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The Biblical Truth About Sales Conversations

Updated: Apr 22, 2021

I remember the first time I tried my hand at a sales job. I was twenty-two years old, living in London, England. I’d done very, very well in customer service with the company I worked for. I was young, energetic, and full of confidence (in myself - and not the right kind).

Pride preys upon the spiritually inexperienced. I wanted to sell for that company, but they took so long to move me to sales that I applied elsewhere … and got offered a job selling memberships at a health club in the financial district. Everything seemed to be going right.

But the truth is I didn’t know what I was doing. Very quickly, I found myself spending one day after another, getting nowhere. I sold “zilch, zero, nada” for most of my brief tenure at my new employer. Typical of the time, they offered little to nothing in the way of true sales mentorship. Eventually, I blew my stack (via e-mail) to my boss, and he fired me.

Without going into detail, those days led to a lot of “if only” moments.

If only I’d realized how good I was at customer service and stayed where I was, I might be part of an executive team today!

If only I’d understood that in the Kingdom, service IS sales … I probably could have sold quite well! But I was just an infant in my journey, and I thought sales was about having charisma and “knowing all the right things to say.”

For any observant reader, my story sheds light on how deeply pride and greed operated beneath my new Christian façade. (Is it any wonder Paul counsels against the appointment of new believers to high office in the church?) To make truly valuable sales, I believe Yeshua would have us operate from humility and generosity instead.

But among His people who wrestle pride and greed, those two qualities are not easily developed. In this podcast conversation with one of my mentors, Shae Bynes, I detail how these pivotal decisions led me to 20 years of professional chaos afterward.

How To Sell Biblically: The Close of Boaz

One example of this appeared in the ancient Book of Ruth. One of Yeshua’s ancestors, a wealthy tzaddik (righteous man) named Boaz, used the same strategy to outmaneuver social traditions so he could marry Yeshua’s ancestral grandmother, Ruth.

Similarly, Messiah allowed Himself to be sacrificed according to prophecy and tradition. Boaz approached his kinsman (who had first rights to Ruth and her deceased husband’s land), detached from controlling the outcome. He risked losing the entire deal. Boaz led off by reminding the unnamed relative he was “first in line” to increase his estate by purchasing it from Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi.

The man excitedly declared his intent to follow through. It was only then that Boaz reminded him, “By the way, on the day you acquire it, you also acquire the man’s widow as your wife.”

Oops, wait a minute. Acquiring an “unplanned wife” can complicate any estate plan, but mostly a Moabitess! No respectable Jewish business person with lands and houses to pass on to his heirs would want to go near a widowed woman of Moab. Boaz artfully withheld this “make-or-break” tidbit of information … until just the right time.

You might think I overstate the case, but I believe there’s a reason Boaz didn’t merely walk up with a bag of silver and offer to “buy” Ruth outright. He respected tradition and social order. He honored the inheritance rules and treated his relative with complete honesty, and didn’t try to “steer” him in any particular direction.

Boaz was:

  • Authentic - he refused to engage in deceit or trickery.

  • Transparent - he told the whole truth, accurately.

  • Vulnerable - he risked losing the deal upfront

Above all else, Boaz understood that outcomes belong to God. He took the chance that it might not end the way he hoped it would. Not everything God orchestrates dovetails with how we think it should go, but that doesn’t make it bad. As the First Century Rabbi Gamzu was known to say, “This too is for good.”

I believe this is how Yeshua would have us approach sales conversations - authentic, transparent, and vulnerable - entrusting outcomes to Him. This is why we can say, in reviewing the results, “You either win or learn.”


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