What is evangelism?

I mean, we hear about it in church circles all the time — it’s a duty, a Christian responsibility, a command, something that we’re just supposed to do. But, is that it? If so, then there’s no wonder why so few Christians ever actually do it.

What’s the disconnect?

Let me bring it to light through a rather unconventional comparison.

How many people do you know that have dabbled in, tried, or are currently driving you nuts with their latest attempt at direct sales or network marketing? Yeah, I’m talking about your Avon, Herbalife, Advocare, Juice Plus, Arbonne, etc. type of friends. How many of them have actually achieved the “dream” that lured them in the beginning? Probably not many, if any.

Well, recently, I had the interesting opportunity to meet and listen to some of the best and brightest (and richest) consultants from a leading direct-sell company, and I was blown away. Here’s what I learned: There’s a HUGE difference between those kind of network marketers and everyone else, especially our on-and-off again, here-today-and-gone tomorrow, moved-on-to-the-next-great opportunity type of friends. And, it highlighted a visible difference between those dabbling with “dutiful” evangelism and those who actually live it out in a truly difference-making way. Interestingly enough, these professional network marketers used an approach that also seemed to mirror principles of evangelism.

Here’s what these pros had to say; here’s their approach…

“Champions are champions not because they do anything extraordinary but because they do the ordinary things better than anyone else.” — Chuck Noll

Like many things in life, success isn’t really about doing things that no one else can do; it’s achieved in great part by simply doing the common, ordinary, routine things better than everyone else. They always make the call, follow-up, put in the time, study, practice, etc. What’s great about this, if you believe it to be true, is that the majority of people, then, all have the same potential for greatness — it only comes down to each person’s own determination and will.

To be successful, really successful, you’ve got to “go pro.”

If it only comes down to determination and will, then you have to choose to do everything it takes to become a professional at what you are doing, just like an athlete preparing for the NFL or a student preparing to be a doctor or a lawyer. You choose to “go pro” long before you hit the professional football field (see Zach Thomas), step into the courtroom, or slip on the surgical gloves. It’s about that inner-decision to make network marketing your very lifestyle, not just a part of your life. It’s about seeing every decision you make each day as a step toward your overall vision, everything you do changing and conforming to your ultimate network marketing goal.

Be aware and ready to take advantage of every opportunity whenever and wherever it comes along.

When you have chosen to “go pro,” making network marketing your lifestyle, you will see everything around you through the lens of that particular business opportunity. You’ll be on the look out for every chance, whenever and wherever it may present itself. You will constantly be aware of the people around you and look for the clues that can open doors to conversation about your “business opportunity,” whether that is simply selling product or potentially expanding your network. You may be in the grocery store, the softball dugout, the break room, or the cafe — it doesn’t matter — seize the moment, take the time, making whatever changes to your “other” plans that might be necessary.

Be prepared in advance for every opportunity.

You can be aware and ready to jump on an opportunity, but if you’re not prepared for the encounter in advance, you’re likely to fail. Study, know your product, know the business model, etc. One of the most overlooked aspects of preparation is to focus on your story and that of others. As a network marketer, you’re also a professional story teller, your most powerful tool. A good story is non-threatening, opens the door to more conversation, and will address: Where were you in life before you personally experienced this business opportunity for yourself? What is life like for you currently, now that you are in the business opportunity? And, where are you going, as in what is this business opportunity allowing you to achieve in regards to your future goals?

So, knowing this, prepare your story in advance for a variety of possible encounters, like the random 30 second encounter in the grocery store line, the three minute conversation at the park, or the 15 minute car ride. In addition, know the story of your fellow network members, which serves to expand your toolbox, giving you the opportunity to connect to an even wider audience.

The 80-20 Rule (Otherwise known as the “Shut-Up-And-Listen” rule)

Prepare and hone the skill of asking the proper questions, those that will naturally lead you into your story and expand the conversation (your opportunity!).

How might this look? Example: Your business opportunity is about health supplements and weight loss. You’re in the grocery store and notice someone in line that has low calorie, diet products in their cart. You can ask, “I noticed that you were buying some health supplements. You want to hear something amazing? (Whose going to say no, right?) Would you believe that I have lost (or my friend has lost) X amount of weight on “these” products? (products related to your business opportunity)

When you are equipped and ready to ask the right questions, listen! Each response to your question provides you with the information you need to construct your “pitch,” helping guide your conversation toward your “business opportunity” story. If you’re doing all of the talking, you’re aimlessly wandering and will squander your opportunity.

What about the “hard” questions?

Practice this response, “I don’t know about that, but what I do know is this…” Bring it back to what you know and have personally experienced. You see, you can’t argue with a person’s story — it’s their experience and they know it best. The only thing that can jeopardize your opportunity is speaking about that which you do not know.

Employ your mentor or adviser (person in the business longer or “higher up” than you)

Don’t be afraid to bring your mentor, your adviser, or your sponsor into the conversation — a matter of fact, make it a practice to do so! This can be vitally important when you are confronted with questions you don’t know how to answer, but it also helps further substantiate what you’ve been talking about. Now, there is someone else involved in the conversation who has experienced the same great opportunity and can share their own story (and those of their friends)!

Practical: Do Mixers and Other Group-based Events.

Invite people into your home and practice hospitality. This creates a casual, non-threatening environment to continue the conversation about your business opportunity. Get to know your prospects (those that have shown any interest whatsoever), and invite your friends (those “story telling” friends that are part of the business already). Let the conversation continue and grow, creating the opportunity for them to ask deeper and more meaningful questions about the business without significant time constraints. You’ll build greater relationships, foster more trust, and expand your contacts (your prospect’s potentially interested friends). And, when you follow-up with your guests, you’ve immediately created more opportunities!

Set achievable and measurable goals.

Why? Because a plan without measurable goals is only a good intention, which, as we all know, often passes by, succumbing to more pressing needs/wants or our eventual disinterest. But, when you create short-term, measurable goals, you create a much greater possibility of real action. Start with smaller, achievable goals, and then grow them as you continue to grow. You might start off with the goal to talk to 3 new people each week, which, after you begin to meet and sustain that goal, may then grow into 3 new people a day!

Avoid the death blow.

The quickest way to kill your opportunities, and eventually your entire network marketing business, is to be something or someone you’re not. Don’t be a hypocrite or a liar; be who you say you are. And, if you say you are going to do something, do it. If your business is built largely on your story, your reputation, and the trust you have fostered, then it will unravel and fall apart the moment you violate that trust, tarnish your reputation, or contradict your story. And, when this happens, the damage will extend far beyond that particular prospect; it will extend to their friends, acquaintances, and anyone else who mentions that business opportunity in the future. The damage is exponential.

You see, after listening to these professionals talk about network marketing and how they approach their business, the difference between them and my more casual, laid back, and much less successful friends becomes readily apparent. They may ultimately want the same things, have the same dreams and aspirations, but they don’t at all have the same understanding, determination, or approach, the difference between a dabbling amateur and a true professional.

And, the same is true of only “dutiful” Christians, those that dabble with evangelism only because they think they’re supposed to. Even though they may genuinely want others to know the Lord, they haven’t yet sold out or made evangelism a lifestyle.

They have yet to “go pro,” and the world can see the difference.

Disclaimer: I am not attempting to cheapen the gospel by saying that we should distill it down into some kind of sales routine. My only goal is to help us see the difference and the greater potential that each of us have to share Christ’s love with others. We are capable of much more if we will pursue the Lord, really let His love fill us, and begin to reflect that love in a very real way to others all around us. These network marketing principles serve as a creative foundation for evangelism, but should not be employed merely as a way to increase evangelistic productivity — it’s about reaching each and every person the Lord brings into our lives through sincere love and concern for that particular individual. Don’t make this a numbers game, but use it as a personal challenge to become more aware, more determined, and more active in reaching out to others.