10 Reasons Why An Election Is Like A Sales Process
The shock of general election result is just one of the ways in which the election bore many of the hallmarks of the sales process. Why?
Less than a month ago the country gasped when, on the morning of 8 May 2015, David Cameron was still our Prime Minister. It was not the result anyone – the general public, the election pundits, or the newspaper opinion-makers – was expecting. The shock result is just one of the ways in which the election bore many of the hallmarks of the sales process.
In this article we’ll show you why.
The shock result
How many times has a salesperson confidently forecast a piece of business, only to then experience the shock of losing it? The Labour camp most likely forecast, at the very least, a win with the help of some sort of coalition. Yet they suffered a tremendous defeat. In sales, often you have the right product at the right price. You forecast the business because you’re convinced you’ve done all that you need to do. Yet, you still cannot beat the incumbent. In both scenarios, there are lots of reasons why it happened. In a nutshell however, something was missed. There was a “gap” in the sales process.
“Better the devil you know” is not a cliché by accident. Inertia is one of the biggest challenges in sales. Sticking to the supplier you know is often perceived as less of a risk and less costly than trying someone new. In politics the incumbent is often on the back foot. In the world of sales it’s actually a huge advantage because the incumbent has the inside track on the client.
People have a long memory…
The general population will not forget the most unpopular policies of a politician, the sound bite that went wrong, or the unflattering picture. In sales, someone in a position to influence the decision may have had a bad experience with your company years ago. They will want to ensure the experience is not repeated. It may not be relevant to how you do business now, but people have a long memory…
What’s in it for me?
Do people vote for the greater good? Or do they vote because that particular party’s policies will affect them directly? It might be a pensioner, a landlord, a taxpayer: they are all going to be wondering what the best outcome will be for them personally. In the client’s boardroom a group of decision-makers will also have their own reason for choosing you (or not). You need to know what those reasons are and you need to appeal to every one.
No contact, no contract
David Cameron used a clever sales tactic during his campaign. He drip-fed manifesto highlights over the weeks leading up to the election. Benefits for pensioners, higher earnings before taxation kicks in, a promise on the EU referendum – each of these topics appealed to different members of society. With each new announcement came a slew of new headlines, keeping the Conservative manifesto alive in the minds of the electorate. Sometimes when you’re pitching a big-ticket item to a client you give it all you’ve got. The issue with this is that you’ve then got nothing to go back to them with. Drip-feeding is a powerful tactic because it gets you repeat audiences with the client – no contact, no contract!
One of the things that the Labour campaign had to tackle was the fear mongering about them having to work with the SNP. Whether it was true or not, it gave voters – 40% of whom were undecided a week before the election – pause for thought. A fear tactic is not necessarily a good one, but in sales it’s one that the incumbent might well use. They may ask the client: do you really want to try someone new and undo all the work that’s already been done?
David Cameron brought in election “guru” Lynton Crosby from Australia. Lynton is now widely credited for having brought the Conservatives their surprise victory.
In sales we often have in-depth post mortems after we’ve lost the business, yet we don’t put the same time and effort into planning a strategy of how we’re going to win.
A clear message
Who had the clearest message in their campaign? It has proven to be the Conservatives.
Whether giving a clear message to the electorate, or getting a clear message across to the decision-makers in a company, both must be objective. Letting emotions cloud judgments either positively or negatively can mean that you miss key elements in getting that message across.
Rapport with the client is absolutely crucial. Did Ed Miliband have rapport with the electorate? I’ll leave you to answer that question!