December 19, 2014

6 Helpful Tips for Selling Technology to Churches

Recently, one of my guest bloggers, Jeffrey Miranda, posted a great question on LinkedIn about how to approach churches to offer them church technology consulting services. I found the answers posted to his questions made for great food for thought. If you’re a pastor or church staff member reading this article, please leave your comments beneath the article! Thanks, Lauren
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My company provides church technology services that I am more and more solely offering to churches. I want to know how churches and their staff like to learn of companies like my own. I can really help many churches, and I am curious of the best ways of talking with them. I know many of you in this group are staff members or clergy. What are some effective ways that you like learning about new services that will help your church? What are good ways to approach a church and tell them more about I can help? 

For companies that provide technology consulting to churches (or any other services), like architects, etc., what are some good ways you have found to respectfully inform a church about your company? The last thing I want to come across is a salesman. I know any advice would greatly benefit me, and it might help others also.

After posing this question on LinkedIn and in talking with others recently, I compiled some of the great replies to share with you in the form of six helpful tips on selling to churches:

1) Churches want relationships. This seems to be a re-occurring theme, and one which I knew had a high level of importance. I think the more important question is how to build these relationships with churches in an effective manner. I would love to hear what others might recommend in relationship building. While I can put into practice what we do for all of our other customers, if we want to market to a particular audience, we do what will make them most interested, right? Same thing goes with building relationships.

2) Don’t aim for the senior pastor. Pastors are busy, and perhaps it’s easier to contact a music minister, or the person in charge of media, or in my case, the sound engineer. Targeting the relationship-building with someone who deals directly with the product or service you offer is key. If you only look at communicating with the senior pastor, chances are you might never have the option to start building a relationship.

3) Good service is key. My company strives to be more than just a company that sells audio gear to churches. We want to continue to provide important, even crucial services that will help churches maximize what they already have. In some cases, budgets aren’t there for major capital campaigns, and they must work within those means. This means for consultants like me, I must offer new things that will really benefit church tech teams, while keeping it economical. Good bang for the buck is important. Good response time, attention to detail, and overall customer service are critical.

4) Be transparent. If you have something to sell, it’s best to just explain what you are offering by being direct. If the church you are working with is interested, make sure to ask if they want to move forward to the next step. If not, be gracious, say thank you, and politely ask if there is a time in the future you might follow up to see if the church’s situation has changed.

 5) Respect the church’s time. Unless you’re bringing fresh baked cookies or free lunch (and have a prearranged appointment to do so), dropping in to say hi and drop off literature is not a good idea. It’s best to send an email, and then perhaps follow up with a second email or phone call; they will reply if they are interested.

6) Direct mailings are a waste of resources. Direct mailings can sometimes be effective, but most churches throw this information away. Sending an email with more information, a link to a YouTube video or the like would most likely be more effective. In addition, its best to send communication directly to the ones who actually use whatever it is that you are offering.

Jeffrey Miranda is President of NeoLogic Sound, a commercial audio integration firm based in Los Angeles.  He has over a decade of experience involved in audio, lighting, and video for worship.

About the author  ⁄ Jeffrey Miranda

18 Comments

  • Reply
    August 15, 2011

    Great article Jeff! You hit the nail on the head.

    In my experience people buy WHY you do, not WHAT you do. We have technically been “selling” technology to churches since our inception and I think the reason we have been so successful is because of WHY we do what we do. BombBomb’s Purpose or “WHY” is to “Help People Build Relationships” we do this by building technology that is Simple, Easy to Use and Powerful.

    When you take the long view, build relationships, do the right thing, be humble and share you will win. Remember this is a marathon not a sprint.

    • Reply
      August 15, 2011

      Thanks for sharing how you view relationship in light of working with churches. Great thoughts and ideas that are helpful to all!

      Blessings,
      Lauren

  • Reply
    Matt McKee
    August 15, 2011

    Great tips. We don’t send mass mailers either. We rely heavy on relationships and word of mouth. The other tool that we couldn’t live without is social media.

    • Reply
      August 15, 2011

      Yes, I would say that social media is HUGE for all of in the church technology market (as well as most other industries). I’ve never advertised or even really promoted my consulting services, and have always been blessed with business, many of which learned about what I do through social media and this blog.

      Blessings,
      Lauren

  • Reply
    Jay
    August 15, 2011

    Being transparent is an important aspect that I am glad some one else had similar thoughts on. The worst thing to do is sell a church some thing that you know as a vendor can not be implemented correctly or there is another vendor that would be better suited to their needs. When this is not done it creates skepticism in the market for churches and they do not trust vendors in the future which is understandable.

  • Reply
    August 15, 2011

    Great tips. We have been successfully selling into the church space for over 10 years. I agree with Conor’s comment that churches want relationships, but I also encourage my Sales and Marketing team that we’re not selling to a church……i.e., a building………but a person that probably has a Facebook account, banks online, owns a smart phone, and bought a gift at some point from Amazon. My point is not to use the assumption (excuse?) that “churches don’t buy that way”. Right, churches don’t buy anything…….but people that work at churches do.

  • Reply
    August 15, 2011

    I think relationships and results are key. Churches want to know other churches that you’ve worked with, and they want evidence that whatever you offer produces results they are currently able to achieve on their own. It’s a niche and you have to be committed to that niche.

  • Reply
    August 15, 2011

    Thanks for all the great responses. What I got most out of talking with church pastors, worship leaders, and others involved in the ministry was that relationships are key. Don’t expect to just walk in and sell them something. Long-term relationships are the key to success in this important market.

  • Reply
    August 16, 2011

    As a lead pastor, nothing gets my attention faster that a quick, clear and effective advantage/benefit presentation and cost analysis through a website or youtube video that is sent to me through an eye catching email. If what you are proposing to sell or provide clearly gives us an advantage over what we currently utilize, and can show me that it will be useful and cost effective for us into the future based on current and future technologies/services, then I will contact you to tell me more.

  • Reply
    August 16, 2011

    One last comment: I think Ben is correct in that churches are interested in the relationships you have with other churches. We pride ourselves on having over 2,000 clients with a 97% retention rate. Our products are not big-ticket items and usually don’t require a long sales cycle such as a church management system. Meaning, we don’t have the luxury of time to establish a deep relationship before we can sell them a software application they need. Thus, we do just walk in (actually we call) and sell them something……..but the sales advantage we possess is our long-standing deep relationships with other churches which hopefully provides our prospects a sense of comfort.

    • Reply
      August 17, 2011

      Here’s another great comment that was posted in LinkedIn:
      “As a lead pastor, nothing gets my attention faster than a quick, clear and effective advantage/benefit presentation and cost analysis through a website or youtube video that is sent to me through an eye catching email. If what you are proposing to sell or provide clearly gives us an advantage over what we currently utilize, and can show me that it will be useful and cost effective for us into the future based on current and future technologies/services, then I will contact you to tell me more.”
      Posted by Richard Jones

      –Thanks for your insight, Richard!

  • Reply
    August 26, 2011

    Two themes stand out for me and resonate very well with our approach at CCB.

    1) Relationships – Nothing matters more than this. In fact, we even strive to ensure we are building the RIGHT relationships. Our solutions are not the best fit for every church and that is OK. If we don’t align well with the goals and objectives of a church, we are happy to refer them elsewhere for the sake of a healthy relationship.

    2) WHY – This is the ball game in my opinion. If a sales process (on either side) is focused only on “what” and “how”, the most important point is missed. Every conversation we have begins with “why”. This helps us understand how each church will define success if they elect to partner with us. It also helps us serve them better by allowing our Care team to be more purposeful when we call and ask them how we’re doing.

    The only other thing I would add is this – INTENT! Your real intent MUST be to serve people and help them make the right decision, even if it is not your product or service. If it is only to close a transaction, most people will discern this and run away……fast! This is the case in almost any setting but especially with churches who base so much of what they do on trust.

  • Reply
    August 5, 2013

    We have been selling mobile apps to churches for over a year now and find that consistent communication is key. We have found that providing useful information on why we do what we do is important and how it will help them
    In their ministry. Email seems to be the best first point of communication.

  • Reply
    November 26, 2013

    Great article. We’ve begun moving our focus onto assisting churches with leadership development, marriage and spiritual counseling programs. This article affirmed some of what we suspected. I like the point about avoiding direct mail!

    Matt
    Levaire Group

    • Reply
      November 26, 2013

      Hi Matt! Glad the article was helpful to you and to the churches your firm serves. Blessings, Lauren

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