At Apple Computer in the early 1980s, Guy Kawasaki and his marketing team didn't just sell computers with an easy-to-use user interface…. Instead, Apple sold the Macintosh dream: to improve productivity and creativity, and to resist the IBM “clone,” literally.

Building on the momentum of loyal and extremely passionate customers, Apple created an evangelism department and hired marketers to accomplish three things: evangelize, evangelize, evangelize. Guy was eventually named the company's “chief evangelist,” and Apple evolved into something resembling a religious doctrine. Its customers are believers, and true believers help spread the word based on the emotional connection that the company promotes and inspires.

Evangelism is an authentic sales format because its roots lie in sharing ideas, insights and hope. It's rooted in what's good for the prospect, not the seller. It's more powerful than most traditional forms of selling, because…

  • Evangelism is authentic. To be an evangelist for your company, you must believe in its products, services and, most importantly, the company. Passion is difficult to fake. Customers smell a commission-driven sale a mile away.

  • Evangelism is about long-term relationships. Sharing insights, ideas and values builds long-lasting relationships with customers; it's not just brokering an emotionless transaction.

  • Evangelism builds upon itself. When people believe in you, the company and your cause, they want to bring others under your tent.

Using a chart adapted from Kawasaki's book, Selling the Dream, let's examine how a traditional sales culture compares to an evangelism ideology:

Concept Traditional Sales Evangelism
Motivation Make money Change the world
Philosophy Sell to Convert
Method Impose Expose
Goal Quota Referral
10 percent Commission Tithing
When 8am-5pm Anytime
Where Clubhouse Anywhere

Take the concept of motivation and answer this question: What is the primary motivation of your company?

  • To make money? Create shareholder value?

  • Or is your motivation to change the world and improve customers' lives?

Examine your sales method. Does it…

  • Impose: Do you cold call? Do you rent lists and send unsolicited direct mail or email?

  • Expose: Do you focus intently on educating customer and prospects by freely giving them knowledge via articles, your Web site, webinars, speeches and your blog? Do you freely share your knowledge and intellectual capital, discovering ways it can reach prospects via their networks, thereby making it more valuable?

Finally, what's the ultimate goal of your sales efforts?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba are the authors of Creating Customer Evangelists: How Loyal Customers Become a Volunteer Sales Force.