In this series, we’ve been exploring five Biblical principles that apply to sales and marketing. While writing these articles, I repeatedly encountered a sixth principle: the principle of stewardship. This article addresses stewardship across the various topics covered in the previous articles.
The principle of stewardship
Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:2
Among the shelves upon shelves of business books available, many stress efficiency and careful use of resources to improve the bottom line. That sounds like good stewardship, doesn’t it? But Christian stewardship goes much deeper than the bottom line. It’s a heart motivation that we have, a desire to please God in everything we do.
The principle of stewardship goes way back to the beginning, when God commanded mankind to steward the earth and its resources: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth (Genesis 1:28). God gave Adam the job of “dressing and keeping” the Garden of Eden.
Merriam-Webster defines stewardship as “the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.” Jesus connected faithfulness in stewarding material blessings according to God’s wishes with faithfulness in spiritual life: “If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” (Luke 16:11).
Stewardship is about more than just money. When you give your son a bike (or a job around the house), you expect him to “steward” it. And when God gives you a son, He expects you to steward him, to manage him responsibly till adulthood.
Biblical stewardship is based on the truth that God is the creator and owner of the world. The things we call our own are really only ours in the sense that God has entrusted them into our care. We are responsible to use and manage them to worship God and serve our fellowman.
It goes without saying that God doesn’t give us worthless gifts. The things He has given us are worth caring for in a way that pleases Him.
How does this apply to marketing? The purpose of marketing is to increase revenue and thereby business profit by serving more customers and/or increasing the value delivered to customers. Good stewardship calls us to discover how we can get the best results with the least amount of time and dollars invested.
Testing and measuring are the foundation of this discovery process. If we don’t measure results, we don’t know if our marketing investment return was negative, breakeven, or positive. To test and measure properly, we need to know the profit margins on our products and services.
If you have unused capacity in your business, you are losing opportunities to serve customers and increase your profits. As faithful stewards we should seek to fill the capacity we have. Marketing helps you do this.
Marketing is not as confusing or complicated as you may think. It is a skill that can be learned. While you can and should delegate some marketing tasks to professionals, you need to learn enough to make good decisions for your business as part of your stewardship responsibilities.
Here are some questions to consider:
- Do I have a disciplined plan for testing and measuring results?
- Does my marketing keep my production capacity filled?
- What areas of marketing should I learn more about so that I can make better decisions?
Let’s look at how the principle of stewardship applies to six specific areas of sales and marketing.
1. Clarifying Your Business Purpose
A good steward is not aimless. He knows exactly what his employer expects of him. As business stewards, we must understand clearly what we are aiming to accomplish and why we are trying to accomplish it. If we are foggy about where we are going with our businesses, we will take a zigzag path (or even go in circles). This is not a good use of resources.
Entrepreneurs sometimes contract a disease called Shiny Object Syndrome. Businesspeople with this “disease” get distracted from their core purpose and start chasing shiny objects—enticing new strategies, ideas, opportunities, products.
Clarity on your vision, mission, and core values gives you a basis for faster and better decision-making so you stay on the right track. Sometimes you will decide to take advantage of new opportunities because it fits with your vision and mission, and other times you will need to decline.
Clarity of business focus streamlines decision making and makes your job easier because your team can take appropriate action without always coming back to you for direction or just doing what they want to do.
2. Research and Strategy
The story goes that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos positions an empty chair at the conference table during meetings. The empty chair serves to represent the customer—Bezos wants Amazon’s customers to be the focus of every meeting. “Start with the customer and work backwards,” he says.
We waste many dollars and hours when we make faulty assumptions about our customers. Unless we discover the truth about our customer’s needs and preferences, we won’t know how to serve them in the best possible way.
Good stewardship usually includes discovering and serving a niche market. Differentiating yourself this way is more effective for both your business and your customers (offering them better choices). Directly competing with other businesses easily turns into a price war that doesn’t help anyone.
3. Lead Generation
Lead generation is often where most of the waste happens in marketing. That’s because advertising is expensive, and we don’t always get a good return on our investment. Pouring money into advertising with no Return on Investment (ROI) is like investing in an expensive machine that doesn’t work. We would never knowingly do the latter, so why would we do the former?
If you do not have any testing and measuring mechanism in place, start by tracking how many leads you get from each lead source. Also track how many dollars of sales come from each lead source. Traditional forms of advertising such as newspaper ads and direct mail can sometimes be replaced with less expensive alternatives that yield better results.
4. Lead Conversion
Lead conversion can also be a place for major waste. Do you know what percentage of your leads convert to sales, and how much every conversion costs on average? If it costs you $100 to generate one lead, every lead that does not convert is $100 lost.
Let’s look at it this way. If you spend $50 to convert that lead instead of losing it, you are ahead by $50 because you redeemed that $100 lead. It is often less costly to improve your conversion rate than to generate more leads.
5. Sales and CRM
Part of being a good steward in business is helping your customers be good stewards of their own resources. Just as we wouldn’t want to spend money on an ill-advised purchase, we should not try to persuade our customers toward purchases that won’t serve their best interest.
As salesmen, we can be partners in helping our prospects get the most value for their money. This is following the Golden Rule, and even if we don’t get the most profitable sale, we will still be rewarded for doing the right thing.
An organized Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system saves you time and helps you serve your customers and prospects more efficiently because you have their contact information and sales history at your fingertips.
Making a direct connection between branding investments and the return it brings is challenging. However, proper and strategic branding can be among the highest ROI marketing investments you make. This is true for several reasons:
- Branding is all about building a reputation of trust with your prospects and customers. Creating trust is essential for people to do business with you. With a strong brand, your entire sales cycle will have less friction.
- Once trust is earned, all you need to do to maintain it is to keep doing what you say you are going to do.
- Satisfied customers who trust you will actively refer you or at least give a good word for you when others ask. Even prospects who chose not to buy from you might recommend you to others they believe would be a good fit for your product or service.
You have a lot of irons in the fire and are juggling many responsibilities in addition to marketing. In each of those areas, God is calling you to manage well what He has given you for His glory and others’ good.
If there is one thing I want you to remember from this article, it is this: testing and measuring is the key to improving the results from the time and dollars you invest in marketing. Without this information, you are driving blind and more susceptible to making wrong turns. May God give you wisdom to be a good steward of your marketing activity.