. Selling technology solutions into a Fortune 100 / 500 Company – EXTREMELY long sales cycle.
I have been involved in both, and no matter how long you have been in Sales or around Salespeople, it will always be more frustrating the longer the cycle lasts. Meetings to have meetings. Proposals to have proposals. Finance wants more data on the ROI. Marketing wants to use the Solution in a completely different way then the tool was developed to handle. The Director who has been driving the project leaves the company. Budgets are on hold until next year or “for right now” (which always seems to be the case and can never be truly known during ANY point in the process. But then – Something almost Magical happens – you experience what most people in sales dream of – Executive Buy In. This essentially is when the guy a the top, the guy who truly holds both the budget and the reigns directing the company's strategy says - “We are going with this and I want it implemented in the 3rd Qtr. All of a sudden, the meetings are fewer and more gets accomplished when they occur, Finance seems to be ok with the data that they have been given, Marketing seems to think the tool will give them exactly what they need TODAY, and the new Director that is assigned to the project is not only saddled up right beside you, but ensures a smooth transition from beginning to end. All because of Executive Buy-In.
Now – Ever try to share your Faith with a fellow co-worker, your high school friend, your neighbor, even someone in your family? I don't need to tell you how long that “sales cycle” is. Let me preface this with the understanding that I don't believe that we should refer to Discipleship, Witnessing, and Sharing your Faith as “Selling God,” but essentially you are trying to get people to “buy-in” to the fact that if they shift their focus to Christ, they would be better off in all areas of their life! Now for a little bit of Sales 101 when it comes to “Selling God.” Lesson 1 – You can't do it! You can't sell anyone, you can't create a big enough Marketing campaign, you can't position dollars and cents ROI and get anyone to buy into what you are selling! YOU can't do anything on your own – but God can use you in the process – and it is a process. It is a process of planting seeds...watering them...planting seeds...watering them.
The biggest relief is that God provides the most important – the Executive Buy-In. What is this Executive Buy-In? Any of us who have had the privilege of experiencing it will tell you that it is the Change in your heart, the realization that there is a God who loves you, who died for you, and wants an active relationship with you that occurs when you step out of the boat and trust the Lord, giving your “life's deed” over to him. "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My Statutes, and you shall keep My Judgments, and do them... Without Me you can do nothing.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27; John 15:5) You cannot change the heart of any man.
Max Lucado writes in his book The Applause of Heaven the following: “The jewel of joy is given to the impoverished spirits, not the affluent. God's delight is received upon surrender, not awarded upon conquest. The first step to joy is a plea for help, and acknowledgment of moral destitution, an admission of inward weakness. Those who taste God's presence have declared spiritual bankruptcy and are aware of their spiritual crisis. Their cupboards are bare. Their pockets are empty. Their options are gone. They have long since stopped demanding justice; they are pleading for mercy. They don't brag; they beg.” Do you honestly think for a minute that you can possibly orchestrate this change in in a man – on your terms? Of course not!
What can you do? Continue to be faithful and do what God says – Pray. Pray for true Executive Buy-In within the heart of the unsaved man. “Paul said, "We have not ceased to pray for you." James said, "Pray for one another." Samuel said, "As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you."
This does not mean that you should stop sharing your faith – this means that you should consider what your “praying to selling ratio” looks like. Are you praying for God to change their heart, or are you honing your selling skills to broker another deal between a man and God? Stop Selling and Start Praying. Let God move the “Heart Change Project” from Development to Successful Implementation. Trust me – God can shorten the Sales Cycle!