12 Powerful Sales Lessons from “The Chosen”

My wife and I have been known to binge-watch a TV series now and then, and this weekend, we watched the first three seasons of The Chosen. The Chosen is the story of Jesus of Nazareth, his twelve apostles and their journey.  It showcases the healings, miracles and sermons Jesus delivered to the  Jews in Rome, while attempting to avoid both persecution and prosecution by the Romans who felt threatened by him, and the Rabbis who accused him of blasphemy.

This article might seem like a faith-based article. I’ve written hundreds of articles with analogies to sales using athletes, musicians, actors, CEOs, politicians, inventors, songs, movies, TV Shows and their leading characters. You don’t need to be a fan or follower to appreciate the sales lessons I introduced and today’s article fits the genre of a celebrity-based analogy. You may not be aware that I was Jewish for the first 46 years of my life and after a an actual calling 22 years ago, I am now a practicing Catholic.  As a former Jew, I’m aware that non-Christians may feel uncomfortable with Jesus as the basis for this article’s analogy.  You don’t have to read it if you don’t want to, although there are twelve great sales and sales leadership lessons beginning where it says, “Scaling” in bold.

While watching the enjoyable series, I identified twelve (one for each disciple) solid analogies to sales and selling so we’ll get right to them because I’m sure you aren’t reading my sales articles for my opinions on faith or religion!

Scaling – No, not the fish miracle. There is not a single business in the world that has scaled to the degree that Christianity has grown over the past 2,000 plus years.  The oldest company in the USA is a plantation founded in 1613, while the oldest company in the world is a Japanese construction company founded more than 1,400 years ago.  If you have a message that appeals to the masses, get early adopters to join you and they become your advocates, your company can continue to flourish.

Coaching – Jesus saw his early followers as students and early on, they saw him as their Rabbi, or teacher. It wasn’t until later, when it became obvious he was the Messiah, that they became his apostles.  He provided one-on-one coaching because each apostle had different flaws, weaknesses, questions, and challenges.  He told stories to get his points across and most importantly, the coaching was always gentle, positive, uplifting, and timely, conducted in real time, as events transpired.  That is exactly how and when sales managers should provide coaching to their salespeople.  I have written dozens of articles about coaching salespeople.  Read any one of them here.

Forgiveness – Jesus was probably the most forgiving person who ever lived.  CEOs, Sales Leaders, Sales Managers, and salespeople should do the same, quickly moving beyond past failures, losses, misunderstandings, or incompetencies. It would help to focus on what should change in order to move forward in a positive way. I have not previously written about forgiveness, but perhaps I should! I forgive those who have sent hate emails or trolled me on LinkedIn or Twitter when they disagreed with what I wrote, especially the two times when I said something positive about Trump.

Inexperience – Despite not having the luxury of time, His apostles were not chosen for their experience, talent or skills. He made it clear that who they were before is not who they would become in the future.  Despite their lack of religious, missionary, promotional or sales experience, Jesus coached them up until they were capable of succeeding in their new roles.  While hiring for sales experience is required to quickly ramp-up new salespeople, hiring for industry experience should not be a requirement.  Salespeople must always be coached up, whether they are new to a role or not. Read How the Right Questions Can Make up for the Lack of Experience and Get New Salespeople to Take Off Like a Rocket Ship.

Faith – Jesus taught his disciples to have faith that God would provide for them while Jesus would assure their place in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Salespeople should be taught to have faith that when they open their mouths to speak, they will respond appropriately and the right words will come from their lips.  Additionally, faith-based salespeople can ask for God’s help, and He will provide if they are doing good, honest work to help people solve their problems.  I did write about my Faith in God once before in The Biggest Secret to My Sales Success

Humility – Jesus asked his apostles to be more humble. Salespeople and Sales Leaders alike will find more success when they show humility, tamp down their arrogance, and don’t allow their egos to rule them.  Read What Sales Leaders Need to Know about Ego and Empathy and The Top 10 Reasons Consultative Sellers Outsell Everyone Else

Proof of Concept – You have probably heard the expression about being a Doubting Thomas.  Thomas was one of the apostles who, after a panic attack over running out of wine and not being able to serve everyone attending a wedding, witnessed the miracle of Jesus turning water into fine wine. Jesus found that many people, despite their need for salvation, “doubted” that he was the Son of Man as referenced in the prophecy of Isaiah.  His solution? Healings and miracles of course.  Your prospects will be blown away by Proof of Concept too!  Read How to Close a Sales Using Proof of Concept

Patience – Jesus had tremendous patience for the worries, fears, doubts, concerns, aggressions, and inappropriate thoughts and actions of his apostles.  Similarly, Sales managers should practice patience for their developing salespeople.  Note to Sales Managers: Patience is not saying, “Take your time and try this when you feel ready.”  Practicing patience is to say, “Try this now,” allow them to fail, and coach them until they understand what they need to change and successfully make the change.  Read Closing Sales – The Fine Line Between Patience and Impatience

Lowering Resistance – Jesus was a master at disarming people, especially those who were predisposed to resist, deny, or feel threatened by him. His ability to lower resistance is one of the most important qualities shared by top salespeople.  Here’s a video I recorded around fifteen years ago about the importance of managing resistance.

Rejection – After his sermon on the Mount, Jesus bestowed healing powers upon his apostles and sent them traveling to spread the word. He told them to go from door to door, but sometimes, they will be rejected, and they should simply move to the next door, the next person, or the next opportunity to spread the word.  I’m pretty sure this one translates quite cleanly to selling without my having to add anything.  Read Rejection – Does Selling Cause More Anxiety Than Dating?

Authenticity – Jesus was offering Salvation, but people feared he was there to avenge them for turning away from God.  His message of peace, love and forgiveness was softer than the laws handed down by Moses, and resonated with most people. Salespeople can learn from that! Regardless of what you are offering, pitching, selling, promoting or providing, if your message doesn’t resonate, if the prospect doesn’t recognize the value, if you don’t connect with your prospects, if your offering isn’t realistic, timely, and relevant and if you aren’t credible and authentic, they won’t buy from you.  First Impressions and Authenticity go together.  Read Your Last Chance to Make a First Impression 

Will to Sell – Jesus was off the charts on the five (out of the 21) Sales Core Competencies that include a salesperson’s Desire for Success in Sales, Commitment for Success in Sales, Their Positive Outlook, Their Ability to Take Responsibility for Their Results and Their Motivation.   Those five Sales Core Competencies led Jesus to demonstrate incredible discipline and consistency for his mission of offering salvation for those that believe in Him. salespeople who are strong in the five Will to Sell competencies also demonstrate consistency and discipline, which often manifests in full pipelines and high win rates.

If you are not Christian, and you read through to the end anyway, wow, and thank you.

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