Book Distribution techniques

BY VAISESIKA DASA

“There is sufficient merit in our books that if you simply describe them sincerely to anyone, they will buy.” -Srila Prabhupada

The Steps

Qualify your prospect with a question

Q: How do I stop people to give them a book?


A: Ask them a friendly question. Your question will not only attract their attention but when they answer it, they will feel more qualified to look at the book.

Q: What does it mean to qualify people and how will it help me?

A: It means to make people feel that they’ve been selected for a reason and not just at random. You are mostly approaching complete strangers. If you don’t qualify them, they won’t know why, out of the blue, you’re handing them a book. Feeling unqualified, they will most likely reject it. But when you ask them a simple question first, and then listen to their answer before handing them a book, they’ll feel that they’ve been chosen to look at it for a reason. They’ll feel qualified.

Example:

Distributor: “Excuse me, do you live in San Francisco?”

Prospect: “Why yes, I do!”

Distributor: (While extending the book and placing it in the prospect’s hand . . .) “Oh, good, then let me show you one too.”

NOTES:

Q: What if the prospect says, “No, I’m from out of town”?
A: It works either way. You’d still say, “Oh, good, then let me show you one too.”

The point is that whatever the prospects say in response to your question qualifies them to look at the book.

“Show” versus “Give”

It’s important not to create the false impression that you’re giving them a free book, and then go on to ask them for a donation. Therefore, rather than “Let me give you one of these,” it is much safer to say “Let me show you one of these.”

A question is a powerful communication tool. It is sometimes called a “verbal hook” because, paradoxically, it allows you to gently lead the conversation. Hence, the age-old advice: “Whoever is asking the questions is controlling the conversation.”

Example:

Prospect: “Why are you doing this?”
Distributor: “You believe in God, right?”

(In this case, you’ve answered your prospect’s question with your own question. Asking your own question in response to his allows you to reframe and move the conversation in the direction you’d like it to go.)

Trust the Hand

Until you give your prospect a chance to hold the book, there’s a very good chance that he’ll walk away without buying it.

Many new distributors hold back, feeling timid about actually placing the book in the prospect’s hand.

Practice until you get used to placing the book into a person’s hands. Soon you’ll see that it’s natural, because the hand’s tendency is to take what is offered to it.

All the senses and limbs of the body have their natural tendencies. The eyes look, the ears listen, the feet walk, and the hands grab. That’s their job, and they do it well.

We’ve seen thousands of cases in which people who seemed hesitant to look at a book became surprised after their hands had taken the book in spite of themselves.

But once they have the Bhagavad-gita in hand, they’ve made a psychic connection with you and the book. And since the Gita is Krsna Himself, the recipient often undergoes a change of heart just by holding the book for even a few seconds. Srila Prabhupada said that if they even touch the book they make advancement:

“And if somehow or other we place some literature in a person’s hand, that person becomes fortunate.”

Note:
You can leave the book in the prospect’s hands and show it to him as he holds it. Or, as many distributors prefer to do, you can gently take the book back into your hands, saying, “Here, let me give you a quick look.” A third option is to leave the Gita in the prospect’s hands and show her another copy that you hold in yours.

Show and Tell

Next, show and briefly explain:

• A few select pictures
• The Sanskrit, translations, & purports • The famous people who have read the Gita • A couple of university reviews • The number of Gitas printed

Showing the pictures:

Srila Prabhupada went to great lengths to include pictures in all of his books. He said that these pictures are “windows to the spiritual world.”
Pictures are perhaps the best tools we have for explaining the Krsna consciousness philosophy.

Remember, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

The Changing Body (PLATE FIVE)

Start by showing the picture of the changing body. Point to the baby’s body at the beginning of the sequence and say,

“See, we all start off here.”

Now, making a sweeping motion with your finger, starting from the picture of the baby and ending at the picture of the old man’s body and finally the dead body say,

“And we all end up here.”

Conclude with,

“See, we’re all just passing through.”

Note:

If you’ve seen this picture many times, you may have come to take it for granted. However, you’ll find that most people who see this presentation for the first time are fascinated by it. The Changing Body is by far the most popular exhibit at The Festival of India. You might even notice that some people have a visceral reaction to it. People rarely visualize the entire span of their lives. However, with this simple presentation, your prospects will literally see their entire lives passing before their eyes.

The Three Modes of Material Nature (PLATE SIX)

Show the picture of the two men being controlled by the three modes of material nature. Krsna is at the top. Below Him are the three modes personified who, like puppeteers, are controlling two men below them with a series of strings.

Explain the picture:

“This picture shows that we are all controlled by three modes of nature — goodness, passion and ignorance.”

Now point to each of the modes in succession saying:

“Goodness brings wisdom, satisfaction and peacefulness.”

“Passion brings the desire to get ahead in life and the impetus to work hard to get more material stuff.”

“And ignorance brings sleep, laziness, intoxication and the tendency to put things off.”

Then ask them:

“Which one do you think influences you the most?”

Sample responses:

Prospect: “I think I’m goodness.”

You: “You look like you’re in goodness. I can see it in your eyes.”

If they indicate that they’re most influenced by passion or ignorance, you can say:

“Me too! Actually, we’re all under these modes to some degree, aren’t we?”

Humble Sage (PLATE SEVEN)

Next, show the picture of the humble sage who sees with equal vision the brahmana, cow, elephant, etc.

Say,

“Here’s a picture of the spiritually advanced person.

“A spiritually advanced person treats everyone with respect because he or she sees that the body is only a dress for the soul and that God is in everyone’s heart.”

Note:

Most people agree with this definition of a spiritually advanced person and especially like the concept that such a person has respect for all.

The Body as a Chariot (PLATE NINE)

Next show the picture of the soul as a passenger on the chariot of the body.

Explain that each one of our senses is like a powerful horse, the reins are our like our minds, the driver like our intelligence, and that we, the soul, are like the passengers on this chariot-like body.

Point out that yoga, as taught by the Bhagavad gita, teaches us how to bring the senses, mind and intelligence under our control.

Finish with,
“If our horses — the senses — are out of control, we’re in for a very wild ride!”

The Sitting Yogi (PLATE TEN)

The next picture to show is that of the yogi sitting with matted hair and long fingernails, as his soul is leaving this world through the top of his head.

In a light-hearted way, just point to the picture and say,

“This guy’s been sitting here for a while, eh?”

Karma (PLATE TWELVE)

Next, show the picture of the man with a cow’s face, getting ready to butcher the cow with the man’s face.

Say,

“You’ve heard of Karma, right?”

Then, using your index finger for emphasis, draw a circle in the air while saying,

“What goes around comes around.”

Sanskrit, Translation and Purport

Next, turn to any verse in the Gita, point out the Sanskrit text, and say,

“This is the ancient Sanskrit language. It’s a very precise and complicated language that very few people know these days. The author of this book has unlocked all of its secret meanings given here in the translations and purports” (point to the translations and purports).

Name Dropping

Next, turn to the back cover of the Gita and point out the names of Thoreau, Emerson, and Gandhi as you say,

“The Gita has been read by great thinkers throughout history.
You’ve heard of Thoreau, Emerson and Gandhi, right?”

Finally add,

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Einstein also studied the Gita.”

University Reviews

Next, turn to the first couple of pages in the front of the Gita and point out the reviews by scholars and academic institutions.

Point to University of Southern California and Georgetown University and say,

“You’ve heard of USC and Georgetown University, right?”

“This book is used in major universities all over the world.”

Printings

Next, turn to the page near the front of the Gita that shows “previous printings (790,000) and current printing (2004: 80,000) and say,

“See, we’ve printed nearly a million copies of this book for distribution here in America. We also have them in many other languages.”

Asking for a Donation

By this time, your prospect will have understood the great value of the Gita and will want a copy of her own. Now you can explain what she can do to take the book home.

Now, as you gesture toward your prospect, say,

“My job is to select the nicest and most intelligent people to show these to.”

Then,

“We do this as a benefit to spread love for God and to propagate spiritual knowledge all over the world.

“So people give donations to help our work and to help us out with the printing costs.

“After printing, tax, shipping, & handling, the book costs us around eight dollars. Most people give between ten and twenty to help us out.”

Variations on Donation Requests

“We do this to systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society at large and to educate people in the techniques of spiritual life in order to create real unity and peace in the world.”

“So people give donations to help our work and to help us out with the printing costs.

“After printing, tax, shipping, & handling, the book costs us around eight dollars. Most people give between ten and twenty to help us out.”

______

“We’re helping people in suffering conditions so we ask everyone to give a donation.”

“After printing, tax, shipping, & handling, the book costs us around eight dollars. Most people give between ten and twenty dollars to help us out.”

Other Presentations

Gratitude

“This book teaches about bhakti yoga — the yoga of gratitude.”

“Have you noticed that when you have gratitude, it doesn’t matter what your external surroundings are, you’re always happy?”

“And on the other hand, if you don’t have gratitude, no matter how many material things you have, you can’t be happy.”

God

“These are spiritual books meant to awaken our pure love for God. You Believe in God, right?”

The Happiness Within

“This book teaches that real happiness comes from within your own heart because God is in everyone’s heart.”

“Nowadays, we have fast Internet, five-lane freeways, and skyscrapers. But are people any happier than they were before these things existed? That’s because real happiness comes from within.”

Objections

In a Hurry

They say:

“I’m in a hurry.”

You ask:

“Are you in a big hurry?”

They say:

“Yes.”

You ask:

“Do you want me to show this to you really quickly then?”

Note:

Remember, answering an objection with a question allows you to reframe the issue, giving you a chance to show the book in spite of the objection. Become a Master Asker.

Religious Objections

Born Again Christians

Note: Most times, a born again Christian will inform you that he or she is “born again” or that he or she “only follows Lord Jesus Christ.” We recommend that you not spend a lot of time with these well-intentioned folks. They are not usually good prospects and if you don’t learn how to break away quickly you’ll waste a large portion of your preaching time listening to them explain their dogma.

Here’s how . . .

They say:

“I’m a born again Christian.”

You say:

“Oh, that’s wonderful. We need more people like you in the world. It’s people of faith like you who are keeping the world afloat.”

Note:
At this point it’s best to smile and let them go on their way.

Don’t believe in “organized religion.”

They Ask:

“Is this about religion?”

Note: Most times people who say they don’t believe in “organized religion” will ask this question. What they really mean to ask is, “Is this another one of those cheating religions?”

You say,

“No. This is the opposite. In religion, they tell you what to do. This book points out that it’s your duty to find out the truth for yourself. It’s all inside of you.”

Price Objections

They say:

“I don’t have any cash.”

You say:

“We generally don’t take cash. Most people use a credit card.”

Note:
You should be set up to accept credit cards.

They say:

“I don’t have any money.”

You say:

“That’s all right, just give what you can. And if you’d rather, I can give you a smaller book that costs less to print.”

Note:

When people say, “I don’t have any money,” it usually means that they’re not sure how much they should donate or that the amount you’ve suggested to cover the cost of printing the book is too high for them.

Lasting Impressions

Our top objective is to leave everyone with a good impression. Make sure to do your best to leave each person feeling that you are his or her well-wisher and that you’re out there to give them something valuable.

Be humble and considerate. Remember that you’re in public and that people are watching you. Everything you do and say matters.

People will form an opinion about the “Hare Krsna’s” based on your behavior towards them. Become an ambassador of goodwill. Make friends with people as much as possible.

Parting words matter

Say (even if they can’t donate):

“Thank you for taking your valuable time.”

“It was an honor meeting you.”

Smile. Wave to people and wish them a good day. Be friendly to everyone. Give compliments liberally.

Note: If you keep speaking positive words like this to everyone you meet, more people will be naturally inclined to say yes.

Fan the Spark

After someone gives a donation for a book, you have an ideal opportunity to teach him or her the Maha Mantra.

You say:

“Do you believe in the power of prayer?” (You can substitute the term, “mantra” for “prayer” if you’re dealing with an agnostic.)

They say:

“Yes.”

You say:

“Great. Let me teach you this ancient prayer that comes from the Sanskrit language.”

Now hand them a card with the Maha Mantra on it and ask them to repeat after you:

“Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.”