As with most companies that employ outside salesmen, mine is no different. We have territories that each man (or woman) confines himself to.
For the longest time there was one territory the consistently lagged behind the others. Salesman after salesman failed, all saying the same thing: “You just can’t make a living in this territory.” There were not enough customers, too much competition, etc. We literally went through eight salesmen in a row, telling us the same thing. Yet we knew there was great-untapped potential there.
Along came a relatively unassuming and introverted man. He was the opposite of the stereotypical salesman. You know, type A, extrovert, a little loud, a little arrogant. All indicators pointed to his failure, but we took a shot anyway.
Well, this quiet man (who looked exactly like the singer James Taylor) became our number one salesman, month in, month out, year in, year out.
How did he do it? Well, simple. He was real. He was the embodiment of every successful cliché on the books. He said what he meant and meant what he said. He talked the talk and walked the walk, and all the rest of those sayings.
The bottom line is people, his customers, liked and trusted him. He was humble, but not a doormat. He stood up for himself and didn’t compromise just to make a sale. In other words, he didn’t prostitute himself.
He prided himself on knowing his product better than anyone but was not afraid to tell a customer he didn’t know the answer. He would find the answer and inform the customer . . . every time.
Upon his retirement, after just eight years, something unusual occurred. I’ve never seen or heard anything like it before, or since.
He was so loved and respected that when his customers found out of his impending retirement, huge orders just started appearing. Customers were calling in purchases for a full year or more on one order, just so he would receive the commission. It was their way of thanking him for years of unwavering service. It was truly epic.
Nice story you say, but what the heck does it have to do with anything?
Well, because politics is just sales. It’s as simple as that. Instead of a product, you are simply selling yourself, your ideas and your values.
Now, most of us have not dealt directly with politicians, but have with salesman, and it’s always the same, isn’t it.
Unfortunately, politics and sales attract some of the same types: Smarmy glad-handers that flash a fake smile and make hollow promises.
People, more often than not, buy from whom they like and whom they feel they can trust. There will be some ill-informed customers that believe any line of crap handed to them, as long as it is what they wish to hear. Thankfully, they are in the minority. They vote the same way. But that only works when there is a dearth of competent competition.
The salesman I spoke of could be compared to Ronald Reagan and those before him, a bunch of Bob Doles, John McCains or Mitt Romneys.
People trusted Reagan. He was the real deal. He, like our outstanding salesman, set himself apart. He wasn’t just one of many. He didn’t just say, like so many politicians and salesman: “Yeah, I can do that too.” For an informed customer or voter that isn’t a reason to switch salesmen or candidates.
Now more than ever, we need those who have the courage to care more about their country than the next election. They must be honest, bold but humble and not compromising of their core beliefs under any circumstances. They must know their topics and sell their vision.
Whether in sales or public service, those who speak the truth and are knowledgeable need no Teleprompter.