The campaign season is upon us and regardless of your political leanings, it's going to be a long year as presidential candidates jockey for position ahead of next year's election.
As the contenders make their case to the American people, traveling from state to state, shaking hands, and giving speeches, it occurred to us that being a sales rep is a lot like being a politician.
Here are some reasons why:
1) Getting people to like you - While many other professions involve dealing with people, working in sales comes the closest to being a politician because you have to focus on getting people to actually like you in order to do business. People vote for the guy (or gal) they "would have a beer with" almost every time, and people buy from the person they "have had a drink with" just as frequently. You can have the best product (or proposed policy) in the world, but if someone doesn't like you, they probably won't give you their money or their vote.
2) Selling benefits - Salespeople are taught to always sell the benefits of a product, instead of explaining the features. Politicians master this skill when they're presenting their vision to the public. Instead of explaining the boring details of their proposed legislation, they say it will "reduce taxes on hardworking families" or "create thousands of high-paying jobs." Politicians rightly never explain how the sausage gets made and neither should sales reps.
3) Staying positive - Politics is a dirty business, and there's no shortage of negativity that an aspiring politico must navigate to get to inauguration day and beyond. Sales reps understand that feeling better than anyone else, as constant rejection, criticism, and negative feedback are all a part of the sales process. Both successful politicians and successful sales reps must stay irrationally optimistic in the face of such negativity, or risk having it derail them from reaching their goals.
4) Prospecting - The difference between the best sales reps and everyone else is how much time they spend prospecting for new business. The same can be said for politicians with regards to votes. Salespeople and their teams canvas territories, follow up on inquiries, and make calls in an effort to bring in new business. Politicians canvas territories, follow up on inquiries, and make calls in an effort to bring in new voters.
5) Goals and deadlines - Whether a sales rep's goal is weekly, monthly, or quarterly, there is always a deadline in place to determine whether they are successful or not. It's the same in politics: the end of a term is followed by an election to determine who will be the victor. While it's a bit cynical to assume that all politicians care about is winning their next election, it certainly isn't a controversial statement to make. Sales reps also want to win, whether it's by beating their competitors, their teammates, or their previous numbers.
6) Strong convictions - Politicians who don't believe their own messages will have a hard time convincing tens of thousands of people to follow them. Those with the most appeal have strong convictions and are able to articulate them to their audience with passion. A sales rep who doesn't believe in his or her product will have a difficult time competing with a sales rep who does. When we believe in what we're doing, and what we're selling, it shows, and it makes a difference. So pick something to sell that you believe in, and don't forget to vote!
Tom is the Chief Product Officer and co-founder of AppMesh, the makers of SalesMesh. Prior to joining AppMesh, he worked for Salesforce. His favorite sales movie is Jerry Maguire and is upset that that movie never makes the list of top sales movies.
SalesMesh is the personal CRM/sales app that works the way you sell. Automatically track customer interactions, notes, schedule follow-ups, collaborate with your network, sync to and from Salesforce all from your iPhone and iPad -- even when you're offline. Learn More Here.