How Jesus Responded to Skeptics and What it Means for Sales

As a sales professional, you face skepticism every day. Customers are often jaded, having dealt with inferior products, poor support and lousy services from other vendors in the past, long before they meet you. Couple that with the adversarial nature of American negotiating culture — which often feels more like a courtroom drama than a business discussion — and salespeople find themselves facing distrust and hostility from the start.

Jesus faced similar obstacles to His message and ministry, and as Christians in the marketplace we can learn from his experience and example. The Gospel, of course, is not a ‘product’ or ‘service’, but it is a message. And in observing Christ’s approach, we can learn valuable lessons that apply to our work in sales.

Here are three key lessons embedded in Jesus’ response to skeptics:

Lesson One: Understand and Adapt to the Other Person’s Circumstances

Jesus consistently spent time with people in very difficult and humble situations — the poor, the infirm, the young, those working in disreputable professions, those suffering from horrible diseases, and more. He also spent time among the most respected teachers, priests and leaders of his era. In every encounter, however, he always paid attention to the circumstances of the person with whom he was engaged.

If the skeptic he faced was a suffering individual, hesitant to believe in hope, Jesus comforted them, listened to them, then expressed compassion and understanding — well before preaching. If the skeptic he faced was a self-absorbed person of wealth or power presenting an insincere question, He answered them honestly and truthfully, but with a keen awareness of the politics surrounding the question.

Think about these kinds of encounters in your own sales career, and recognize that these people require different kinds of answers if you are to reach them with equal effectiveness.

Lesson Two: Use Discussion to Drive Dialogue and Discovery

The message of the Gospel is a transformative one, but it also requires a great deal of contemplation in order to understand fully. The significance of the Lord’s sacrifice on Calvary and what it means about the world is worthy of serious thought.

Jesus understood how to present a complex and life-changing message simply, but without ‘dumbing it down’. He spoke in plain words and using understandable and approachable examples, but he also crafted his discussions in order to elicit deeper thinking on the part of the other person. If a skeptic asked Christ a question, he didn’t just answer them in order to ‘overcome the objection’ — often his answers created a new question for the skeptic that forced them to dive deeper and think further.

In your sales experience, these kinds of discussions can help your prospect not only hear a reasoned response to their question, but also better understand how they should be thinking about their home, business or life and the role of your product or service in it.

Lesson Three: Believe in the Power of Your Message

Perhaps the most important message of Jesus for sales professionals, however, is the importance of believing in the message you have to share. Your product or service may be what you sell, but the message you offer is more than that — it is an opportunity for your prospects’ lives to be improved.

If you sell a unique roofing system for homes, then your message is about how to maintain a healthy home, improve insulation, protect the house from weather, and enhance property values. If you sell business software, your message is about how a better work process can enhance efficiency, sharpen competitiveness and improve the bottom line.

Jesus’ message was not just about what God did for the human race: It was about how that sacrifice would permanently make each person’s life better — through helping, healing and serving others.

When you work in sales, you need to believe — believe not only in your product or service, but also in your message. By crafting a message that is compelling and focused on making the other person’s life better, you position yourself for success.

These three lessons provide a powerful framework for responding to skeptics, turning questions into conversations, and crafting compelling messages that resonate with your customers.