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How to get involved in the colporteur ministry
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Colporteurs call it the "close"—the most exciting part of the canvass, because that is when you finish your presentation and actually sell the book. For those who are just beginning colporteur work, however, the "close" is often the scariest part of the canvass. It doesn’t have to be—not if you know the secrets to a successful "close."
First, keep your canvass short, usually three to five minutes, depending on the interest of the listener. Talk as long as necessary to satisfy your customer’s inquiries, but not so long that they grow bored or frustrated.
After you have introduced your books, you will need to give the price. Don’t act embarrassed to talk about money. Instead, remember that many people who bought books from colporteurs now thank God that they found such precious truth for such an insignificant price.
For your "close," you might say something like this:
"You are probably wondering how much these books cost. Well, if you bought them in the store they would be $______ (show them the retail price printed on the front or back of the books). But that’s not what we’re selling them for. We like to let you decide. Most folks give between $_____ and $_____ for it. It’s up to you to decide the value."1
Pause for a moment, so the person will know that you expect him or her to make a decision. If the customer is still undecided, tell a little more about the books—or review some of what you have already said. Ask, "Which books are you most interested in?" and wait for a response.
Avoid negative questions such as "You’re not interested, are you?" or "The price is too high, isn’t it?" or "You probably don’t like to read much, huh?" etc. Negative questions will put negative thoughts in your customer’s mind. Instead, try positive statements. For instance, say "I know you will really be blessed by this book," or "I’m sure that this book will really benefit you."
Don’t feel discouraged if the person refuses the first book you offer. You should get in the habit of carrying less expensive books, and perhaps free literature, to use as "drop-downs." Drop-downs should be priced significantly less than the books you first present. For example, you may want to offer something that costs about a dollar, such as Steps to Christ.2 If the customer still isn’t interested, offer a free tract. However, resist the temptation to drop down without giving the Holy Spirit time to work. Even if there is no interest at first, the customer may decide to purchase the very book he needs to lead him to the Kingdom.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Q. "Who is E. G. White?" A. 1."Mrs. Ellen G. White is a popular Christian author." [Note: Don’t blurt out all the details at once. If a simple answer is not sufficient, continue to give additional facts until your customer is satisfied.] 2."She published over 100 books and 4,500 magazine articles." 3. "She lived in the middle 1800s to the early 1900s. Her books continue to uplift and inspire people today." 4. "She was born into a Methodist family, and later joined the Advent movement of the mid-1800s."
Q."What church do you go to?" A. "I go to the Seventh-day Adventist church. People of all denominations are reading and enjoying these books. They are non-denomination-specific family books." (Remember that Ellen White was instructed to write these books for the entire world.)
Q. "What church publishes these books?" A. "These books are printed by __________ [name the publisher]. The publishers are Christians who believe the Holy Spirit will lead people to the right church."
Q. "When I buy these books, where does the money go?" A."The money goes to pay my expenses: gas, time, and the cost of the books."
Note: Objections and their answers will vary with the situation (location, financial condition, religious background, etc.). The Holy Spirit will help you with your own answers.
1. For suggestions on pricing, see Part 3 of this series, "Choosing Your Pebbles."
2. Often called Happiness Digest. Part 3 of this series lists resources for obtaining colporteur books.
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