The Key to Selling

There will always be material motives behind some of what we do. How can we reach a point where the motive to serve Hashem is more exciting than the material motive?

5 min

David Ben Horin

Posted on 01.02.22

Do not be as slaves, who serve their master for the sake of reward. Rather, be as slaves who serve their master not for the sake of reward. Ethics of the Fathers (1:3) 



“That isn’t my color. Show me another,” grumbled the sister.  


“That isn’t my size, it makes me look old,” rattled the cousin.  


The family was about to go to their fourth wedding in six months. They were in a pickle. They didn’t want to be seen wearing the same clothes for the fourth straight occasion, but they didn’t have the money to buy another round of fancy attire. 


My wife works at a special store. It’s run by the local Chabad House. Noticing that people don’t like to wear the same outfit over and again to major events but don’t have the money to buy a wardrobe of things for every occasion, they operate a unique boutique store.  


The store will go to families and “collect” outfits they wore to too many occasions, then loan it out to people who never had those specific items in their wardrobe before.  


People come in and try on anything they want. They choose what they like and give a deposit. After they’ve dry-cleaned what they wore and return it, they get their deposit back.  


Families can wear all varieties of gowns and accessories for just the cost of dry cleaning.  


One family didn’t understand this. They thought my wife was trying to sell to them.  


For a full hour they were standoffish. Nothing was good enough. Every minor detail was reason for them to argue.  



The Revelation 


When everyone but the grandmother was in the fitting room, the matriarch asked my wife, “So, what’s your commission?” 


She told her the truth, “We are a staff of volunteers. None of these items are sold. Nobody makes any money on this.” 


Tears started to stream down her cheeks.  


A minute later, the aunt came out with a look of indignant outrage. She took a deep breath, ready to unleash.  


Before the first syllable escaped, grandma shot her a firm glance. Immediately, she retreated into silence.  


“Did you know that she is a volunteer?” 


The aunt was shocked.  


“This is a beautiful dress. I’ll take it. Thank you.” 



The Realization 


This teaches us a classic lesson in selling.  


When you convince a prospect that you are doing it for nothing, they drop their defenses and are ready to listen to you sincerely.  


In order to become a salesman, you have to work for free.  


For those selling luxury jet planes, you can exhale: There is another way.  


As long as your prime motivation is to serve, people won’t feel like they are being sold.  


Tom Hopkins, a seasoned sales trainer says: “Salespeople are in the service business. We are problem solvers.”  


The moment you convince someone that you are serving rather than selling, you have the opening to make a real attempt to do good by them. The instant they believe that it’s not about the money, but about making them better off, they will relax.  


The moment my wife’s clients discovered that she isn’t in it for money, but to give them something they need, they reciprocated in kindness.

I heard a story about two women of color who, in 2012, went to the center of America to campaign white farmers to vote for Barrack Obama. They told horror stories about the responses they got. Until they met a man at dusk. He saw that they were tired so he invited them in for dinner.  


When they told him what they were there for, he started to laugh. Then, one of the campaign volunteers asked him, “What do you need from your leader?” 


He spent the next hour talking about the challenges he faced running a farm, running a family. All these two ladies did was listen. At some point, the man felt like they weren’t there to tell him who to vote for, but to hear what he needed.  


The dinner ended and he drove them to the train station. His last words to here were, “You know, I’m probably not gonna vote for your man. But I just may.” 


Did two African American women convince a white farmer to vote for Barrack Obama after four years of his presidency? They made him feel that what was important to him was the most important to them.  



The Redemption 


How many of us try to sell God? 


Like the yetzer hara trying to sell us on sin, it’s never direct 


If our financial situation shakes a little, we add extra time to our learning. We put extra intent inside our prayers.  


That’s OK.  


Hashem tells us in Devarim that He will make life harder for us as a gift so we will come closer to Him.  


Part of our service to Hashem is based on us trying to sell God on giving us more. It’s human nature.  


Just like the top salesman whose secret to success is that his primary motivation is not money, but helping people with the benefit of what he is providing them, for us, it’s about serving Hashem.  


A potential buyer doesn’t know what we need. He doesn’t know that if they buy our state-of-the-art widget, we will be able to make the next mortgage payment. He doesn’t know that if they decide to go online for that next strat-o-matic, we have to go deeper into debt.  


Hashem knows. 

Hashem is the only “buyer” Who knows our situation. He is the only “buyer” where we don’t need to sell. We can tell Him directly what we need, pledge to do better in our life, and He will answer us.  


Remember: In sales, people will say NO five times before the ultimate yes. It’s called an objection. If they object because of the color, that’s a no. It’s up to you to say, “If I could get it for you in your favorite color, would that be better?” 


If they say, it’s too much money, you can reply, “What about a payment plan? If you could own this with less financial friction, would you like to?” 

Every “no” is a clue as why they aren’t ready to say yes.  


When we ask Hashem for something and the answer is no, we are obligated to do the same.  


“Father, is there something wrong? If my prayers aren’t good enough to merit redemption from this situation, or improvement in something, what if I gave more charity?” 


“I see. Still not enough. What if I found something in my life that needs work? I know I am hot-tempered and stopped trying to calm down. What if I were to really work on that?” 


With God’s help, we can find the reason why, make changes, and close the deal.  


That’s the ticket to life. 


That’s the key to Mitzvot.  


Embrace the fact that there will always be material motives behind some of what you do but have greater intent to use that motivation to serve God. Strive to reach a point where the greater intention is more exciting than the material motives. 


Make the serving greater than the selling and in this world and the Next World – you’ve got it made.  


Thank Hashem for the moment of desperation in your life that you can scream out to Him with greater depth and genuine sincerity.  



David Ben Horin lives in Afula with his wife and children. Since moving to Israel in 2002, David has discovered Torah, writing hi-tech, hiking, coding ReactJS Apps, and hearing stories about the Land of Israel from anyone excited to tell them. Check him out on Highway 60 or email him your favorite Israel story  at: 


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