Selling the Dream

Selling the Dream

by Guy Kawasaki

ISBN: 9780887306006

Publisher HarperBusiness

Published in Business & Investing/Management & Leadership

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Sample Chapter

Chapter One

Evangelism is the process of convincing people to believe in your product or idea as much as you do. It means selling your dream by using fervor, zeal, guts, and cunning.

In contrast with the old-fashioned concept of closing a deal, evangelism means showing others why they should dream your dream. This chapter further defines evangelism and then contrasts it with traditional sales to illustrate its effectiveness.

Selling Dreams

You can be rich, you can be powerful, and you can be famous, but you won't amount to much of anything until you change the world. If you have always wanted to be somebody, it's time to get more specific. People who are changing the world understand the techniques of evangelism that I am about to explain.

If you look up evangelism in Webster's dictionary, you'll find "Any zealous effort in propagandizing for a cause." The notion of any effort understates the commitment necessary to become an evangelist, and because the word "propagandizing" has acquired negative connotations, a better definition is

Evangelism is the process of spreading a cause.

This definition is adequate, but it still doesn't convey the passion of evangelism. I rejected a few other possibilities along the way: "Evangelism is getting anyone to do anything at any time at any cost," and "Evangelism is sticking your hand into the chest of your enemy and ripping his heart out." Finally I settled on

Evangelism is the process of selling a dream.

Selling a dream means transforming a vision - that is, an insight that is not yet perceptible to most people - into a cause and getting people to share that cause. Thus, evangelism is the purest form of selling because it involves sharing ideas, insights, and hope in contrast to exchanging goods or services for money.

Evangelism is more potent than traditional sales because the goal of evangelism is sharing more than personal gain:

  • Evangelism yields long-lasting and dramatic changes. Sharing ideas, insights, and hopes fundamentally changes relationships, while making a quick sale, getting on an approved-vendor list, or increasing membership does not.

  • Evangelism sustains itself. When people believe in your cause, they sustain it during difficult times and against all comers. Evangelists huddle together regroup, and attack again.

  • Evangelism grows. Evangelism makes a cause snowball as more people adopt the same beliefs. These newly converted evangelists find and train more believers.

Free associate with the following concepts. Compare your responses to the phrases in each column: traditional sales versus evangelism.


10 percent
Traditional Sales

Make money
Sell to
During work
8 A.M.-5 P.M.

Make history
Change the world
After work

To the luckiest of people, a time comes when they join or launch acause that forever changes their lives and the lives of others. Losingyourself in a cause is delicious and intoxicating. The best word to describe the sensation is "crusade." Let me illustrate by telling youabout my crusade.

The MacIntosh Crusade

Get me the best collection of software in the personal computer business.

- Steve jobs

Cupertino, California. September 1983. When Steve jobs, the chairman and founder of Apple Computer and general manager of the Macintosh Division, issued the edict above, we didn't have a finished prototype. We didn't have documentation. We didn't have technical support. We did, however, have a dream to increase the productivity and creativity of people, and we did believe in the power of evangelism to get software for Macintosh, Apple's soon-to-be-announced personal computer.

On January 24, 1984, Apple introduced Macintosh and declared war on the status quo of personal computing. On a superficial level, Macintosh was merely another personal computer. Like any other personal computer, it was an assembly of plastic, metal, rubber, glass, and silicon.

Initially, many people condemned Macintosh and Apple as losers. Macintosh didn't have software. It was cute and easy to use but flaccid. It was a joke computer from a joke company. Apple's primary competition, IBM, was potent: thirty-five times larger, decades older, and embraced by business people.

Unlike most other personal computers, however, Macintosh ignited a wave of fervor and zeal in early adopters, hobbyists, and college students who didn't care about "standards," in third-party, software developers, and in Apple employees. Why? Because Macintosh made its users feel more effective. They could do old things better; they could do things they could not do before; and they could do things they never dreamed of.

Mike Murray, the Macintosh Division director of marketing, first applied evangelism to Macintosh in mid-1983 when he created jobs for people he called "software evangelists." They were Apple's kamikazes who used fervor, zeal, and anything else to convince software developers to create Macintosh products. I should know. I was one.

The software evangelists did more than convince developers to write Macintosh software. They sold the Macintosh Dream. The software developers who bought into the Dream (and only some did) created products that changed Macintosh's principal weakness - a lack of software - into its greatest strength - the best collection of software for any personal computer.

Only a few Apple employees were officially software evangelists, but many Macintosh owners adopted the Macintosh Dream and became unofficial evangelists. Luckily for Apple, Macintosh generated an emotional response unlike that of any other personal computer. This response carried Macintosh through a shortage of software, poor initial sales, and brutal competition with IBM.


Excerpted from "Selling the Dream" by Guy Kawasaki. Copyright © 1992 by Guy Kawasaki. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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