Three lessons sales teams can learn from political campaigns

Try as we might, it seems almost impossible to avoid politics during a presidential election year. As casual observers during these final weeks before election day, we might be able to cope better with the politicking if we try to glean lessons from the “selling of the candidates,” to borrow from Joe McGinniss’s famous book title, especially as they relate to sales.

Three campaign approaches that stand out as most transferable to business sales are visibility, perseverance, and consistency.

Let’s first examine visibility. Relationship building is key to sales and customer retention. Even in our electronic and Covid-restricted world, being seen is the best way to build a relationship and to build trust. Take nothing for granted. Just as a politician should not forgo campaigning in districts where the polls suggest solid support, you should not approach likely buyers lackadaisically. Be attentive to all prospects.

Perseverance is easy to understand in theory but requires mental discipline and focus in practice. Be tenacious and upbeat. There is no time for licking wounds in sales, so don thick skin and keep moving to the next target. Adopt an abundancy mindset. The pool of prospects is deep and consists of avid swimmers (easy sales), novice swimmers (indecisive prospects), and some who refuse to get their hair wet (the immovable). Like a good politician, find common ground and make the pitch from there but do not waste too much time on people vested in another camp. If this sounds arduous, it is. In the immortal words of Thomas Edison, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Be consistent in your efforts. Adopt the habit of networking, telling your story, following up with prospects, and checking in on existing clients. Place reminders and tasks on your calendar. Opportunities are everywhere, so make a deliberate effort to grasp them by creating and leveraging momentum. In his book Going In Cold, salesman and entrepreneur Chuck Piola said, “If by Wednesday, you haven’t told your story to someone new, get out and tell your story!”

Avoid procrastination. If fear holds you back, practice getting out of your comfort zone. Like timid politicians, timid salesmen are devoured. Motivate yourself through books, articles, videos, mentors, and friends, or channel some of the greats like sales guru Zig Ziglar who famously said, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing; that’s why we recommend it daily.”

Political campaigns also offer plenty of examples of what not to do in business and sales. Some of the most common include over promising and under delivering, lying, avoidance, fear peddling, and triangulation. Remember: it takes a lifetime to build a good reputation but just minutes to tear it down.

Lorraine Ranalli

Lorraine Ranalli

Lorraine Ranalli is Chief Storyteller & Communications Director, as well as published author. Her most recent work, Impact: Deliver Effective, Meaningful, and Memorable Presentations, is a pocket book of public ... Web: Details