Sales and Sales Management Blog

June 30, 2008

2008 Book Awards: Searching for the Best in Sales

The Sales Book Awards recognize books, authors, and publishers whose work advances sales as a profession.

Atlanta, Georgia June 25, 2008 — During one of their regular conversations, two avid readers, writers, and globally recognized sales experts lamented that sales books were often overlooked by book award programs and shunned by many in the publishing industry.

Jeb Blount, CEO of the sales portal, powerhouse, and Jonathan Farrington, Chairman of The Sales Corporation based in London and Paris and CEO of, who share a life-long passion for sales, decided it was time for a book award program just for sales and sales related books, ebooks, and audio books.

Farrington, who has identified and cataloged the world’s top sales experts on his website said, “Our ultimate goal is to develop and foster a wide coalition of thought leaders, educators, publishers, authors, and corporations who share our mission to recognize authors and publishers who create outstanding works which contribute to the profession of sales.”

“Advancing sales as a profession is our core mission,” said Blount. “All proceeds from corporate sponsorships and entry fees will be used to create scholarships for deserving students enrolled in University level, sales degree programs.”

He explained that across the globe there are more than 50 universities and colleges that have developed degree level programs for sales within their business schools. “The students who graduate from these programs will be responsible for growing the world’s economy in the very near future. Our desire is to play a small but significant role in helping future Sales Professionals meet their financial needs while at the same time highlighting the accomplishments of today’s key thought leaders who contribute so much to sales.”

In the spirit of their mission, Jeb and Jonathan tapped three students, enrolled in professional selling at the University of Central Florida, to design the Sales Book Awards and build the website. According to Blount, Yurani Caicedo, who will be selling for the Miami Heat when she graduates this summer, along with Bri Chmel, the 2007 Women’s World Wakesurfing Champion who will also be enrolled in the University of Central Florida Sales Track this fall, and Raymi Dick, a UCF marketing major who graduates in 2009, were the real key to bringing the Sales Book Awards to life.

The Sales Book Awards call for entries begins on June 23, 2008. Titles may be entered online at

Any publisher or author may enter books with publication dates between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2008. Books will be judged in ten separate categories and a title may be entered in up to five categories. Finalists in each category will be announced on November 15, 2008. On December 15, 2008 category winners and the Sales Book of the Year will be named.

For information go to:


June 27, 2008

Image vs Substance

A couple of days ago I received an email from a financial planner regarding an article I wrote some months ago titled “The Medium, the Message, and the Financial Planner.” The planner brought up a question about the difference between one’s image and the substance of one’s practice and questioned my assertion that a financial planner needs to develop a public image as an expert and that to do that he or she need not be technically the best in their field but rather they only need be competent.

My reader thought that I was way off the mark in encouraging less than the best to become recognized as an expert, and that by becoming so recognized, they would be damaging the profession. His complaint was that:

“(I) have spent years studying tax law, estate planning, investments, insurance, and other areas that are critical to helping a client formulate a financial plan. I’ve invested most of my adult life in becoming a real expert, not an image.

“What you call developing an expert image and reputation I call branding which in my opinion is nothing more than creating a false impression of who the planner is. I see all of this ‘marketing’ to be degrading to me and my profession. I am not a salesperson as you say in your article. I am a skilled, trained professional. I don’t market any more than a specialist physician or attorney markets.

“Certainly, there are financial planners that market their practice and many have very lucrative practices. I equate them more to the ambulance chaser than to a professional. I have no doubt that if I followed your advice I’d make more money, but at the expense of who I am, at the expense of the dignity and respect of my profession, and at the expense of my self-respect. I may not be making a six figure income, but I make a good living and I’ve done it without prostituting myself or my profession. In fact, I believe that if you and the others like you who are advocating financial planners become common salespeople would cease with your self serving attempt to sell your services, I’d be making considerably more because my expertise would come to the surface. As it is with the advice and guidance you and others give on how to market, many of the best financial planners aren’t acquiring the clients we deserve because lesser skilled planners are attracting them through their marketing practices.”

The reader had a few other comments to make, but you get the general drift of his email. Unfortunately, my experience working with thousands of advisors in the financial services industry is that he is not the only one with this view of marketing and sales.

Like most sales trainers, I get a good number of very positive emails and my share of challenging emails, but I’m not sure I get any more honest than this one. This reader is very clear on how he sees himself and his profession—and how he sees salespeople, marketing, and other financial planners who are aggressive in developing their practices.

He is also very clear on his misunderstanding of what sales and marketing is about and how business is acquired. Unfortunately, being one of the best at what you do isn’t going to bring in business. If no one knows about you, then no matter how good you are at what you do, you’re not going to thrive.

There isn’t a dichotomy between selling and marketing and being a professional, one doesn’t exclude the other. Creating an expert image through ethically sound marketing isn’t degrading or deceptive.

However, the arrogance and ignorance to believe that one is above selling and marketing is self-destructive. Being jealous of one’s competition because they are acquiring clientele you don’t think they deserve is self-destructive. Believing you warrant more business simply because you know what you’re doing is self-destructive.

Being technically competent or even being a technical expert is useless if you don’t have clients to practice on. Spending time and energy and using the strategies that create your public image and reputation as an expert is the sign of a true expert; believing you are above marketing is an indication of a lack of understanding of what marketing is and how business works.

Public reputations don’t happen by accident. They have to be nurtured and cultivated. They have to be created.

How many great financial planners are languishing in near poverty because no one knows they exist? If simply being great at what one does was enough, there would be no need for marketing, advertising, and selling. If being good was good enough, there wouldn’t be so many highly proficient technicians in every industry going out of business everyday because they are starving to death.

Success doesn’t happen because one happens to be a highly skilled technician. Success requires the acquisition of a number of skills—from the technical skills of your profession to the skills to get the word out about your existence and how you can serve the potential client. Success happens by intention, not by happenstance. Image doesn’t mean illusion and substance doesn’t mean success. Technical substance must be combined with a public image created through marketing and solidified through selling if you want to create a practice that is both professionally and financially satisfying.

June 25, 2008

Guest Article: “How to Develop Credibility–When You’re Not Credible,” by Jill Konrath

Filed under: business,marketing,sales,selling,small business — Paul McCord @ 6:23 am
Tags: , , , ,

How to Develop Credibility – When You’re Not Credible
By Jill Konrath

What are the main issues you face when you target new vertical markets where you don’t  have any experience in that area. Also, how do you overcome these problems?

I get asked those questions frequently. But usually it’s after the decision has already been made and the poor salespeople are struggling to gain a foothold in the new vertical market.

If you’re considering moving your company in a new business direction, here are my suggestions:

New Your biggest issue will be credibility. Corporate decision makers don’t want to be your first client in a vertical market. They don’t want to have to educate you since it takes up their precious time.

Even though you’re a good company, they know that your lack of experience could lead to time-consuming and costly errors. They don’t want to risk this happening.

1. Move into the market slowly.
Don’t bet your company on success in the new vertical. Study the industry. Learn their terminology. Know their competitors. Double check for “fit”. I’ve seen way to many companies leap into new markets because they sense greater opportunity there than in their current market space.

2. Define the business case.
Uncover how they’re currently handling things related to your offering. What are the common status quo scenarios? What business objectives will they have difficulty achieving unless they change the status quo? What are the financial ramifications of these? Then define the value they’ll get from changing to your product/service.

Potential clients need to hear a strong value proposition that clearly articulates the business outcomes they’ll realize by using your offering. Use business terminology, not techie talk.

3. Create linkage.
If possible, try to create a link between your current customer base and your new one. If all your clients are schools and now you want to move to theme parks, you need to be able to clearly articulate why it’s relevant.

As an example, last week I had lunch with a good friend who spent over 20 years in marketing with a large accounting firm. She was laid off a while back. Now she wants to work with technology companies.

After analyzing both industries, combined with her experience we realized that her expertise was in helping company’s implement strategic changes in their marketing. That positioning makes sense to potential decision makers – and minimizes the “you don’t have any experience with companies like mine” objection.

4. Pursue smaller opportunities first.
This significantly reduces the decision maker’s perceived risk in moving ahead with a new player in the market. Then, make sure you do a superb job on delivering on what you promised. After that, pursue additional opportunities within the account to expand your footprint.

5. Train your salespeople on all the above.
Without this knowledge, they will flop. That I can guaranteed 100%. Ultimately these people have to make it happen. Don’t send them into the field with some worthless PowerPoints explaining your technology in excruciating detail. They need to be able to have intelligent business conversation with decision makers.

6. Create field-ready sales tools.
Focus especially on the early stages of the sales cycle. Your sales reps are going to have a tough time setting up meetings. Show them how to integrate their value proposition into phone calls, voicemails and emails.

Give them relevant white papers and case studies that are closely aligned with this new market segment. They must be able to show your company’s expertise to customers, so this is a necessity – even if you’re moving to a new market.

Create a “question matrix” that outlines what they should be looking for on calls and the questions they should ask to uncover this information. Develop customer-focused PowerPoints to use on follow-up meetings.

7. Pray!
It takes a lot of hard work to succeed in a new marketing segment. Implement the above suggestions and your chances of success increase. Rush blindly ahead and you’ll most likely waste tons of money, put your firm in financial distress, frustrate your sales force and create incredible internal animosity.

Jill Konrath is the author of Selling to Big Companies, a sales trainer and speaker.  She helps sellers crack into corporate accounts, speed up their sales cycle and achieve their revenue growth goals.  Visit her website at

June 24, 2008

Have You Had an “Uh, oh!” Moment Yet?

My friend Dave Stein of ES Research wrote a very timely post on his blog a few days ago about the battle between salespeople and purchasing agents.  I found it timely because one of my coaching clients needed some emergency coaching yesterday because when he visited with a new prospect, a purchasing manager for a division of a major wood products company, he had an “uh, oh” experience.

My client realized within just a couple of minutes of beginning the discussion that the prospect knew far more about the salesperson’s business, sales process, and even the type of issues his company was having than the salesperson knew about the prospect’s company.  To his surprise and dismay, apparently the prospect was doing more research on the salesperson’s company than he had done on the prospect’s company.  He knew he was in a situation where he was at a distinct disadvantage because his prospect was better prepared than he was.

Over the years I’ve addressed the issue of how prospects—both business and individual consumer prospects—are changing.  No longer do they need salespeople to provide information and guidance because they have at their fingertips mountains of information—from data to case studies to price comparisons to recommendations and guidance by recognized experts about every product and service imaginable.

Salespeople must be better prepared than ever.  Not only are prospects becoming more difficult to connect with—they’ve learned to block out your marketing and advertising and avoid your cold calls–they are becoming far more knowledgeable about their issues and the possible solutions to those issues.  In addition, corporate purchasing personnel are actively engaged in researching you just as you are researching them—and they are being trained on how to counter your sales techniques, negotiate, read your body language, and other methods of out selling the seller.

The world of selling is changing and it is changing rapidly.  More than ever it is imperative that salespeople learn how to find and connect with prospects in ways prospects will respect and accept—and unfortunately, the traditional methods of prospecting just don’t do that.  But in addition, salespeople must learn how to sell in a world where the consumer is as well or even better informed than they are and where the prospect has access to the recommendations and guidance of recognized, ‘objective’ experts.

If you thought selling was a tough job in the past, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

June 23, 2008

Guest Article: “Three Tradeshow Benefits to Embrace Rising Gas Prices,” by Susan Friedmann

Three Tradeshow Benefits to Embrace Rising Gas Prices
By Susan Friedmann

It’s no surprise that oil price are rising through the roof, bringing the cost of gasoline and aviation fuel along for the ride. This morning’s newspapers report that $7 a gallon gasoline might be on the horizon – a staggering number that has dire implications for almost every industry, from travel to agriculture, biotech to capital equipment.

What, you may be wondering, does this have to do with tradeshows?

Let’s not mince words. This situation creates a double-whammy for exhibitors. Not only will it cost more money to transport you, your team, and your exhibit to and from the show, but there will be fewer attendees at the show.

Some organizations, considering this, might make the decision to forgo the show. Higher costs, fewer attendees — it seems like an easy decision to make.

Easy, but wrong. Here’s the top three reasons this is NOT the time to skip the show:

1. Less Competition
There’s no doubt about it: some companies ARE going to skip the show. There will be fewer exhibitors, which means your exhibit will be more visible by default. Savvy exhibitors will have a plan to capitalize on this opportunity.

2. More Time
The less exhibitors attendees have to see, the more time they have to spend with each exhibitor who is there. This gives you a great window to begin or reinforce that relationship. Having a few extra minutes can make all the difference in the world.

3. Better Prospects
With the costs of attending the show rising, weaker prospects — the group that comes to kick tires, take up your time, collect premium items and never buy anything — are less likely to attend. A greater percentage of show attendees will be focused on doing business.

Susan Friedmann is a “how to” coach specializing in the tradeshow industry.  She works with organizations who want to boost their exhibiting results by attracting new business at tradeshows; designs and implements strategies for show organizers and exhibitors who want to retain and grow their customer base; and also works one-on-one with exhibit managers and conducts national and international presentations and workshops.  Her website is

June 21, 2008

Top Sales Experts Releases New Sales E-book

The Top Sales Experts have released a new 139 page e-book with articles by over 50 top sales trainers.

Topics covered range from prospecting to leadership to the sales process to managing sales teams and everything in-between. Authors include Dr. Tony Alessandra, Jill Konrath, Jonathan Farrington, Jeb Blount, Keith Rosen, Wendy Weiss, Dr. Gregory Stebbins, Tim Wackel, Ann Miller, Lee Salz, Kelley Robertson, myself and many others.

I encourage you to click over HERE and download your copy. Over 50 great articles by some of the best minds in the business of sales—and its free. Best yet, when you do download the book, you’ll be automatically registered to receive all future editions of the Top Sales Experts e-books when they come out.

There are a lot of e-books on the market—most of them are quite honestly junk. This is the exception. No matter where you are in your sales career or what sales issues you might be facing, you’ll find numerous articles that will help you sell more, make more money, and get more enjoyment out of your career.

June 19, 2008

The Chavezization of Business

American politicians, like politicians around the world, have always used current events as leverage to try to gain power. In our two party system, each party has sought to blame the other side for anything and everything they possibly could that they thought would anger the electorate. Honesty, integrity, and truthfulness have never been at the forefront of these blame game battles.

Nevertheless, most of us have assumed that the ultimate goal was more than just power. We assumed that each party sought power for the sake of moving the country in the direction the party believed was best for the country. We assumed that each party, whether we agreed with them or not, was seeking ways to make the country stronger, to enhance the lives of the country’s citizens, to advance each citizen’s ability to succeed and prosper.

Although we knew that the parties would distort, twist and outright lie to smear the other party in order to gain advantage, we assumed that even during election cycles the parties would not actively work against the citizenry.

It looks like those naive days are gone. We are now facing an election cycle where the higher the Democrat Party can force energy prices, the more pain they can inflict on the country, the more people they can nudge toward impoverishment, the better for them.

The Democrat Party has determined that driving more and more middle-class families toward poverty is in their best interests and has decided to seek to drive petroleum and natural gas prices as high as they possibly can in the interests of ‘conservation’ and to force the development of alternative energy sources. Advocating the failed policies of the past such as the disastrous windfall profits tax of the Carter years, preventing the development of clean coal, nuclear energy, or further exploration and drilling, and preventing the building of new refineries guarantees energy prices will continue to rise and our continued and expanded reliance on foreign energy. New policies such as the rationing of energy through carbon credits will simply add to the misery of the middle and lower classes.

Democrats have proposed a number of policies that would change the business world we live in, including serious discussion of the nationalization or semi-nationalization of the healthcare industry, the energy industry, and the banking industry. Chavez’s Venezuela in red, white and blue may become a reality.

Having government which has managed to bankrupt social security, drive the educational system into chaos, has little understanding of how technology is developed or how long it takes to develop commercially viable solutions to our energy needs, and seems to think it has the power to create solutions by fiat not only regulate but run one of the industries critical to the country’s health and wellbeing is the worst possible solution to the current energy crisis.

The Democrats argue that the energy industry is run by greedy, power hungry companies bent on creating the largest possible profit. They will get no argument from me. However, those greedy companies realize they create their biggest possible profit by developing and providing the goods and services the public wants at the best possible price.

I would much rather have a greedy company who understands how the market works and seeks to create its profit through production and development than to have the industry run by an incompetent, greedy, power hungry government bent on using its power and resources to control what I do, how I do it, and when I do it.

This election isn’t so much about the presidential candidates as it is about the control of Congress. Obama and McCain are close to one another on many issues and the President has limited powers. If the Democrat Party gains enough seats to enact their agenda without serious opposition, the only difference between Obama and McCain will be in judicial nominations and the use of the veto. If the Democrats have enough seats to override vetoes, the presidential election is about judicial nominations only.

The real power struggle in this election is for dominate control of both houses of Congress. If the Democrat Party racks up enough seats in both houses to pass any legislation they desire, veto or not, business and salespeople are going to have a very rough four years ahead. The only real hope business has should the Democrats prevail in the numbers projected is that the damage they wreck can be reversed.

June 18, 2008

Guest Article: “Selling With Your Personality,” by Mark Hunter

Filed under: sales,selling — Paul McCord @ 6:28 am
Tags: , ,

Selling With Your Personality
by Mark Hunter

Anyone can sell if the price is cheap enough or if what is being sold is something people can’t live without.  However, for the vast majority of us, neither of these luxuries are part of the scenario.  The difficulty of selling is compounded by the fact that most customers have a wide range of options available to them regarding what they can buy.   Therefore, in order to close the sale, it becomes necessary for us to stand out from other salespeople.  One of the best ways to be different is by displaying a confident personality.

A powerful sales tool that many of us overlook is our personality.  It positively and negatively influences far more sales than we will ever admit to.  I firmly believe that you should use your personality to impact every sales call.  “CPP” is a concept I often teach to sales groups.  It stands for “Confidently Passionate Personality” and it means to use your personality with a level of passion and confidence that allows the customer to believe you are genuinely interested in them and their success.  Although it’s not rocket science, it is a critical idea that is often neglected and is very useful in helping you gain sales over your competition.

Note that in order to successfully use your personality on a sales call, you have to be confident in how you can help your customers.  Unfortunately, many salespeople are simply confident in what they’re selling, not in their ability.  There’s a big difference.  When you’re confident in what you’re selling, it means you’re putting more emphasis on your products or services than you are on your customers.  This misunderstanding eliminates a large number of salespeople from being able to use their personality to positively influence their ability to close.  Confidence should not come across as manipulation.  I’m sure we all know salespeople with infectious personalities that use them to bulldoze their way through with customers.   On the surface, they’re very successful, at least for the short term.  However, those who have a manipulative personality will lull themselves into a false sense of security when, in reality, they’re destroying their long-term sales potential.

A confident salesperson is willing to take the time to find out what the real needs of their customers are.  They don’t jump at the person’s first comment and try to close the deal.   Their genuine interest helps expose the underlying needs that the customer may otherwise not be willing to share.  Confident salespeople believe so strongly in themselves and their ability to help that they’re not concerned with making a quick sale.  Rather, they want to make a great sale, which is usually much bigger and more profitable than a quick one.

Furthermore, when you’re genuinely confident in yourself as a salesperson and how you can help people, it’s impossible to keep from showing your passion.  The word “passion” is usually heard in the context of someone being passionately in love with another person.  This is not what I’m talking about.  The “passion” that I’m referring to is showing genuine care and concern for helping the customer.  This means that you’re willing to not only take interest in what they are telling you, but to also dig deeper, even if it takes you down a line of questioning you had not planned on.  The true test in demonstrating passion towards a customer is if after you’ve determined their needs and discovered that they are not in line with what you are selling, you would be willing to refer them to someone else.  That’s passion!  Yes, it may mean giving up a sale, but I guarantee that if you truly are passionate towards your customers, you’ll end up with far more sales in the long-run than the person who is not.

Finally, to successfully use your personality as a sales tool, you must be someone that people like to associate with.  Negative or self-serving personalities will not see positive results.  Your personality must be upbeat in both actions and words, and should be complimentary to everyone you come in contact with.   Attractive personalities do not get easily upset with issues, are willing to help find solutions, and are optimistic.  They are inviting rather than exclusive, and they cause others to be willing to share openly.  Very simply, an attractive personality is one you would like to hang out with.

To determine your level of confidence, ask yourself the following two questions.
•    Do customers call you for information that goes beyond what you sell?
•    Do customers willingly refer you to others?

Although they are simple questions, the responses they elicit can quickly tell you if your personality is confident, but not arrogant.

Having a “Confidently Passionate Personality” is not something every salesperson can achieve.  However, for the vast majority, it is attainable if they’re willing to show genuine interest in their customers.  The questions they ask and the service they provide will allow their personalities to be the effective sales tool that differs from their competition.

Mark Hunter, “The Sales Hunter”, is a sales expert who speaks to thousands each year on how to increase their sales profitability.  For more information, to receive a free weekly email sales tip, or to read his Sales Motivation Blog, visit

June 17, 2008

Today at 5PM Central: Learn to Reach Your B2B Prospects Without Cold Calling

You don’t have to waste time cold calling IF you learn how to connect with your prospect in a manner they welcome and that gains their interest.

Take an hour this afternoon and learn how you can use the phone to connect with decision makers without having to use manipulation or deceit to get past gatekeepers, how to develop immediate credibility and rapport, and to engage your prospect in a real conversation, not just a sales pitch.

Let me give you some of the reactions from the last teleseminar:

David Collins said “this is by far the most productive teleseminar I’ve ever attended, bar none. Your approach isn’t like anything I’ve heard before and the best part is after a week of using it, I can say without any hesitation, ‘It Works!’”

Lynn Groves says “I’ve taken numerous telephone seminars and teleseminars and none come close to giving me the real honest to God help this seminar has given me. Funny, this seminar at $67 is one of the least expensive I’ve attended and is worth more than all the others put together.”

Andy Ramos says “without a doubt, the most effective seminar I’ve attended in the last three years.”

What are they raving about? They’re talking about what they learned that gets them to:
• the decision maker without having to lie, deceive gatekeepers, or try to manipulate people
• how to create real interest in the decision maker
• how to know before they call what the company’s needs and issues are
• how to get their voice mail messages returned almost 100% of the time
• how to make a real, welcome connection with the decision maker, not a cold call
• how to set themselves apart from every other salesperson even before they make the call

This isn’t some miracle cure or slimy gimmick. This is a disciplined, effective process that turns time wasting, ineffective cold calling into a real conversation and connection with decision makers.
Join me on Tuesday, June 17 at 5PM Central Time (6PM Eastern, 4PM Mountain, 3PM Pacific) for the most effective phone training you’ll ever get.

REGISTER HERE—still only $67.00 for this career changing teleseminar.

Only three ‘seats’ left so register early

June 16, 2008

Avoiding Uncomfortable Discussions with Your Prospects and Clients Isn’t Going to Build Trust

Are you blind to the political issues and candidates that impact your family, your sales business, and your clients? Even if political, economic, social, and cultural issues aren’t high on your radar, are you going to simply avoid the subject during this election season? Could you if you wanted to? Few of us, no matter how well or ill informed we may be, can honestly say that we have no opinions regarding the candidates and the issues.

As salespeople we spend a fair amount of time trying to develop relationships built upon trust, honesty, and openness with our prospects and clients. We claim that we want to build relationships with our clients, we want to get to know them as people and not just as potential purchasers, we want to create friends, not just accounts. Many of us go to great lengths to learn how to read body language, to communicate in a manner that caters to the prospect’s personality type, to read the unspoken signals the client sends through how they dress, how they decorate their office, what they drive, and what they do for recreation and relaxation. Our goal we say is to treat the prospect as a whole person.

Nevertheless, our holistic approach to sales is one sided. For many of us, there are areas of discussion and interaction that we want to hide from our prospect. Let the conversation get close to the area of political or social opinion and all the sudden many of us no longer are too anxious to build the relationship on honesty and openness. Instead of openness, we seek to avoid; instead of honesty, we seek to muddy the waters to the point our client has no idea where we stand.

Many of us will spend the next few months doing a delicate dance of avoidance, trying to offend no one while insisting that we are open, honest, trustworthy individuals, intent only on meeting the prospect’s needs and becoming trusted advisors. We’ll try to build relationships based on getting to know our client while allowing them to get to know only three quarters of us. We’ll try to balance on the head of pin, afraid that if we reveal ourselves as a political or socially aware person we’ll offend, we’ll step on toes, we’ll lose a sale.

In my opinion–and experience–not only is this behavior ingenuous, but it is itself destructive. Prospects and clients expect each of us to have opinions and they are quite aware that those opinions may be counter to their own.

What are we communicating to prospects and clients when we try to sidestep discussion of the issues or candidates? Many immediately assume we’re avoiding the issue because we hold opinions we believe are counter to theirs—so whether their assumption is correct or not, by avoiding the discussion we risk offending the prospect by unintentionally communicating a contrary opinion to theirs. A few may assume that we’re not informed well enough or care enough to have an opinion. Most will assume that we’re simply trying to play the game, trying to be ‘real’ as long as that reality doesn’t involve anything of substance in our personal lives.

Conventional wisdom has been to avoid political discussion. Conventional wisdom comes from a time when the emphasis wasn’t on building long-term, trust based relationships with prospects and clients.

I’m not advocating you initiate political and social discussion, but avoiding it isn’t going to advance the relationship either.

Seldom have I found discussing these issues to be, well, an issue. I have lost a few sales that I can trace to these types of discussions, but I can identify many more sales I’ve made where the sale had its roots in a willingness to engage in political and social discussions.

As long as you are respectful of the prospect’s point of view, have reasoned arguments for your stance, and don’t engage in inflammatory language, there is no reason to fear alienating a prospect or client. In fact, if you can intelligently discuss the issues in light of how they may impact your prospect’s business, you may find that your discussion instead of being a potential minefield may be one of the most compelling reasons to do business with you. Prospects and clients not only respect honesty, they also respect salespeople who understand their business and the future prospects for their business. By demonstrating an understanding of how political, economic and social issues may affect your prospect’s future, you demonstrate an intimate knowledge of their business—and prospects love to do business with people they trust and who really understand their problems, issues, and opportunities.

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