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Even More Sales Lessons from the Campaign

If you’re a student of politics as I am, this primary campaign has become really exciting.Obama gains, can Clinton rebound?

Last evening Obama walked away with a big victory.  Clinton supporters will say that he won in North Carolina with fewer votes than the polls two weeks ago suggested he would.  And, that Clinton won Indiana, a neighboring state to Obama’s home state.  And, that he significantly outspent Clinton.  Those are facts.

Obama supporters say according to the rules that Clinton approved when this all started, he’s won.  They say that even with all the brand recognition and charisma Bill Clinton brings to the race, they couldn’t win in North Carolina.  Those are facts as well.

What happened?  I’m not going to pretend I’m a political strategist.  As a sales strategist, I believe that:

  1. Clinton continued to go negative on Obama.  She didn’t jump into the fray with the latest Reverend Wright activity, but she continues to discredit Obama in no uncertain terms.  This hurt her.  We learned a long time ago that most buyers don’t like when you go negative on the competition.
  2. As much of a fighter as she is, there are strong opinions that Clinton pandered to the voters in recent weeks: the gas tax holiday and her dropping her “g’s” to make herself appeal more to a certain demographic were examples I heard and read about from all sides of the race.   I’ve been involved in scores of sales campaigns where one competitor kept changing their story to fit changing perceptions and new requirements of their prospects rather than committing to a position and sticking with it.  They most often lost, especially when that behavior was trapped by a savvy competitor.
  3. Although we don’t know whether Obama was present during any of Reverend Wright’s questionable sermons, even he admits he waited too long to dismiss the Reverend.  But he admitted a mistake—we all make those—and apparently was able to put the situation behind him, at least in the eyes of enough voters to carry the day. 
  4. Clinton may yet stand a chance.  I’ve been involved in enough sales opportunities where the company in second place waited patiently for something to happen between the selected vendor and the customer.  Sometimes it was a deal-breaker point in the contract, or the customer finding out that the winner really couldn’t deliver what was promised.

 Does anyone want to make a prediction as to the outcome of the primary race?


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