Politicians, Sales People, and Riding Shotgun

It’s an election year.

Milton Berle once said, “You can lead a man to Congress, but you can’t make him think.” Thirty years ago, I used to teach American Government to 9th graders. I can’t imagine having to do it in the last two decade given the complete disregard politicians from BOTH sides of the aisle have for us, the people, and for the Constitution and Bill of Rights. 

Centuries ago the phrase “public servant” was coined to describe those who hold office in order to SERVE their people. Frankly, I can think of at least 535 people and many others in Washington DC who badly need to attend a customer service class! I digress.

Sales is like politics in that the real key to success is serving others. The salesperson who plays politician putting themselves first, rather than their customer, often finds the road to success/happiness full of obstacles.

I can’t tell you how many times in a buyer or seller class I get a question that begins with the words, “How do I get my client to…….” The answer is always the same: you can’t get anyone to do anything. THEY have to get them to do whatever that thing is that you want because it’s what THEY want.

Commission sales is the worst. When you’re paid only if that thing that is supposed to happen happens, it can be challenging. We (salespeople) have bills to pay, mouths to feed. And while Michael Corleone taught us that it isn’t personal, it’s business, it’s actually IS personal. And if business is slow, or finances are “tricky,” we occasionally forget how this works at its best.

In a salesperson’s finest hour, we are self-aware enough to understand that if we don’t take care of our people first, nothing else falls into place. We understand that we have to exercise empathy to be most effective. Gary Vaynerchuk says, “If I care more about you than I do about me, I begin to think and act that way.” Not an easy task, but an extremely effective one.

So, how do you do it? How do you put them first and exercise patience and empathy? How do you keep from going crazy? Being stressed?

Love the process. Work on controlling the process. Be a leader. That’s how. And then be positive enough, patient enough, loving enough, to let them make the decision(s) that will bring you both happiness.

It’s not about power, money, control. It’s the process that makes it all work. It’s their house you want them to buy, It’s their life you want them to insure, it’s their leak you want them to get fixed, it’s their country you are “trying” to serve. Put them in position to make the decision that works for them. Then, Ride shotgun. You don’t need to always drive to get where you want to go.

When they hired you (or voted for you), you said you’d help them. You probably even promised it. So, take a deep breath, have some faith, and be a leader.