This is an opinion editorial by Source Node, a former sales account manager with a background in training and industrial-organizational psychology.
When I pitch Bitcoin to a relative, to a friend or to a complete stranger in the bathroom stall next to me, they will inevitably ask, „How is this benefiting you? Are you going to make money from me buying bitcoin?“
In one sense, the honest answer is yes, but my main objective is actually to alleviate suffering.
Will any single investor buying bitcoin make my bitcoin increase in value? Not unless I’m convincing a hyper-rich communist sympathizer like Charlie Munger to hop onboard. The average investor buying $1,000-worth of BTC is not going to change the price of bitcoin. In fact, even a very wealthy investor allocating $100 million may not significantly change the price of bitcoin. In that sense, I am not benefiting directly from convincing individuals to buy bitcoin at all.
However, given the early stage of adoption that we are currently experiencing, the asymmetric upside of investing in bitcoin today has the potential to turn a relatively-small investment into life-changing financial security. For this reason, the motivation to pitch Bitcoin to people I care about is greater now than it will be in the future. The potential future which Bitcoin enables for myself and for society is the primary driving force behind my participation in the network. The prospect of living in a world of abundance, voluntary behavior and geopolitical cooperation is becoming more achievable by the block. I wish to benefit from the transition to that world and I wish for those whom I love (as well as random strangers I encounter) to benefit from it as well.
I know I am not the only one who holds this view. It seems to be a natural inclination for nearly every Bitcoiner to compulsively pitch Bitcoin to their friends, relatives and acquaintances. Unfortunately, I have seen many people become exhausted with these pitches. This exhaustion seems to slow down adoption more than support it, which indicates to me that some of what I have to share regarding sales may be helpful.
Every Bitcoiner who crosses the threshold into this decentralized organization brings with them a unique profile of knowledge, skills and interests. I have always had a passion for the discipline of sales. But as a third-generation salesman on my father’s side, I am frequently disgraced by the state of the trade. The word “salesman” often conjures up visions of a pushy vacuum peddler on your doorstep, a slippery used car dealer or an overpaid executive who is better at golf than he is at demonstrating the product that his company manufactures. This is not the vision I have of sales as a vocation or as an art.
Illustrated broadly, everyone is engaged in sales. Most sales people know this. There is nothing invasive about representing oneself in a conscious manner, sharing a vision and educating in a way that caters to individual differences. Sales is about influencing the perspectives of others to motivate behavioral change. Nowhere in that process does a salesperson have to sacrifice honesty, integrity or reputation.
Throughout this article, I will refer to anyone we might be pitching Bitcoin to as a “customer.” This isn’t meant to be cold and impersonal, but rather an illustrative metaphor. There are tools which can assist us in developing an effective approach to discussing Bitcoin with prospective customers.
The following information is a summary of what I have found to be effective in pitching Bitcoin and my best attempt at describing the attitudes which have supported the greatest success stories.
The Outer Strategy
The Bitcoin sales cycle is long. Bitcoin isn’t just sold once, it’s sold continuously every moment that a person chooses to hold it. Bitcoin is conceptualized and utilized differently by each participant in the network based on their unique needs and lifestyle choices. Due to the longevity and complexity of a proper Bitcoin pitch, I have found that “The Challenger Sale” model is especially well suited for selling Bitcoin.
“The Challenger Sale” by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson outlines research on sales performance across many industries and outlines five basic types of salespeople. The salespeople who consistently outperformed their counterparts, during strong as well as weak economic conditions, fell under the category that the book is named after. These sales people had certain traits in common and in my observation, many Bitcoiners exemplify these traits as well. I will touch on the research findings briefly, but if you want a deeper dive into nuances of the topic, I would recommend picking up a copy of the book.
“Challengers,” as they are differentiated from their counterparts, frequently hold a unique view of the world, they love to debate, they are not afraid to push the customer and they have a deep understanding of the customer’s business. From my interactions with Bitcoiners over the years, I see these qualities very frequently. Challengers also tend to find themselves in teaching roles, which is reflected through the many books and podcasts created as Bitcoin educational tools.
The challenger is well read on every aspect of the sale and can preempt arguments against their points of view. Achieving this degree of intellectual karate may lead you toward reading about economics, engineering, psychology, history, philosophy, spirituality, physics and ecology. In order to approach a topic holistically, one must understand the foundations, the arguments and the counterarguments. Be ready not just to agree or disagree, but to provide a detailed explanation of your reasoning if required.
Every person you interact with will have a different path to understanding Bitcoin. Certain key pieces of information will ignite a fire of interest in one person and have no effect on another. Learn to find these key areas of interest through practice and repetition. As a general tip, I have found that pitching Bitcoin to people close to my own age is more effective than trying to sell across generational gaps. Studying integral theory is helpful with the process of understanding customer value systems as well.
There is a critical balance to be achieved regarding debate and pushing the customer. When you are pushing the customer, keep the conversation friendly. It is possible to chip away at someone’s defenses with humor and creativity rather than by annoying or humiliating them. Emotional intelligence is required to find the right balance between pushing, pulling and resting.
It’s important to be up front about bitcoin’s performance over the short term and the long term. It is your job to carefully gauge the customer’s risk tolerance and conviction in the face of volatility. If you get the impression that someone is buying just because they trust what you are saying, tread carefully. Unless the person you are speaking with understands how to responsibly self custody and to avoid trading on leverage, you may want to dissuade them from buying in large amounts. If your customer bites off more than they can chew and gets burned, it will take them even longer to benefit from Bitcoin.
Customers who walk away from a conversation having learned something valuable are much more likely to pick up the phone and call that salesperson back. However, there is a difference between being a source of knowledge and being a firehouse of unsolicited opinions. Sometimes, the best way to start a teaching discussion is to ask some questions. Effective teaching is not a forceful process. It is your job to pique the interest of whoever you are speaking with so that they begin to request further information. Try to avoid going on extensive monologues and maintain engagement from whoever you are speaking with.
Tailoring a pitch to a grocery store cashier or to a hedge-fund manager will be very different discussions. These approaches are unique for each individual, but there are two primary categories: One approach is bottom up (related to price inflation) and the other is top down (related to central banking and market forces). Both begin with a discussion around the dollar and how it functions. Most people will dismiss Bitcoin as pointless until they understand the problem it is solving. When discussing the fiat problem, I have found that speaking rationally about poorly-aligned incentives is generally more effective than launching into a verbal summary of “The Creature From Jekyll Island.”
The corporate media has been fairly effective at turning the word “Bitcoin” into something scary. Most of the time, I don’t even say the word “Bitcoin” until I get a clear sign of engagement. Open-ended questions are an effective way to gauge the level of understanding you’re cooperating with. For example,“How much do you know about Bitcoin?” or, “If I provided you with infinite funds, describe how you would attack the Bitcoin network or stop people from using it.” Leave room for the customer to disagree with you and take their disagreement as a positive step in the debate process.
The ability to transcend political discussions makes controlling the direction of the conversation much easier. Money supersedes politics and the discussion can always be returned to the banking system. I continuously maintain that whatever political issue may be irritating the customer, it will only get worse until the money is fixed. Any effort to fix a societal problem without fixing the money is like using a bucket to throw water out of a ship without addressing the hole causing the ship to sink.
Remember to be measured in your approach. You don’t have anything to prove to anyone. Don’t forget what is most important to you and don’t get caught up in the desire to be right or to prove someone else wrong. When you’re laying on your deathbed, you won’t be kicking yourself for failing to orange pill a relative at Thanksgiving, but you might regret burning a bridge with someone you love over an unnecessary argument.
The Inner Game
Book smarts and creative problem solving are important tools, but when it comes to sales, the most critical skill to develop is emotional attunement. An effective salesperson will accurately read the emotional tone of the conversation in real time and adjust their approach as needed. There are a number of skills involved in this form of emotional intelligence, the most important of which is learning to accurately read and interpret nonverbal communication.
In my experience, the primary impediment to emotional attunement is egotistical dysfunction on the part of the salesperson. The ego is critical to human functioning and is not to be vilified, but it should not be running the show either. The degree to which a salesperson can relate to a prospective customer is a question of spiritual development more than business acumen. Nothing is more attractive or conducive to building trust than authenticity and honesty. In order to live with authenticity, we are required to face discomfort and integrate the aspects of ourselves that we reject. Without understanding your own intentions, you cannot understand the intentions of others.
Present yourself in the most transparent way possible. Deceitful action and hypocrisy are repulsive to the human spirit. The fiat system has a way of holding us hostage in situations which pressure us to compromise our values. As a result, we find ourselves alienated from our true intentions and separated from authentic relationships. Bitcoin enables us to liberate ourselves from these discouraging moral concessions, if we wish to do so.
Regardless of the behavior of those struggling to maintain a broken system, Bitcoiners can choose to persevere in equanimity. This temperament can only serve to vaporize phony criticisms of Bitcoin with the light of truth. Maintaining the higher ground will depend on a certain degree of personal and collective purification. Admit your faults and shortcomings without any reservation as soon as you perceive them. Striving to prove others wrong is a silly game which benefits no one. Striving to be effective in achieving your goals is a worthwhile undertaking.
If you let your ego enter the Bitcoin sales pitch, you are more likely to take criticisms personally and the conversation will drift into alienation. If you approach the discussion honestly and compassionately, you will create an ally rather than an enemy. I have often encountered a tremendous amount of resistance in conversations about Bitcoin and returned to that person months later to find that they have internalized much of what I said.
If the conversation remains respectful, you can walk away and let the orange marinade do its work. This is especially true as bank failures and inflation continue to draw attention to the issue at hand. Very few people are ready to change their minds in a single conversation. In fact, my recommendation would be to forego the intent to change anyone’s mind, but rather to provide information so that your acquaintance can reach their own conclusion.
When anger enters a discussion about Bitcoin, your customer will fail to see the countless hours of research you have applied to understanding the topic. If you get rattled by their questions or comments, they will only see fear, uncertainty and doubt. If you strike a condescending tone, you run the risk of pushing them away from Bitcoin rather than compelling them to learn more about it. If you feel animosity arising, take a step back and breathe.
Another common sales pitfall worth avoiding is “trash talking the competition.” It might be tempting to attack fiat currencies, stocks, bonds, altcoins or gold. Attacks like this exhibit weakness. Handling objections with grace develops confidence in the person you are speaking with. People are often very emotionally attached to their investments. Attacking them will cause the customer to double down and become much less open to hearing what you have to say. I do not denounce anyone for making certain investments, but I will gladly explain why bitcoin is likely to be superior in comparison to other assets.
“It is only against the big waves that (a surfer) is required to use all his skill, all his courage and concentration to overcome; only then can he realize the true limits of his capacities. At that point he often slips into a superconscious state and attains his peak. In other words, the more challenging the obstacle he faces, the greater the opportunity for the surfer to discover and extend his true potential. The potential may have always been within him, but until it is manifested in action, it remains a secret hidden from himself. The obstacles are a very necessary ingredient to this process of self-discovery. Note that the surfer in this example is not out to prove himself; he is not out to show himself or the world how great he is, but is simply involved in the exploration of his latent capacities. He directly and intimately experiences his own resources and thereby increases his self-knowledge.”
–Timothy Gallwey, “The Inner Game Of Tennis”
The above quote is no excuse for misleading unsuspecting financial refugees. Clown coins, vaporware and moral hazard should be dismissed resolutely. Those who support such misguided activities should be discredited mercilessly. However, all of this can be accomplished without losing your cool. Holding on to hate will not benefit you in any way. Always be ready for your detractors to switch to your side. There is no need to make it harder for them to do so by treating them in a cruel manner.
I have found it helpful to frame all forms of “altcoin” investing as gambling behavior. In this way, I can view these choices through the lens of addictive compulsion rather than stupidity or some other judgmental interpretation. I do not enable addictive behavior by accepting excuses, but I do not criticize it either. The road out of addiction is often barricaded by trauma and maladaptive assumptions. Harsh judgment does not assist in dissolving these barriers, but rather reinforces the separation between the real world and the addict.
The only reason I am able to write this article is because I have broken every suggestion in it at one point or another and witnessed the results. I may continue to break these recommendations in the future, but I maintain a continuous practice of humility, compassion and patience. Self judgment stifles growth more than it fosters it. If you punish yourself for behaving differently than you would like, your actions will become contrivances; like a child who is constantly afraid of their parent’s scorn. This will likely counteract any efforts you apply toward living with more authenticity.
Acting out of a genuine desire to enhance life will help you to root into a more authentic lifestyle. That type of authenticity is magnetic. Look inward at your reservations and intentions. If you are trying to orange pill others to convince yourself of Bitcoin’s value or to prove yourself to the world, you will be better served by reserving your opinions until you no longer have these insecurities. If you are beyond the need for approval, your rate of success will increase dramatically. Act on the truth that you know. Unlike Bitcoin, you don’t need consensus for validation.
This is a guest post by Source Node. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.