November 5th, 2012 by user

While the outcome of the election is far from certain, and the president may in fact win re-election, if he had employed some basic sales principles over the last five ultra-competitive months, he might have a bigger lead as he races to the finish line. Here are five tenets of sales messaging that any good salesperson knows – and that could have made a difference in this election.

Control the conversation – customers (voters) are bombarded with messages. When you add too much to the pitch, or vary the message, you make it hard for the decision maker to follow. Yes the issues are many – taxes, jobs, education, infrastructure, foreign affairs — but in the debates, and in his campaigning, the conversation within each of these categories varied widely, and was hard to follow. He allowed himself to be redirected from topic to topic. You would never let that happen with a prospective customer; you would want to keep the conversation focused.

Keep the pitch simple – Obama has four or five notable successes to his credit – Bin Laden, keeping the auto industry alive, preventing terrorist attacks here at home, withdrawing troops from Iraq. He should have focused on them, and just them, and stuck with them. The best value propositions are simple and repeated so the customer really gets it.

Use customer testimonials – It’s one thing if you (the salesperson) say your product/service/company is fantastic, but even better if your other customers say it. Surely there are lots of people who appreciate and have benefitted from what Obama has done. Take Obamacare. Most of the banter is that it’s a horrible thing for America. But surely there are Americans who’ve benefitted from it. Why not put them front and center and let them speak on its behalf?

Never dis your competition – This is professional selling 101. I learned it first day on the job. Sure, you believe your product or service is better than your competitors’, and you know what’s wrong with your competitors’ products and services. But it’s not your place to tell the customer what that is. It’s up to the customer to find it out for themself. By my calculation, half of the debate conversation and subsequent campaigning was about what’s wrong with the competitor. That’s unprofessional, and it tends to backfire, reflecting poorly on you in the prospect’s mind.

Introduce change as a risk – Change is scary, so you always have a built-in advantage when you’re the incumbent vendor to your customer. You know the customer’s issues and key people and the process is in place to service and support the customer. The notion of a new vendor creates all kinds of questions and uncertainty, and it’s certainly the case when you swap out the entire Federal government from one party to another. Most people understand this concept, yet I haven’t heard the Obama campaign or Democrats bring up this point.

To be sure, politics and sales are not the same, but there are corollaries, especially when it comes to campaigning. It’s pretty much a sales process, with many of the same elements. The president may pull it off anyway, but had he and his campaign applied some basic sales techniques, he might be breathing a little easier today.

-By David Topus



  1. November 06, 2012 at 2:14 pm, Gwen Janicki said:

    I am a huge Obama supporter, and having worked in sales for several Fortune 500 companies, I found his campaign sometimes painful to watch. Campaigning IS much like the sales process and I support your thought that had he applied some of these basic sales techniques, my nails would be a lot longer this morning. Let’s all get out and vote.


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