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“Ask for Faith, Then Live Up to It”

“Great salespeople, whatever their actual careers, have to position themselves as an expert and a friend,” Mark Stevens explained as we sat in the lobby of a hotel off Times Square last week, chatting about his latest book, God Is a Salesman. “Forget the word ‘sale’ and get into the process of knowing the person and letting them know you. If you can let go even just a little bit, people will begin to want you in their lives… and then they’ll start selling you.”

The book defines salesmanship as establishing a faith-based relationship between vendor and consumer, putting forward the vision behind the product; religion, Stevens points out, is one of the most powerful examples of promoting something that doesn’t exist materially, that can be communicated with passion but not simply handed off. But his examples aren’t confined to religion. “You have 100 teachers,” Stevens says. “You remember three. Those three were salespeople… So is anybody who has the power to synthesize information and sell you an idea—a writer, a musician. It’s an art… Business people should be artists. Isn’t Steve Jobs an artist?”


His fundamental principle is simple: “Ask people to have faith in you and then live up to it.”

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