The 2024 presidential race is upon us, and the future of America hangs in the balance. Trump is the forerunner with Nikki Haley gaining some steam, and Gavin Newsom running what many call a “shadow campaign.” And then we’ve got longshot candidates Marianne Williamson and Dean Philips challenging Biden on the Democratic ticket. Who’s going to come out on top?
And more importantly, what does the 2024 presidential race have to do with B2B sales?!
I’ll tell you what. It has everything to do with sales. In fact, politics and sales are more alike than they are different. If you want to win at either, you have to maneuver deliberately and strategically. Your campaigns must be well-conceived and you must prepare for battle every day. You can’t just show up and hope for the best. In sales and politics, showing up is not half the battle.
I’ve identified 5 ways where the B2B salesperson has to think like a presidential candidate. Let’s jump right in.
#1 — Identify and Segment Your Audience
You’ve heard the saying, “When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one.” And there is so much truth to this. Just like presidents pick their audience (generally by party-lines, but also based on specific policies), you must also decide who your target is.
To succeed in sales, you have to solve a specific problem for a specific audience. If you want higher conversions, segment your audience even further. Get to know your prospect’s pain points, needs, challenges, hopes, etc. Exactly like political candidates know their constituents. I recommend taking it a step further by digging into your CRM and looking at analytics and psychographics of your current and past customers. Using this intel, craft your ideal customer profile (ICP). Now these are the people who are hungry for your product or service.
#2 — Communicate a Narrative of Hope and Strength
The candidate that wins is usually the one who best articulates a narrative of hope and strength (at least for their party). In their speech, they must paint a picture of a future brimming with possibilities, potential, color, and life. Their message has to resonate with their audience. They will succeed to the degree they do this effectively. Same goes for SDRs, Account Execs, and other sales roles.
So much about politics is effective communication and negotiations. While what you say is important, how you say it is equally important. If you speak with conviction and communicate that you can truly help your prospects, you’re far more likely to capture hearts and emotions. Don’t worry so much about moving the needle. When you move hearts, the needle will follow.
#3 — Never Stop Earning Trust
This year’s presidential hopefuls will be holding town halls, giving speeches, and attending meet-and-greets leading up to Election Day. This is necessary to earn the trust of their voter base. In the same way, you must also go on the campaign trail in sales. This means dialing prospects who have shown interest, following up with leads, and generally branding yourself as “the one for the job.”
While there is a clear end-point in a presidential race (Election Day), there is no really clear endpoint in sales. So you need to continue earning trust by making it an ongoing activity in your sales flywheel. In other words, it’s just something you will always do. Without trust, you have no ground to stand on. You might win some customers or clients, but you won’t win the race without running on a platform of trust.
Also, so much about trust is simply not getting caught up in a scandal or otherwise calling your character into question (think Bill Clinton circa 1998). Depending on the industry, word can really get around fast. And you never want to tarnish your reputation, as it will kill your sales. And this is just best practice for business in general.
#4 — Differentiate and Position Yourself for Success
I would never suggest going on a smear campaign and throwing your competitors under the bus. Sure, this happens all the time in presidential races. And there’s no doubt we’ll see mud-slinging in 2024. But you have to hold yourself to a higher standard.
That said, you should absolutely differentiate yourself from your competitors and position your product as the only solution to their problems/challenges. This isn’t hard to do. First think about your competitive advantage. What is the one thing that your customers/clients rave about most while interfacing with your company? Chances are you do this better than everyone else. So run on that platform, as it were.
For instance, Apple was built on design innovation, and nobody beats them at it. So they lean into this differentiator in all of their messaging. On the other end of the spectrum, the clothing brand Patagonia is differentiated by sustainability and environmental activism. This is how they set themselves apart. Do the same for your brand — whether for your company or for you as a salesperson. Everyone must have a brand. Find yours and own it.
#5 — Build Momentum and Excitement
This point deserves a whole post of its own, so I won’t belabor it here. But understand that winning in sales requires you to generate buzz around your offer. This happens through effective storytelling, community building (i.e. social media and content marketing), emotionally connecting with your audience, etc.
I’d also recommend reading my article titled The 2024 Momentum Machine: Scrap the Funnel for the Flywheel. I talk all about what it takes to generate momentum and keep the wheel turning. The B2B sales landscape is only more competitive moving into the new year, and you need to leverage every advantage you can get.
The Most Ineffective Things a Presidential Candidate (and Salesperson) Can Do
Turns out, the worst things a presidential candidate can do are also the very things you must avoid in your B2B sales career. They are as follows:
- Alienate the electorate (aka your prospects)
- Run a poorly organized campaign (aka sales campaign!)
- Fail to communicate a cohesive vision
- Ignore data and analytics
- Not learn from mistakes on campaign trail
RELATED: Fail Forward in Sales
There are obviously lots of differences between sales and politics. The elephant in the room is that many politicians are dishonest. They will say anything to get a vote. The top salespeople, I’ve found, are honest and authentic in their approach. Sales is self-selecting like that — it tends to weed out the ones without honesty and integrity.
But if we watch closely, we can learn some valuable lessons from this year’s presidential hopefuls. Look for the way they identify their audience, communicate a grand vision of hope and strength, earn the trust of their constituents, differentiate themselves from other candidates, and build momentum and excitement.
Political candidates do this with a broad swath of the populace. And you should aim to do this with each and every prospect you encounter. You’ve got this.
Until next time…