What Sales Reps Can Learn From This Election Cycle

No matter who you’d like to see occupying the White House as the next commander in chief, we can all agree that 2016’s election cycle will go down as one of the strangest in history. Whether you like, despise or are indifferent to the choices before you, this campaign season has it all: finger pointing, name calling, picketing, smear campaigns and fightin’ words not previously seen in presidential campaigns. Aside from the entertainment value of it all, what does this political free-for-all have to offer that we can put to use here in the salesverse?

Vote for Technology
Politicians are great at using technology to broadcast their opinion on various hot-button issues. They know who their audience is and just how to reach them. In sales, if you’re not down with technology, you could be losing the race. Be open to using any and all of the technology at your disposal—from social media to CRM plugins and apps—because these tools will help you find, sell to and communicate with clients. Now, if you’ve got a method for getting out there that’s working well for you, don’t stop doing what you’re doing. Just keep in mind that technology can and should make your job easier: It can help streamline your processes, which will help you in the long run by making your life easier, and possibly bringing in more people to your camp.

Use Data
We’re constantly being fed data that shows how politicians are doing with women, with men, with minorities and the elderly, even with dogs and cats—OK, pets don’t seem to care. The data heads in the political arena churn out such precision numbers that they can often call a race based on less than 2% of the votes counted. The data are broken into class and economics, even geography. Imagine what companies and individuals working in sales could do with that kind of customer info! Oh, that’s right, we actually have access to great data, or KPIs, and can use it to forecast sales, measure performance, and deep dive into the state of our business and the performance of our staff.

Be Empathetic
News flash: Politicians can sometimes come off as insincere. But what is sincere is their attempt at being empathetic—feeling the public’s pain, being one of the little people; a regular person, just like the rest of us… except, you know, you’ve got a car payment that’s killing you every month and they’ve got a driver. In sales, you actually are one of the people. When you show your genuine concern for the wellbeing of your client or prospect, you’re embracing a powerful force: empathy. Your customers need to know that you get them, that you connect with their concerns and that you care. All of that is huge. Politicians may not have our backs all the time—they’ve got the competing interests of lobbyists and conglomerates—but you’ve got no one to answer to but the client or prospect, so take their objections seriously, earn their trust and show them you really are working with them to achieve a common goal.

Prospect Like the Best
If your prospecting ability isn’t what it could be, take a tip from the presidential candidates working tirelessly for your vote. These folks are some of the best in the business when it comes to prospecting. For one thing, they have great passion and enthusiasm for their product—themselves. They have no problem shouting from on high how great they are and how we should really “buy” them. They canvas territories; they follow through with most of their inquiries; they make calls to bring in votes and get political contributions. A shipshape political campaign does two things that we in sales should always do: go after our targets and have an ironclad conviction in our product.

On the subject of convictions, have you ever noticed how politicians have a lot of very strong ones? Sometimes they’re so strong they fall apart and suddenly Mr. or Ms. Candidate is standing behind the opposite position—while trotting out that old favorite phrase “My words were taken out of context.” They seem to need a lot of context. Never mind. The point is, here we can learn from them what not to do: While you’re out selling whatever fantastic product or service you’re selling, stand behind it, and don’t waffle, flip flop or change your position depending on your audience.

Now, may the best person win!