How can you create evangelists within a company, and scale such an operation? It can certainly be a challenge. But as we’ve discussed in previous posts in this series, evangelism is something that can indeed be taught and learned, once people have decided that is what they want to do. Evangelists are people who go out and spread the word about their company, their products and services, and most importantly as we’ll see, their messages. They are sorely needed in today’s businesses.
Any worthwhile sales effort, of course, begins with a fantastic product or service that truly brings value to customers. For such a product is evolved a solid strategy. From the strategy, then, evolves a great message that is worth evangelizing. We talked in a previous article about the fact that, in evangelism, the message and the messenger must become one—otherwise, the evangelism isn’t authentic. That will only work with a fantastic message, part of a great strategy, all backed by a very worthwhile product or service. The combination of the product, the strategy, and the message creates a clear path for your evangelistic goals.
From the Bottom Up
You’ll see that real evangelism requires an approach from the bottom up—people get inspired at the bottom and carry it through to the top, as in a classical grassroots approach. It can never work being dictated from the top down.
An example of evangelism’s effectiveness in a company is Tupperware. The “Tupperware party” which began in the 1950s and was huge throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s was an unbelievable story of evangelism. People gathered at a person’s house, had coffee and snacks, and bought Tupperware items. The salespeople were on commission only, and their success depended solely on their evangelism. That evangelism, it can clearly be seen, was based upon a very solid strategy, message and product line—and it all added up to the numbers earned.
There are other examples—another is World Financial Group, an enormously successful financial business platform which is marketed almost solely by evangelism and word of mouth.
In evangelism, training is vital. In addition to being given a clear message, evangelists should be placed on a straight and somewhat narrow path, with specific directions. They should not be given too much freedom or too many options.
Evangelism thrives in a model in which the successful people become trainers. In other words, successful evangelists become recruiters and trainers for the new people.
Once such a system is up and running, you then have a workable model. As it’s building and as it’s running, everything should be very transparent and easy to access.
I know of what I speak—an evangelist organization is what we are now building at Pipeliner. We suffered through the traditional concept of sales, during which I was mostly angry, frustrated, hurt, and had salespeople coming and going. These reps were not bad salespeople—in fact, some of them were great. But the main problem was that, while they might have believed in the product, they didn’t really believe in the cause behind the product. The product is an extension of the cause, an extension of the primary idea or overall value. An evangelist firmly believes in that cause.
For that cause to be carried forward, it must remain true and not be betrayed. For example, in the early days of Christian missionaries, there were those that betrayed the concepts of the Bible, which of course caused people to react that what they were preaching was a lie. That kind of evangelism created far more problems than it solved. Bartolome de las Casas, a 16th-century Spanish colonist who came over to the West Indies shortly after Columbus, publicly exposed the atrocities being performed on native peoples by colonists. He fought for reform and fair treatment of natives, and while he believed that Christianity could help them, he fought their abuse and enslavement. Unfortunately, his words were drowned out at the time because the “cause” of gold and riches seemed more important. We now know how true that is not.
The average life of a salesperson on any one job is 18 months. Why is it that they change jobs so frequently? Because their only “cause” is to earn more money. There’s nothing wrong with desiring to be successful and affluent, but along with it should come the desire to accomplish a real cause, and provide actual help to prospects and customers.
The cause of the evangelist, of course, is to help the prospect by bringing them over to the evangelist’s cause. It usually doesn’t happen overnight—the prospect is generally not going to, after 15 minutes, throw their hands up and say, “Okay, I’ll buy!” It’s a process of planting the seed, watering and nurturing. That process is often what is being attempted by the “drip marketing” of marketing automation, but what actually happens is that the person is worn down by constant message bombardment, which almost never results in a sale.
Words Backed Up by Actions
An evangelist, in order to truly succeed, must make sure their words (and the messages of their company) are backed up by their actions. The product and service must stand up to the stated mission.
A campaign often held up as a fantastic example of evangelism is that of Apple, with the 1984 introduction of the Macintosh. This amazing message, with its Ridley Scott-directed commercial, was “I am against establishment, for creativity, for innovation, for something I believe in.” I was right there, one of the first Apple evangelists in my native country of Austria, placing the Apple logo on my car.
Apple was freeing up the spirit of computing. And it worked—the Macintosh was adopted by all the creative people: moviemakers, musicians, artists, and desktop publishers. This was real evangelism at work.
This shows that if you have a message, a philosophy, something that a large group can agree with, you can create a movement. Steve Jobs changed the world in many ways—the computer industry, the entertainment industry, and the phone industry. To bring real change, you need evangelists to go out and tell that story. If you want to create movement in your company, you must have a story. If you don’t, you have nothing to talk about but product features.
My product Pipeliner CRM is on Gartner’s latest SFA Magic Quadrant Report, which is an enormous achievement. With these and other positive notices, I am frequently asked what makes Pipeliner different from its competitors.
I tell them it’s not just the features—even though Pipeliner has revolutionary features such as its total visual interface and the lack of need for full-time administration. But the real difference is the underlying message, which is written into the very genetic code of our company: that salespeople are truly the wealth creators and peace producers of the world, and deserve to be backed up in every way imaginable.
“We offer a way to peaceful, prosperous life!
Today it seems like humans and technology have become combined or even equal.
As a CRM vendor, we believe that technology should, however, serve as a vehicle for all people in the world to responsibly seek independence, freedom and wealth.
It is clear that without technology, no one can participate in a global economy and this is the reason we want to reach as many people as possible. If you are a sales rep, a manager, or an organization, our mission is to put people first and promote prosperity. We do this through sales because sales has the power to produce wealth and create peace.”
Within the Network Selling model, we have created, salespeople can really understand that message, go out and truly empathize with a customer, understand their needs, respect the buyer and their situation, and result in a win-win situation and a valuable relationship for both of them. The result is not only better salespeople but better citizens.
Community and Recommendations
Beyond the individual, we’re helping establish, in many places where none exists, a new middle class that is taking care of the community they live in. Salespeople live by recommendations, and when someone recommends someone to you you are immediately drawn to them—especially when you know the recommendation isn’t coming through some kind of manipulation or marketing. Recommendations cannot be faked—you only recommend people who actually help you.
You can see here that we are creating evangelists—based on a strong message, based on a powerful strategy, based on an empowering product.
Just join us in this journey!