How to Organize Product Sales when your Church has Guest Speakers

We have been selling product at special events for our church’s guest speakers for over 20 years. Among others these include Randy Travis, Billye Brim, Gary Smalley, John Maxwell, Phil Driscoll and Carman. As a selling team, our desire is to sow into these ministries and serve our congregation by obtaining resources to enrich their lives.

During this time we have had to contend with the following:

–         very small sales area (1-2 tables)

–         high traffic entrance/exit

–         15-20 minutes between services and

–         changes in buying habits.

With lots of “tweaking” we have developed an organized system that transfers these goods, quickly, precisely, smoothly and efficiently to our congregation. Concurrently, we have identified what has worked and what has been counterproductive for our guest’s sales.

(Before proceeding, we’d like to acknowledge that Jesus did overturn the money-changers’ tables that were inside the Temple in all 4 gospels. Therefore, if this is a “for profit” enterprise such as setting up a fast-food franchise on the church grounds, this would apply. However for our purposes, we help connect rare Godly resources mostly unavailable to the body of Christ!)

Attention: Guest Speakers

1) Products sell best when they are not too expensive – $1 to $30. It is best when everything is priced in even numbers, like $5, $10, $15, $20. Some will buy expensive items $50+ if the need and value is there.

2) People want to buy “New Products.” When returning to a church, people are greatly attracted to new products. These always sell best. You might sell some “old” stuff but as potential buyers glance at the table seeing nothing new – they leave.  Buyers must be able to identify the “new”!  Sure, you’ll usually sell a few old things, but is it worth the hassle?

3) Real deals work (but aren’t necessary). Ex: “Each of these 4 books (or CDs) are $20, but today, because I really want to help you learn these concepts, we have a special package price for all 4 (CDs or books). They’re only $65 instead of $20 each.”) A package price must be a real deal – today and today only.

4) More is sold when there are fewer choices. For the most part these are impulse purchases. The fewer the choices, the faster their decision and the quicker they leave the table(s) allowing other buyers to gain access.

Here’s an example: One guest had only 3 items which were priced the same. He explained each quickly from the pulpit and the result was one of the highest sales we ever had. Another guest brought many-many products. The resulting sales were tepid.

5) A concise bullet-point sheet explaining each product’s contents should be included with the instructions. Sales people are approached with requests like “give me the CD/book that talks about that marriage thing.” The sales people have to quickly interpret the question, then match the request with the product.

6) If the Pastor tells the congregation to visit the table – they will!

7) Guest Speakers should explain the benefits of products, to the congregation what is in them and how it will improve their lives. (“This book shows exactly how . . !  As you learn these principles, it’ll . . !)

Incidentally, it is a nice touch to acknowledging the volunteers who sell your products. When you do, you are never forgotten by them.

Location (Table) Selling for Guest Speakers Products

8) Access to a table should be from the front and sides only. After a place has been selected, hopefully there can be a counter or table in back so access to the cash box, certain sale items and credit card machine are limited.

9) Make certain an adequate supply remains before “touting” a product to the church. Notify the guest speakers before/between services of shortages. (It wastes the opportunity if what is announced is unavailable.)

10) People need to be told what to buy before they approach the table. We can serve them fast, so we can get to the people behind them. Those wanting to purchase something, but can’t make up their mind, clogs the area, inhibits sales to . Those who know what they want, often get discouraged or distracted leaving when they can’t get access.

11) Place product on the table in order from least expensive to most (when possible). Having small price tags on a sticky tab behind the product on the table, helps sales people properly price the product. This is VERY important when numerous items are available with different prices. This provides instant information to additional sales people when demand is high.

12) Have fast credit card machine(s). Fewer and fewer people are paying cash or check. Credit card machine must be fast. Person having customer sign for the credit-card purchase must match the person’s name to the card. All selling should know what credit cards are accepted. (Sorry, we don’t take the Diner’s Card.”)

13) Handle sales in assembly-line fashion. Credit card purchases take longer than cash. We’ve found it easy to line up credit card purchases with credit card stacked on the product. Move them along as on an assembly line. Here’s the people needed:

a) One person (skillful at addition and handling cash) accepts money and checks while lining up credit card purchases. Rather than handling money out of a change box, holding cash in the hand is much faster. Fives should be at one side with Singles at the other with larger bills in the center. When fast cash sales are expected, having a box hidden under a table can allow large bills to be quickly thrown in, assuring they won’t be accidentally given to customers.

b) Next person(s) who is (are) dedicated to the credit card machine(s). Person(s) also gets the charge slip signed providing the credit card, receipt and merchandise to the customer.

c) It’s helpful to have an available person to handle issues including obtaining more change; fixing the credit card machine or getting more product.

d) Finally, those not part of the selling process should stand outside the selling area.

14) Large denomination bills can cause concern and jam a cash box. At the suggestion of Knox McCarren, a merchandise professional, we drop large bills and checks into a container (a product box is usually available) under a covered table.

15) Plenty of change should be available. Many people get paid on Fridays, so have $50 and $100 bills. (Sundays most people will have $20 bills. During the week they’ll have more lower denomination bills.)

16) When the guest is available to sign CDs and books outside the sales area, people are drawn like a magnet. They can sign books or CDs to one side or another outside the booth. (A black “sharpie” should be available for this purpose and possibly a little waist-high table.)

17) It’s best when all products are sold, so there is very little to inventory or ship back. Label what is inside each box. When possible keep extra stock in unopened boxes so they can be inventoried quickly. (Volunteers dislike staying an extra 2 hours to do inventory.)

Guest Speaker Product Sales is a Ministry

Your goal should be to serve people quickly as you sow into the ministries by quickly and efficiently transferring essential product to ALL people who need it. We hope these guidelines (certainly not rules) will help your ministry prosper!

© Edwards Business Associates

Photo by brewbooks

Photo by City Temple SDA Church, Dallas, Texas