Bonus Content

Sales Lessons from the Presidential Race

By John Chapin

While this election year is putting a spotlight on some qualities of candidates that no one should want to emulate, there are also qualities on display that salespeople can find value in adopting; here are four:

1. Put yourself out there.
Successful politicians are great at putting themselves out there and letting everyone know they are there. They have mastered the primary fear that stops most salespeople: the fear of rejection. Successful politicians don’t take things personally and they have thick skin. Insults and other slings and arrows seem to roll off their backs. They aren’t afraid to speak their minds and they have confidence, conviction, and a healthy impression of themselves. They know that regardless of what others say and think, success means getting out into the world and being seen and heard by as many people as possible.

Those who are going to be successful in sales must demonstrate these same qualities. They must force themselves out into the marketplace each and every day and be heard. They must let go of the fear of rejection, embarrassment, or whatever other fears they have by acting in spite of them. They must develop a thick skin and realize that if success in sales and the resulting rewards were easy, everyone would be doing it.

2. Meet lots of people.
Politicians on the campaign trail are laser focused on meeting and talking to as many people as possible. They are not focused on the people they already know and whose vote they have, they are looking to meet strangers and win them over. While they don’t snub the people they already know and have in their camps, they spend as little time as possible talking to these people. Their No. 1 objective is meet new people and sell those people on why they should get their vote.

The biggest reason salespeople fail is due to a lack of activity. More specifically, they don’t talk to enough people. Yes, sales is a numbers game. While relationships are extremely important, in order to have the number of relationships you need, talking to tons of people is key. Salespeople must a daily goal for the number of new contacts they are going to make and then, like the politician, be laser focused on hitting that number no matter what.
3. Differentiate oneself.
Politicians know that if they are going to lay claim to the most powerful office on the planet, they must differentiate themselves from the rest of the crowd. They work on their value statement. They study their competition. They are scripted and they are usually pretty good at knowing how they differ from everyone else in the field. They prepare for the debates by reviewing what questions they are likely to get asked, studying who they are up against, and role-playing comments, answers, and responses.

Similarly salespeople have to know why they, their products, and their companies are the better choice. A salesperson must ask him- or herself: How am I unique? That salesperson is the one thing the competition does not have and it’s critical to be able to articulate why it’s extremely important that the prospect ends up with him or her vs. the competition. Salespeople must know all the differences between them, their products, and their companies vs. what the competition has to offer. Once all of this is in place, script everything and practice it until can be delivered clearly and confidently. 

4. Commit.
Politicians on the campaign trail are definitely committed. Their rigorous schedule has them visiting many cities, and usually several states, each and every day. They are sleep deprived, void of most luxuries, and endure all the displeasures that come with constant travel. Their pursuit also requires that they place the rest of their lives on hold including family and friends. In order to stay sane and keep up the pace they need to keep up, politicians must be passionate about what they’re doing. They must be completely committed and they must be willing to sacrifice all other areas of life in the short-term. 

Especially for those new to sales, an industry, or a company, life is going to be out of balance in the beginning. There may also be times when the economy, market, or industry take a hit and working extra hours becomes the norm. Sales never has been a 9-to-5 job, and it isn’t for the faint of heart. Those who want to succeed have to commit by making some sacrifices. They also need to know why they are doing what they’re doing and why they are passionate about the struggle and eventual reward ahead. Those who have families need to make sure everyone is on board—something that should be cleared up before accepting the job.

John Chapin has 24 years of sales, customer service, and management experience and
is an award-winning sales speaker, trainer, and coach. He is also a sales rep in three industries and the primary author of the gold-medal-winning “Sales Encyclopedia.” To reach Chapin, find a free white paper on what it takes to be successful in sales, and subscribe to his monthly newsletter, visit

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