Billy Graham - the best salesperson I ever met

997 reads

Other ministers told funnier jokes than Billy Graham, did a better job of illustrating Bible passages and organizing sermons, but no one was more effective than Graham in getting people to step forward in front of the congregation and make a commitment.  

Translated from evangelism, that is what I call closing the sale.  It's no wonder since he started his career as a Fuller Brush salesman.

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), which was headquartered in Minneapolis, was instrumental in helping me get started in the envelope manufacturing business in the 1960s.  No one I've ever done business with has ever cared about me the way the Billy Graham organization did.  And I'm Jewish.  They were one of the largest envelope users in the country and were one of my biggest customers until they moved their headquarters to North Carolina 40 years later.

The BGEA earned loyalty that no amount of money could buy.  They recognized a business principle that is so elementary - If you expect the other person to care about you, show that you care about them.  It's the Golden Rule of business.  Because of this relationship, the BGEA got the best quality, the best delivery and the best prices.  They paid promptly, many times before I even shipped the product - absolutely unheard of in the envelope business.  

No wonder I was proud to call Billy Graham a friend.  Billy even honored me by providing an endorsement for my first book, "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive."

Graham's personal qualities set him far apart from other evangelists.  He was a man of utmost integrity and concern for people.  He was always quick to point out that he was just one member of a team.

How true!  Billy was the quintessential Mr. Outside.  He embodied the image of the organization, both to the outside world and to the people who work at BGEA.  The late George Wilson was Mr. Inside.  George passed away in 1999, and I was privileged to be asked to eulogize George, along with Billy.  While Billy provided the inspiration for the BGEA, George kept the place humming.  As Mr. Inside, George was low-profile, low-key, tireless, with an eye for talent and detail.

Most organizations need both these talents - the salesperson who brings in the business and the manager who knows what to do with it.  Surprisingly many businesses don't understand this or that those two talents seldom are found in the same person.  Selling is not a function of grandiose personalities and paraphernalia.  

For decades, Billy Graham was on a list of the 10 most respected Americans. He maintained his status and high visibility by sticking to the qualities that got him there - sincerity and moral integrity.  While others in his profession succumbed to the "holy wars," Graham kept getting stronger because he was a class act.

His reputation was his greatest asset.  Not product, not price, not service.  Everything flows from reputation - closing the sale, customer loyalty and referrals.  Billy was a big believer in being the best.  If they did that, his organization would be first.

One of the stories that I think illustrates the real Billy Graham involved an incident that occurred while he was at a dinner with some staff members. When the server recognized Billy, she dropped her tray, scattering dishes all over the place.  Graham immediately leaped up and helped her clean up the mess.

This was a perfect example of the humanity for which he was so famous.  How many of us would reach out to another person and help her through such an embarrassing moment?  Billy Graham's act defined good manners and consideration for the feelings of others.

Networking is one of my passions, and there were few better at networking than Billy Graham.  Networking is not necessarily a numbers game.  The idea is not to see how many people you can meet; the idea is to compile a list of people you can count on.

When you encountered Billy at a function, he made you feel like you were the most important person in the room.  He made eye contact and kept it.  He smiled.  He listened.  He asked questions or made comments that showed he was interested in what you had to say. 

Whether or not you agreed with his message, there was no question that Billy Graham was an icon for all that is good and right in this world.  

Mackay's Moral:   Billy Graham was a master communicator, but more than that, a master of humanity.

Trending

92
cryptocurrency's picture

Billions Are Flowing Into The Logistics Industry To Solve Today’s Delivery Issues

Meet LiteLink Technologies (CSE:LLT), Creator of the Most Comprehensive Logistics Solution The Sector Desperately NeedsHidden beneath the booming retail economy that’s seen e-commerce sales double over the last five years is what some call the
94
businessstandard's picture

Beyond the scripted code of conduct

The resignation of Binny Bansal of Flipkart is the latest in a series of departures of heavyweight CEOs in recent months.While the background of each of these resignations is different, there is a common pattern with deeper implications linking them
107
sethgodin's picture

Avoiding the curse of the low-hanging fruit

A new organization launches and finds excited and willing customers. These are the early adopters. The nerds. The people who knew they had a problem. These are the easy sales, the folks who will wait in line. And then the curse can set in. You will
151
johnsullivan's picture

Attract Quality Candidates by Thinking Like a Product Marketer

Talented people are bombarded with opportunities. So many that yours could easily be lost in the crowd. There’s a simple way to make your opportunities stand out — package your jobs as if you’re marketing a product. I was reminded...
159
sethgodin's picture

An inconvenient shopping list

Cyber Monday (inspired by its evil cousin, Black Friday) is a symptom of our obsession with convenience. As Tim Wu has pointed out, convenience trumps privacy, morality and good judgment for too many of us–the internet has made things faster, and
140
johnsullivan's picture

A Wild and Crazy New Model of Employment

Companies today adhere to a decades-old recruitment process originally designed for in-person paper applications — a pre-Internet, one-company-for-life era that has quickly passed us by. The Internet increased our visibility of choice and ease of
164
jackcanfield's picture

4 Tips to Help You Accept & Embrace Change

Whether you perceive it or not, everything is constantly changing – the environment, the weather, the economy, technology, society, culture, your friends and family, your body, everything. And the better able you are to embrace change in what
215
johnsullivan's picture

You Don’t Need to Code to Source With A.I.

Are you intimidated by all this talk of digital transformation and artificial intelligence implementation? Do you feel like you don’t have the tech-savvy or coding knowledge to get started? In the world of recruiting, we’re often faced with too many
200
johnsullivan's picture

Are You Committing Career Malpractice?

Do you know X? I noticed a job posting and when I checked the company, it showed that you had connections there. Let me know if you know her. Like you, I get these from friends from time-to-time as they...