The Reputation of a Salesman
The only real asset the producer has at the point of sale and negotiation is the personality of his salesman. Or, the reputation of his salesman.
– Wisdom and Dominion, Gary North
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Welcome to Episode 87 of Axe to the Root Podcast, part of the War Room Productions, I am Bo Marinov, and for the next 30 minutes I want to pick up a topic again that we discussed about two years ago: namely, sales. If you remember, in our episode, “Sales from a Biblical Perspective,” I presented the thesis that sales are not only a legitimate part of the economy, they are actually one of the most important parts of the economy. Why is that? let’s look at a short answer before we continue with the important topic: the underlying issue is this: Is the economy driven by the objective needs of the consumers, or is it driven by the entrepreneurship, innovation, and productivity of the producers? If it is driven by the objective needs of the consumers, then there would be no need for salesmen: everyone knows what they need, they just go out and try to find it. The problem with this, however, is that it can’t explain why the economy grows. Why are people buying so many things they have no direct need for? People have survived without electricity for centuries; how come, all of a sudden, everyone “needs” it? How come everyone today “needs” a cell phone? After all, some of us older people didn’t even know we “needed” one for decades. If needs are objective, how is it that most of what we think we “need” today hasn’t been around for centuries, and everyone survived?
The answer is, of course that our “needs” are not real objective needs. They are subjective desires the moment we learn what is possible out there. And then, in our hearts, we transform them into “needs.” When we learn that it is possible to have ceiling fans, we now “need” them. When we learn that it’s possible to have air-conditioning, we now “need” that one, too. When we learned that it was possible to have mobile phones, we started “needing” them, too. When it became possible for mobile phones to connect to the internet in every place, we started “needing” that internet connection, too. (I personally resisted that “need” for some time, but I also succumbed to it, eventually.) If you are around my age (48) or older, you have surely been asked by your children or grandchildren, “How did you all live without Internet, or without cell phones, or without computers, or without [you fill the blank]?” From our perspective, of course, life was normal, and we had no need for all these things. I mean, it is nice to have them around because they make our life easier, but they are certainly not indispensable. A “need,” therefore, is not objective reality; it is psychological conditioning. And that psychological conditioning doesn’t need any skillful psychological techniques. All it needs is break the news to the consumers about new stuff on the market. Next thing you know, the market develops a “need” for it.
That’s where salesmen come in. They are the middle men who break that news. They are the ones who inform the buying public about the new possibilities offered by the producers. Von Mises pointed out that on the market, information is the most valuable commodity. The right information gives you the opportunity to make the right the decisions and thus become more efficient. Salesmen are the agent for spreading that information. In a sense, they are democratizing it, making it cheap and available to everyone. Or, if you want to use a Biblical word, think of salesmen as the “evangelists” of the business world. They bring some sort of “good news” to their customers: “There’s a way to make your life easier at a lower price.” I know, I know, we all hate salesmen, especially those that appear at our door, but hate them or not, the truth is, all of the improvements in our homes and lives that make them better and more comfortable than homes and lives 200 years ago have come to us because some salesman many years ago decided to overcome his fear of knocking on people’s doors, and brought the good news of this or that improvement, for the scanty probability of making a few bucks on a sale. So, hate them as much as you want, but respect their work. It’s hard work.
Anyway, after having established the legitimacy – in fact, the necessity – of salesmen in a Biblical economy, I was asked the question: “How does a salesman establish and build his reputation?” It’s a question of enormous significance. After all, a salesman is not sitting in some office communicating primarily with his co-workers and his boss. A salesman is supposed to be out there communicating with those who make the decision to buy: the customers. As he is out there with the customers, he himself, his person, is the face of his company. His product may be the greatest product ever, it may be at the perfect price, and it might turn out to be the most profitable purchase his customers may make, but to all these factors, one more factor must be added before there is a purchase: the reputation of the salesman. Because, let’s be honest, all the other factors are only potentials for the future; they can’t be tested until the purchase is made and the customer is in a position to use the product. So the only real asset the producer has at the point of sale and negotiation is the personality of his salesman. Or, the reputation of his salesman.
The question is great, and we know need to think of this: what makes the reputation of a salesman? And we need to think about it in a Biblical manner, from a Biblical worldview. We need to make sure that whatever presuppositions we place at the foundation of our view, need to be Biblical presuppositions. I am not saying that a salesman is supposed to go around reciting Biblical verses or singing psalms. (Although, as a curious fact, some time ago some pastor responded to one of my articles that what we need is not more people in the marketplace with a Biblical worldview, but more psalm-singers. Once we had all offices packed up with psalm-singers who sing the psalms every day, Christian business is going to flourish. You can’t make this stuff up, I tell ya.) But a salesman, especially a Christian salesman, is under obligation to understand the only worldview that can guarantee success, and apply that worldview to his job. And when he applies it, his reputation will grow. “Keep and do these commandments, because they are your wisdom and understanding in the sight of the nations” (Deut. 4:6).
So, what is it that builds the reputation of a salesman from the perspective of the Biblical worldview?
We need to start from the beginning, from the complete picture. Without knowing the whole picture, a salesman is lost, even if he is the most skillful salesman ever. So, first, he needs to have a comprehensive view of the world around him and of its economic needs in God’s plan. I know, I know, this sounds kinda of too excessive. A salesman surely doesn’t have to be a philosopher or a theologian? No, not any more than anyone else. But he still should understand the world in its bigger picture – like anyone else should. Without such understanding of the world, we are left without any guidance as to where our place is, and, in fact, without any standard whatsoever about a place, even. Many of the problems in our society today are due to the fact that the majority of Americans have been taught a fragmented view of reality. And I don’t mean just that they were taught such fragmented view of reality in their government schools. It is everywhere. They were taught such a view in their families, in their churches, on their FOX News or CNN or MSN TV channels (whichever was constantly on in their homes), in their cinema theaters, on their commercials, etc. Americans today go about their business informed by an eclectic mish-mash of ideas, and they are capable sometimes of saying things that are, in their logic, inconsistent with themselves, without even stopping for a second to consider how deeply self-contradicting they are. (Think about the modern “conservative” views on immigration, or the modern leftist views on police and gun-control laws.) A salesman, however, if he is to build a long-term reputation, can’t afford to have a fragmented view of reality; he has to demonstrate consistency in his understanding, especially in his understanding of how his work and his products relate to the society and the economy in general. And if he is a Christian, he has to demonstrate consistency with the Biblical worldview, and especially with the Dominion Covenant.
This is easier to say theoretically, but what does it imply in practice? What would it mean to have a comprehensive worldview? It means this (listen carefully): A salesman is supposed to know what products he should sell, and what products he should avoid attaching his name to. Let me repeat it: A salesman is supposed to know what products he should sell, and what products he should avoid attaching his name to. It doesn’t look much on the surface; and many salesmen don’t stop to think much about it. But if you are a Christian and you are looking to have a long-term career in sales, you need to make sure you always understand that the nature of the product you are selling is not morally neutral. And not only if you are looking to have a long-term career in sales; but also if you are looking to start a business in the future. Or engage in activism. Or anything that would involve your personal reputation.
There are products that a righteous salesman shouldn’t be selling in the first place, no matter how attractive the pay is. Now, when you hear that, your first thought is, “drugs.” That’s because your brain was conditioned by statist propaganda. If you are a Southern Baptist, your thought is, “tobacco and alcohol.” Or may be you are thinking, “guns.” Or other goods like that which our society considers not goods but “evils.” Now, these could be “evils” in certain circumstances, and we will cover that part, but they are not what I have in mind here. What I mean is that a salesman needs to start from the Dominion Covenant and consider, for every product he is asked to sell, “Does selling this product help expand the dominion of mankind, or does it work against it?” The answer is not always easy, and sometimes it takes sometime to figure it out. I must say, personally, I have not been a good example; I have taken up to sell things that now, looking back, I shouldn’t have. And that was mainly because I was still not aware of all these principles I am talking about here.
The answer is not always easy in every single case, but some guidelines can help all of us. From the perspective of the Dominion Covenant, what is good and wholesome and healthy to produce and sell is what increases the economic worth of the buyers or the consumers. Whatever decreases it, should be avoided. And when I say “increase the economic worth,” this doesn’t mean that it necessarily makes them richer in money; we are rather focused on overall productivity here. It can be used to satisfy legitimate personal needs and desires so that the person can be more productive tomorrow. Food, beverages (even alcoholic ones), medicines, a house, household appliances, furniture, chemicals, clothes, art, entertainment (most of it, with some exceptions), computers and computer programs – all these are lawful and legitimate, and should be a lawful target for a good salesman to sell. Industrial materials for their production, machines, engineering and engineering solutions, science – all these are also lawful. Services as well: banking, education, consultation in many areas, legal services, maintenance, etc. No need to cover all the possible areas; in our world today, with the gigantic division of labor and the development of technologies, there are thousands goods and services that make real contribution to the prosperity of modern man, and are therefore lawful to sell. The question is: “What are those that are not lawful to sell?” Not that they are not legal to sell, but what are those that are not lawful, under a Biblical worldview informed by the Dominion Covenant, to sell?
Of course, we can start with some obvious examples: recreation drugs. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe they should be illegal, nor do I believe the government has a Biblical mandate to control such commerce or penalize people for what they put in their bodies. But whether taking recreational drugs is a crime or not, it is still sin: it is a deliberate attempt at twisting the reality of the mind and escaping the reality of God’s created world. Why using them recreationally (not talking medically) is sin, is not the topic of this episode. But whether you agree that they are sin or not, one thing is sure: habitual use of drugs and addiction to them makes a person incapable of fulfilling the Dominion Covenant. Or, at the very least, it handicaps him. A salesman who cares about his reputation would stay away from them – even if they were legal to sell.
Another example is Ponzi schemes of different sorts. I had a friend many years ago, he and I graduated at the same time from the Naval Academy. He was a very well-spoken guy and his ability to persuade people was much greater than mine. However, when we met several years after we graduated, he was selling “shares” in one of those Ponzi schemes that were so common in Eastern Europe after the fall of Communism; people in Eastern Europe didn’t know anything about such schemes and were falling for them, thinking these were “investments.” Eventually, they all failed, and my friend was left with a reputation of having worked for one of those schemes. Ponzi schemes don’t produce new economic value. What they produce is fraud and re-distribution of wealth from the gullible to the fraudsters. In this, I would include the multiple government programs that are nothing less than Ponzi schemes financed by taxpayers. Stay away from Obamacare, even if it promises good return to the salesman. Stay away from selling war bonds, treasury bonds, etc. stay away from selling consumer debt – like credit cards. These do not work for the Dominion Covenant but against it.
Ever driven down the freeway and seen a billboard that advertises a lawyer who offers “divorce in 5 minutes”? I hate those. But my personal emotion is not what is important. I know divorce is an inevitable part of life after the fall, and I know that there are legitimate and lawful reasons for divorce, even when for Christians. But divorce in 5 minutes? Divorce that takes less time to do than decide your order in a restaurant? Divorce should be a long process where the husband and the wife go through a painful but needed reassessment of their relationship and only take the step after much agony and considerations. And even then, their lawyer, for the sake of his own soul, must make sure he is not being an accomplice in sin by offering a fast and easy way out. Offering quick and easy divorce is certainly against the principles in the Bible, that much should be clear. In this case, given that the billboard company is the “salesman,” or the advertiser, their willingness to supply the space is an example of selling the wrong product.
Another example could be working for those spam calling companies we all are plagued by these days. I have used some of those calls to talk to the boys and girls hired by these companies, trying to explain to them why they have taken a job that is immoral, and will eventually waste their time. Another example would be working in any capacity as a salesman or PR or promoter for government services that are immoral by default – like the prison-industrial complex, or the surveillance agencies. It would only be lawful for a Christian salesman to work for these if his purpose is to get inside information and expose them to the public, like Edward Snowden, or the way the multiple sources that supply information to Wikileaks. Working for the gambling industry, or for businesses that sell sinful behavior (like strip clubs) is out of question. Etc. While my examples are by no means exhaustive, the principle must still be obvious: anything that adds economic or psychological or spiritual value to the society is worth selling. Anything that destroys value or worth should be avoided.
The second thing a salesman needs to have in order to build his reputation is understanding of purpose. And I am not talking about the general philosophical concept of purpose here, as in the teleology of the universe, the overall purpose and direction of the universe. I am talking about the specific teleology, the meaning of life, the reason for existence of the individual man. If you have listened to Axe to the Root so far, and if you have read Christendom Restored.com, you know how important it is for a Christian to understand the concept of individual purpose and to apply it. In fact, I believe any church that does not self-consciously work to arm every individual believer with the ability to discover his individual purpose under God’s Covenant, any church that just boils the Christian life to impersonal generalities like “attend church every Sunday and just be a good man,” is a church that has doomed itself to extinction. A family that is not organized around a common purpose – ministry or business or something else – is a family that will have a lot of difficulties staying together, even if the spouses are the most faithful Christians you can find. When Paul was mentoring Timothy, he didn’t just tell him to live a good life and go to church. He reminded him of the specific prophecy concerning Timothy’s individual ministry and purpose, and told him to always remember that. Jesus didn’t just keep His disciples around to teach them general theology and good life; He taught them their individual purpose in His kingdom. If there is such a thing as discipleship in the Bible, it has more to do with the individual purpose of the disciples, not with some general notions of how to live a Christian life. Living a Christian life is important, and ethical boundaries are important, but without a knowledge about one’s individual purpose, about the specific corner of the Garden a person is expected to take ownership of and turn it into a city, ethical boundaries and general principles mean nothing.
A salesman works with people. People are his field of work. Himself first, of course. And then his clients. So before he starts his work, he needs to understand his own individual purpose in life, and thus choose what products he wants to sell. It may be Biblically lawful to sell a product, but it may not be wise and advisable for the specific situation and the specific purpose of the salesman himself. Many years ago, when I was a missionary in Bulgaria, I also worked as a salesman for different companies (including Procter & Gamble, for example). I once saw a job ad that looked quite promising so I went to the information meeting to find out what it was about. At the meeting, I found out that the leadership of the company was all my old pals from the Naval Academy, and that had I applied, I would certainly get the job. It was good fixed salary plus generous commissions plus new company car plus vacation. The only problem was, it was a beer company. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am the last person on the planet who would tell you selling beer is wrong. The problem was, I had a higher calling – my mission work – and taking up a job like this would jeopardize my reputation with Christians and churches in Bulgaria who, at the time, were still quite pietistic and looked down on businesses selling beer. (The situation has changed over the last 20 years.) So I had to withdraw my application. There is always a higher calling, and my area of sales must agree with it. Otherwise, in the long term, a salesman will lose his reputation and he won’t be able to pursue his higher calling.
But then, the same applies to his customers. I have often seen successful salesmen who brag that they could “sell refrigerators to Eskimos.” Perhaps they could. But if I was an employer, I would certainly not hire such a person. To my mind, such a person is bragging that they don’t give the smallest Indian coin – a dam – about the specific individual circumstances and purpose of their customers. They would sell them even things that would not benefit them, and would not benefit their well-being. Such salesmen have not taken seriously their job as being servants and mediators between the producer and the customer. They have assumed the position of manipulators and users. Having such a person on the field selling your product will guarantee that he will go not where your product is mostly needed – serving the purpose of your target market – but to those most vulnerable to his manipulation techniques. In the long term, the reputation of the salesman will suffer, and the reputation of his company as well.
In the United States, nowhere has this truth been more obvious than in the business of credit cards and mortgages. Credit cards originally developed as a means of safer and faster transactions – as opposed to carrying a bunch of paper bills in your wallet – and were mainly sold to richer people, those who could afford to pay and normally had means high enough to not worry about living beyond their means. Eventually, salesmen expanded their target to individuals and families who had no such high means, but were eager to have a credit card. The lure of being able to pay for anything you want, even if you didn’t have the means for it, eventually led to the enslavement of millions of Americans to consumer debt. This will eventually lead to a backlash against the credit card companies; and in fact, there is evidence that such backlash has already started: the younger generations are much less open to have credit cards and accumulate consumer debt than their parents.
In general, the rule is the same as in the first principle: do not sell to people anything that will cripple their ability to be productive and do their part of the Dominion Covenant. Try to understand the situation of your customer. See if your product helps them in their individual purpose in life. If it doesn’t, stay away from a sale. They may still insist to buy from you, and if so, your responsibility is to be honest and explain that the product may not work for them as intended, in their particular situation. Only then you can sell. But in general, keep your integrity by being a servant, not a manipulator.
Once a salesman is mindful of the first two rules – one, have a comprehensive view and know what is lawful to sell, and two, have an understanding of purpose and know in what situations and circumstances he should push his product and in what not – he is also under obligation to obey the general ethical rules of the market. What is the most common violation of ethics on the market? It’s fraud. It is so common, most buyers are automatically prepared to deal with it in just a casual way. And so common that most sellers instinctively engage in it without even realizing it. Thus, the market rule that has also become a legal rule in our modern world, is caveat emptor, that is, “let the buyer be aware.” That is, it is the buyer’s responsibility to make sure that the product or property he is buying will really be fit for the ordinary purposes he wants it. In most court cases where the seller has been challenged for the unfitness of his product, the seller won, and the buyer was left to pick up the tab. Proving fraud in business transactions is very difficult under our legal system today, so every seller is just assured that he doesn’t have to be careful when he advertises his product, and every buyer is just instinctively aware of the fact that the seller may be lying.
Now, I am not saying that the laws should be changed to force every seller to full disclosure under the threat of liability. Such laws could never be enforced anyway; there are limits that God has put on government, and such laws are outside the governments’ power to enforce. But the legality of an issue I snot the same as the ethics of it. And a righteous salesman who is concerned about his reputation long-term will always make sure that he is a servant, which means, he will always make sure that he offers his customers as much disclosure as they need in order to get informed about his product. Again, a salesman is not legally obligated to disclose everything. But he has a moral duty before God to do it. Caveat emptor may be the legal rule of the state. Servanthood must be the salesman ethical rule.
A salesman, therefore, is under duty to get informed about the customer’s specific needs before the customer is informed about the product. Now, many salesmen do that anyway, but in most cases, the goal is to get information about what sales points he could use to make the sale. (I am ashamed to say, at least part of Procter & Gamble’s sales training was committed to such techniques. Not all of it, but at least part.) I have seen some comical situations in this regard. For example, a supermarket owner who was concerned about aesthetics: how different products will look in terms of color arrangement on his shelves. So the salesman went into a long explanation why his brands of detergents, softeners, and shampoos had the best color combination for such shelves. He ended up selling the least popular brands on his list, the ones that moved the worst in the local market. The buyer never called again. In his zeal to move his least movable products, the salesman ended up losing a customer.
The principle applies to everything, and, as I said, it is casually violated by almost everyone in our market today. Our American universities are perhaps some of the worst offenders, offering courses and degrees that eventually make no sense on the market. True enough, we do need good teaching on philosophy, on the humanitarian disciplines, etc., but no university really tells the prospective students, “this specific degree is not really worth its money on today’s market, you better re-direct your efforts into business, engineering, science, or communications, where the cost is worth it.” It is for this reason we have such a problem with student debt today, coupled with the problem of severe discrepancy between the specialties needed on the market and the degrees universities are producing in droves. You want to know why tech and engineering companies are forced to hire abroad or to outsource? You want to know why a simple house repair costs so much? That’s where the problem is. Eventually, younger people are beginning to see through the smoke and mirrors and increasingly decide to not spend their money on higher education. Of course, the buyer should always be aware, but it is also true that universities have a moral duty to present the realistic worth of their education.
And so is every salesman. Present the realistic worth of your product, not what you believe will make your prospective customers make the purchase. Try to figure out what the customer needs it for. If you figure your product may not be the best fit, say it. He may still want to buy it, but you have done your duty.
The next principle is related to the previous one: make sure both you and your customer gain from the transaction, not just you. Or, to make it short, don’t be greedy. My brother-in-law, who was a very successful businessman for two decades before he passed away, used to say to both his customers and his suppliers, “If we get poorer, let’s get poorer together. If we get richer, let’s get richer together.” And he stuck to that principle all his productive life.
Now, there is no Biblical law against making the maximum profit possible from your business. “All that the traffic can bear” is the motto of most salesmen and businessmen, and there is nothing wrong with such motto, as it is. But there is an important ethical difference: It is one thing to try to get the maximum value for your product. It a another ballgame altogether to take advantage of your customers’ ignorance to get out of them more than the market’s alternatives are. It is on you, before God, to make sure that your customer leaves your office with a better value than he would leave anyone else’s office – or at least the same value. Remember the movie Flywheel. Ignore the many technical problems with that movie, and perhaps the few theological problems. The movie taught this important ethical principle. Jay Austin was in the right business (used cars) in the right community (rather low-income), and was selling the right cars to the right people. Except that, he was overcharging them, taking advantage of their lack of information. Not that it was illegal or anything; but it was immoral, for he was using his more powerful position (better information) to manipulate them. Eventually, it all resulted in almost bankruptcy. In the final account, he decided to make things right with the people he overcharged. The final scene was a battle between his old reputation (based on overcharging customers) and his new reputation (based on him reimbursing his customers for what he had overcharged them). The principle of getting richer together is not a principle that should be handily dismissed.
A company I used to work for exemplified that principle quite well. Destin FL, where I lived for a couple of years, is known as one of the richest places in the nation; businesses can afford to sell at higher prices there. However, the company I worked for – a plumbing supply company – kept its prices as low as possible to maintain the same rate of profit as anywhere else. It was a small family-owned company which had been able to stand its ground for half a century against larger competitors by just being mindful of the alternatives, and refusing to become greedy in a market full of temptations.
A righteous and ethical salesman, therefore, will be aware not only of what the customers need for their purposes, but also of the alternatives they can find, and will work to make sure that they are not robbed of a better deal, if the market allows it. Again, not that he is legally obligated to do it; but his reputation won’t be based on his legality but on his ethics. Indeed, the easier spread of information is forcing companies to adopt such ethics; think of those commercials where companies announce that if you bring them a proof for lower price for the same product at their competitors, they will sell it to you at the lower price. Eventually, the market forces you to be ethical or die out. So a good salesman still needs to be aware of that ethical principle and always avoid the temptation of greed. There shouldn’t be a government law against trying to get the maximum price for your product, but the Bible still warns us that “He who withholds grain, the people will curse him, but blessing will be on the head of him who sells it” (Prov. 11:26).
And the last principle is view towards the future. Sounds like a no-brainer, but there it is, salesmen tend to be some of the most short-sighted and short-term-oriented people on the planet. (And all professional salesmen here say, “Amen.”) It’s in the very nature and psychology of the work of a salesman: your success is measured by whether you make that sale today. The psychology is so strong that some of us salesmen can’t even look at ourselves in the mirror if we don’t meet that sales target for the week, even though, in the majority of the cases, it is not our fault. You go to work the next Monday and you feel terrible when your name is not there on the board as someone who has met their sales targets. So that encourages you to become even more short-term-oriented and this week really meet that target no matter what, no holds barred. Eventually you feel compelled to take actions that you normally won’t take, and start telling your customers things that you normally wouldn’t say, just to manipulate them to buy. The world of sales is a tough world, and it has its tough challenges, and very few are morally strong enough to stand the pressure.
What is the solution to this? The solution is to remember that there is such a thing as “future.” And in the future, you as a salesman will have to meet those prospective customers again. Your success with them will depend not on one single sale but on building a relationship of trust. Sometimes it means longer time. Sometimes it means that you won’t meet your arbitrary goals. Sometimes it means that you will have to suffer humiliation in your office or – most of the time – in your own mind. Your heart of a servant should be more concerned with establishing those relationships than with exploiting people. The idea that customers exist only to help you meet your goals amounts to objectification of other human beings. They do not exist to serve you. You are there to serve them.
Objectification is never a good basis for establishing long-term reputation. Think of a sex-offender. While we may questions some of the methods of the modern state to isolate known sex-offenders, one thing is clear: once you have committed the crime, you need to carry the consequences of your damaged reputation. People won’t trust you. They won’t let you near their kids. You will feel awkward in their company knowing that, in their minds, they always assess and re-assess every single one of your reactions to things. Once you are known to objectify human beings for your lusts and purposes, that reputation will haunt you for the rest of your life. The same applies to salesmen. If you care about your reputation you have to care about the future. If you care about the future, you can’t afford to view your customers like walking ATMs. Back in the 1990s, such objectification of the customer was part of the sales colleges of many of the large corporations. We were taught techniques that amounted to pure manipulation. (Employees were objectified just as much as the customers, so it was a principle across the board.) Only in the late 1990s and the early 2000s did the business world start realizing that is strategy did not work long-term. Then, after 2005, small local companies started using the advantages of the Internet to challenge the market shares of the giants, and they did it by offering that personal relationship that the giants lacked, that is only capable of establishing long-term trust. I was told recently that the sales college at Procter & Gamble had changed significantly since the 1990s, and it much more personal and relation-oriented than before, and that the manipulation techniques have been erased from the course. That’s good.
To summarize, a salesman reputation must be always based on the Dominion Covenant. A salesman is a mediator, and as a mediator, he is supposed to understand both sides and serve both sides. To do this successfully, he needs to have, first, a comprehensive view of God’s universe and especially of the Dominion Covenant. He is supposed to know what goods and services are lawful under that covenant and are not. (Hint: it’s not the same as what goods and services are legal under government laws.) Second, he is supposed to understand the concept of individual purpose, both for himself and for his customers. Which means, he needs to know what field he is supposed to be involved in, and also, which customers are really served by his products and services. And avoid pushing his products where they are not useful. Third, a salesman needs to have a very strong position against the most common sin on the marketplace: fraud. Not only what passes for fraud legally, but what is also deliberate withdrawal of information which may help the customer make an informed decision. Fourth, a salesman needs to understand the concept of mutual profit (or loss, for that matter). While there is nothing wrong with getting the maximum value for your product, taking advantage of other people’s weaker economic position in terms of money power or information brings curse. The right principle is to always make sure that both parties profit from the transaction. How do you know if they do? Consult the alternatives. And, fifth, always build relationships for the future, rather than profit for today. Objectifying your customers only goes so far. And a business is only profitable when it continues beyond the “so far.” And in all this, a salesman needs to always remember that what is “legal” should not define his ethics. Legality is not the basis for morality, and a reputation is not based on abiding by the minimum legal requirements. It is built on on going above and beyond, and using your power and position to serve other people in ways they can’t serve themselves. One’s customers, too.
The book I will assign for reading this week is Wisdom and Dominion, Book 9 of Gary North’s economic commentary on the Bible. If you have read the other books of that commentary, or other books by Gary North, this book will sound a bit off balance to you: it is more focused on practical living than on economic theory or any theory whatsoever. But that’s the nature of Christian Reconstruction: our purpose is not to create another theoretical ivory tower for seminary professors to stretch and create numberless irrelevant classes for seminary students. In there, you will find a lot of wisdom needed for your career as a salesman. And not only as a salesman, but as a businessman as well – for a business can’t work unless you learn how to sell.
And finally, in your prayers and giving, consider Bulgarian Reformation Ministries, a mission organization committed to building the intellectual foundation for the future Christian civilization in Eastern Europe by translating and publishing books on the application of the Gospel to every area of life. Visit BulgarianReformation.com, subscribe to our newsletter, and donate. God bless you all.