When you aren’t directly selling a product or service, but instead selling a concept or a belief system, you are an evangelist.
Evangelism is the everyday version of the old comedy saw “If they buy the premise, they’ll buy the bit.” First you sell the story, the idea, the notion, and then you can come in behind and sell all the other bits which promise to make the story come true.
There is a newage expo in the area this weekend and I was looking at the blurbs for the exhibitors. What they are all selling is some kind of holistic energy healing, some belief system about how you can find more peace and power in your own life.
The only one who isn’t selling that is the keynote speaker, who for an extra charge will show you how to sell yourself in the world, creating a business which sells stories that drive the sale of products and services. The dream of so many is to get out of the rat race and help people, doing what they love in a way that the money will follow.
The best part about seeing your selling as evangelism is that you can really come from the belief that you are pitching for the greater good, only working to help and heal other people by assisting them in finding a true way to balance their own internal essence and energy.
It’s much like casual fortune tellers, who survive by believing that what they offer is truth and not just some kind of wishful manipulation. People can bring a television back if it doesn’t do what was promised, but an idea, a vision, an intention never is there for a refund of the price paid into it, in cash, in time or in hope. If it didn’t work for you, well, maybe you did it wrong, not believing enough.
Selling stories, though, is a powerful business. It’s what authors and workshop leaders have always done, is what religious leaders build their churches on. By encapsulating truth they can create visions which open new possibilities, giving comfort and courage to others.
What story would I sell if I had a table at the expo this weekend? What belief system to support healing would I offer to those who spent $7 to enter so they could seek some kind of enlightenment, solace and empowerment?
You may have noticed that I sometimes tend to overthink things. I suspect that what people are really looking for is not a story or a product, but rather an energy. They want to sniff the vendors and feel which one can help them.
There is a half forgotten story about a client who had a referral to a new therapist. When the client got to the visit, she found not the man named on the form, but a transwoman.
“Yes,” the therapist said, “I have recently emerged as trans. I’m sorry this was a surprise to you. I’ll be glad to help you find another provider.”
“No,” the client said, after thinking a moment. “No, I think that you might be able to help me.”
The client was looking for a guide to transformation, and for whatever wordless reason, she saw a possible helper.
It’s not a story I’m selling, it’s my story, the way my journey has taught me a thing or two. All that means I can listen to your stories and reflect them back in surprising and powerful ways.
Could I just dress in full regalia as a trans shaman, sit at a bare table at the expo, and draw seekers into my vision? After hearing their story, I can offer them questions for $1 each. Sure, they will be koans, designed to stimulate thought, but that’s good too, right?
My experience has been that people find me to be like fire, fascinating to watch, but too hot to get close to. It’s a kind of a rock star thing
Do I have the charisma, the charm that can attract people who believe I can help them? Or am I just an object of curiosity, one to be observed but not really engaged?
How much do I need to polish my products and services? How much do I need to shape my story into something that is accessible and relevant to other people?
How do I stand as a useful healer to those who are still seeking around the edges?