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Sales Lessons From The Presidential Race

peelNo matter what side you were on, here are a few observations, affirmations and truths, post-election, with respect to selling:

  1. Strategy and tactics are equally important.  The purpose of executing tactics in a sales campaign is to drive a well-founded strategy.  Tactics without a strategy is like playing darts with your eyes closed.
  2. Message! Not messages, messages, messages.  Decide what you are going to count on to win based upon research—a focused, objective assessment of the sales opportunity.
  3. You can successfully change the ground rules even if you temporarily lose ground.
  4. The understanding and leverage of political influence is crucial.
  5. Messages must be clear, concise and compelling and paint the vision of a better situation for the buyer.  One fumbled message can dilute the impact of a hundred perfect ones.
  6. Logic and the facts aren’t the only things buyers consider.
  7. Discipline rules.  Seat-of-the-pants doesn’t. 
  8. Knowledge of your opponent’s plan to win is vital for devising and refining your own plan.
  9. Direct and blatant “bad-mouthing-the-competition” doesn’t generally work. 
  10. Never underestimate the underdog.
  11. Want to win?  Look the part.
  12. Tell the truth before your opponent exaggerates it.
  13. Choose the right team.  The salesperson is CEO of their own virtual sales corporation.  Whom they choose to stand next to them and to advise them can make a big difference.
  14. Whomever has momentum at the time of close generally wins.  Its very difficult to build momentum just at the right time without a plan.
  15. Embrace technology. It permeates pretty much everything most of us do.
  16. Go broad and deep into the customer’s organization as appropriate. (Ideally effective marketing will have blazed the trail in advance. See the article How Better Marketing Elected Barack Obama.  Thanks, John Caddell.)  Build consensus where it matters.
  17. Don’t lose your composure or violate your own principles.
  18. Understand that energy, determination and relentless pursuit of the goal is the fuel that powers the engine.

I’m sure I missed some points.  What would you add to this list?

By the way, Newsweek’s Secrets of the 2008 Campaign has been published on their website.  It looks like a terrific read.  I haven’t tackled it yet, but I definitely will.

Photo:  © Ljupco Smokovski – Fotolia.com

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3 Responses

  1. Regarding No. 9: “Direct and blatant “bad-mouthing-the-competition” doesn’t generally work.” – My understanding from reading about the strategies and results of past elections is that this does work. This is why political campaigns do it.
    Incompetent as we think they may be, I find it hard to believe that political strategists, on both sides, decided to “waste” money with negative advertising.

  2. Santo,

    I definitely heard some of the media pundits saying that negative works. However I’ve heard others say that it’s only the candidate’s base that gets riled up and more committed to the candidate. They claim that going negative also causes the opponent’s supports to become more committed themselves.

    I’d be interested in seeing the latest research on this.

  3. I’ve got one to add to the list – “Don’t be afraid to take a vacation.” Barack was criticized for this during the campaign and it clearly didn’t hurt, maybe even helped.
    Patrick

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