Telemarketing and Outreach

In 2009 I was between my ministry in Iowa and my move to Alaska. I needed to do something to pay the bills. It was a recession and a lot of people were out of work and surprisingly a preacher is not qualified to do much. I ended up working in a factory warehouse, but for 9 long weeks I was a telemarketer. It was the single most difficult job I have ever done. It took an emotional toll on me as I tried to maintain my integrity while getting sales over the phone for some interesting products and services. I did keep a notebook of my experiences so that I would never lose the insights I gained during that time. I could write numerous blog posts of the conversations I had, the products I sold and the reactions of people on the phone.

One of the biggest lessons I learned was about the number of responses. Our supervisor would announce what we were going to be selling over the coming hours. Then she would write a number on the big white board in the room. That number was our projected sales per hour. Based on research and previous experience they would calculate how many sales an average telemarketer could make per hour. The number was usually 1 or 2 with only one product getting a 3. Being the curious person that I am I asked a supervisor about the number and she told me that they company makes 600 calls or more an hour. That put us statistically in a place where each of our sales staff would be able to sell 1 time per hour. If you made that number you were paid without fear of getting fired. If you sold more than that you would get a bonus for each sale. A little motivation never hurts sales. They would track the numbers on our computer screens and one day I wrote down 3866 calls for 65 sales.

Why do I tell you all of this? Because it illustrates the “law of large numbers.” That is the concept that the more calls you make then more sales you make. If you want more sales, then you need to make more calls. This is true in telemarketing but it is also true of Christian outreach.

I know this sounds very nonspiritual. I know it could remove the possibility of prayer and divine intervention. I know someone will raise an objection. I think this truth can be devoid of Christian principles but I also think it can work in direct connection with my spiritual life. Here is what I mean. I can pray and ask God to lead me to people who need to hear the gospel. I can ask Him to put people into my path that I can invite to Church. I believe God will do that for us, but it may take me asking 600 people to get that one response.

I am not saying we need to go out and knock on doors of total strangers. I am talking about speaking of Church and Christ with every person we come in contact with each day. That might be our co-workers, the lady at the store, my children’s friends parents, the neighbor, and any other person I come in contact with. All of us have at least 250 people we have a minor connection with in the community. Some of us have way more contacts that average.

Telemarketing forced me to talk to people I didn’t know to make a sale of a crappy product and it worked because I talked to enough people. Which is why they keep doing it by the way. How much more would we be able to share the best information in the world to people we know if we just forced ourselves to do it more often. Most people tell me they have only been able to bring a couple of people to Church and no one to the Lord. Maybe we just haven’t asked enough people.


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