I don’t know who took the photograph, but I loved it when I saw it. The colors, time of day, composition and mood it set in motion, I appreciate and applaud God who made it all, and the photographer who caught it with the perfect lens. I wanted to paint the scene in Oil as soon as possible. Weather is changing and time to paint with Oil is limited to my unheated garage. I chose this painting, not only because I loved the subject, but because it provides an example for our thought for this week—Selling.


Welcome to the sales team—a.k.a. human race!

This greeting needs a bit of unpacking. I like definitions. The best one for ‘selling’ I’ve heard comes from last century’s motivational speaker, Earl Nightingale: “Selling is causing someone to want to do that which is in their own best interest.”

No matter what role(s) we currently hold, there’s probably not a day goes by when we are not in the position of suggesting, encouraging or requesting someone, in our sphere of influence, to take action we believe will be in their best interest. Parents with children, teachers with students, pastors with congregations, managers with employees, you get the idea.

So, how is that task going for you? Do you have lots of practice, but not much intended result. Why? It is often said: ‘practice makes permanent, not perfect’. If our approach is inadequate, no matter how many times we repeat the process, we’ll get less than intended results. It’s my conviction that we are simply not communicating—selling—effectively. We may ask: “Has anyone come up with simple proven steps that nearly guarantee anyone a better result?” Yes!

They are [1]The Five Great Rules of Selling’. ‘Selling’ in our culture, is not so palatable. We generally have (unless we are in sales) a more or less negative feeling about being ‘sold’ almost anything. That’s why I prefer Earl Nightingale’s definition for selling. With his words in mind, I altered the wording to ‘The Five Great Rules of Communicating”… with the addition …“to persuade one to take action that will be in their own best interest.” The five rules are: Attention, Interest, Conviction, Desire and Close. What do they mean? Here’s a short explanation.

Attention: If you don’t have attention, you can pretty well forget the next four rules. There are many ways to gain favorable ‘Attention’. Knowledge of the person helps.

Interest: Once you have a person’s ‘Attention’, the next step is to gain their ‘Interest’ in what you are about to communicate. Illustrations may prove helpful.

Conviction: After ‘Interest’ comes ‘Conviction’ that what you are about to communicate is true or will actually work. Testimony from someone they trust can be powerful.

Desire: Having ‘Conviction’ that what you are saying is actually true and possible, helps create the desire for it to be true in their life. Based on testimony of someone trusted, the ‘Desire’ is often fueled: “I too, want that!”

Close: Here the person being communicated with takes action and begins enjoying the benefits of what was in his or her best interest from the beginning. This goes beyond the verbal ‘Desire’ to the actual ‘Close’. Lifestyle or environmental changes begin and continue as beneficial habits.

My personal example

Think back to today’s painting. I was ‘sold’—was effectively communicated with concerning the photograph when I first saw it. Here are the 5 steps:

My Attention was immediately gained when my eyes first landed on the photograph. Having an interest in art made getting my attention easy. Interest in the photograph wasn’t hard for me. I loved the colors, the mood, the crispness and the light—all of it! I had the Conviction that I could do a reasonable job in converting the photographic scene onto a canvas with Oil paint. Desire was a ‘no brainer’. I wanted to do it, right away! Close came within two weeks of seeing the photograph. I finished the Oil painting and believe it was in my best interest and desire to complete it. I was ‘sold’—effectively communicated with to the end that something was fulfilled in my best interest.

“The goal of this command [in the example above] is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”

1 Timothy 1:5


[1] The Five Great Rules of Selling by Percy H. Whiting, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. Revised 1957. Available from Amazon with top ratings.


2 thoughts on “Selling

  1. All I have to say is that I remember you talking about “selling” over 51 years ago. You are (and always have been) a master salesman, and that’s part of what made you such a good pastor. Your fine art comments are just an extension of the words of wisdom you brought to your ministry. In Christian education we say it a little differently. Hook–gain someone’s attention with an important issue, Book–show what the Bible says about this issue. Look–examine the implications of what the Bible says, and Took–convince (sell) one’s learners to do something about the teaching. To the extent that I followed this formula well, I became a fairly good salesman too. No bragging, just a fact. Ha!


    1. David, Thanks for your comments on the ‘Selling’ blog. Until I heard the definition I quoted for selling, I never really liked the idea. It seemed to have the salesman’s best interest ($) in mind rather than a sincere interest in meeting needs of the potential customer. Nightingale’s definition was a ‘paradigm shift’ for me. Yes, I agree that you truly are a very good salesman. Keep on keeping on!


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