Thursday, March 03, 2005

Contrarian View From the Pew: The Passage of Time

There was a time in America when most vacuum cleaners were sold door to door. The most effective method for selling the vacuums was for the salesman to throw a little dirt on the carpet of the house he had just entered in order to show how much better his product was than the vacuum the home owner was currently using.

30 years ago, Amway had made so much money selling home cleaning products through multi-level marketing that a full time teacher and part time insurance salesman in Georgia found a better way to sell life insurance. He found that the most effective method for selling life insurance policies was to recruit new part-time life insurance salespeople.

Walking door to door with a hand full of dirt was not the goal of the vacuum cleaner salesman. Selling the vacuum cleaner was the goal. Throwing down the dirt was the method. Recruiting part-time salespeople was not the goal of the Georgia salesman. Selling insurance policies was the goal. Recruiting part-time salespeople was the method.

Nowadays, vacuum cleaners are sold in department stores right along with other home products because door to door vacuum cleaner sales declined when home owners quit opening their doors and letting salespeople in with a hand full of dirt. Insurance sales are again made mostly by professionals because people found out how hard it was for amateurs to sell life insurance and they were less willing to buy a policy from someone offering them a chance to earn a second income.

As believers, we need to be committed to the cause of spreading Christianity throughout the world until our Lord returns. However, we should not be committed or married to any one method. The multi-level marketing method of evangelism has run its course. It is no longer as effective as it once was. Jesus is still as important now as he has been to believers for the last 2005 years. We need to modernize our methods and let the world know.


Buz said...

A few things ...

While most vacuums cleaners are sold in dept. stores, millions are spent on TV ads to convince people to go to the store and buy the vacuum.

Door to door sales are mostly dead, not because the method was ineffective, but (1) because of other things happening in the world, people are afraid of ANYONE who comes to their door, and (2) because the quality of the salesmen that one gets for the job has declined.

Ask ANY salesman and he will admit that the most powerful endorsement is one that is given, not from a stranger or a TV ad, but from a friend. In some ways, that is why using celebrities in ads is so effective ... people feel like they know the celebrity. I may not know Fred Green, trying to sell me a vacuum, but, WOW, there is Jerry Seinfeld ... I see him every week on that show. He is like a brother to me, I trust him.

I am not married to a particular method, but at the same time, I believe that even the best methods can fail when performed half-heartedly. In that case, I thing that we need to evaluate the root cause of the failure ... was it the method or the operative.

I am certainly not opposed to using new methods, but I am suspicious of any plan which removes the responsibility for evangelism from each individual Christian.


Hammertime said...

This seems like a rehash of the last post, in allegorical form. We're on the edge of our seats - what is your proposal?!