Paul Castain's Blog

Sales With A Side Order Of Politics?

Posted September 10, 2012


The other day a sales author made a political remark on Twitter and was promptly greeted with a response inviting them to stick with sales tips.

I’m seeing this more and more and I’m not just talking about authors, I’m talking about people in my network getting really vocal in their status updates about their politics and that’s mighty dangerous!

You have to remember something . . .  unless you position yourself as a political expert or the next “O’Reilly” . . . people in your network didn’t “sign up” to hear you babble on about your politics.

Forgive me for being harsh but it’s the truth.

Just like that lady who called out the sales author the other day. She didn’t sign up for political commentary, she signed up for sales tips and there’s a huge difference between the two of them.

Its like we connect with you in good faith as business people and then you kind of say “Ah . . . fooled you” and then there’s that annoying voice in the political commercials that says “paid for by the friends of (fill in your favorite or not so favorite politician’s name here)

And before you shoot the messenger, let me remind what kind of a ridiculous distraction this is from your “main thing”

Your “main thing” is (and sorry for using the phrase in the definition) the main thing you want others to associate you with, what you want to be known for, synonymous with etc.

Politics will distract people from that.

Why?

Because it hits home and is really personal . . . to lots of people!

So now, we have people who as part of the “courtship” I always talk about, who were “admiring you from afar” as a potential widget supplier, and then you lose them over something stupid like running your mouth about how much you hate this candidate and love that candidate.

Totally not bueno!

I’ve often said that “repetition is the mother of brand” meaning that whatever you do, repeatedly, over time get’s associated with you.

I’m not sure if we have the luxury of people getting a second exposure to us if we piss them off good enough the first time!

But that’s who I am Paul”

I think that’s a cop out excuse and typically its used by people who want to justify dicky behavior.

It’s not who you are . . . its something to which you have strong convictions!

We all have strong convictions

We all have interests but . . .

There’s a time and a place for all of this and now that we’re knee deep in an election.

You need to decide if its worth blowing a sale over.

If it means that much to you . . .

Then have at it!

I’ll be the guy saying “check please” and exiting that discussion!

So enough about me folks. I do believe . . .

It’s Your Turn . . .

Do you feel politics can distract from a sale or a sales relationship and more importantly . . . should we include political commentary in our status updates?

32 thoughts on “Sales With A Side Order Of Politics?

  1. If a salesperson interjects political comment in a selling presentation, is it because a presumption is made that the customer will eagerly approve? Then, that is pandering. If the presumption is that the customer will be offended, then, that is stupid. I approve of this comment.

  2. Let’s say the polls are correct (within the margin of error of course).. then you are going to alienate and lose 46% to 51% percent of your prospects and clients, with ONE POST! Thank ya very much, I’ll keep my door open!

    1. Who could argue with those numbers Jack! There are too many other things we need to focus on as sales professionals!
      Thanks for taking the time to stop by Jack!

  3. . . . and herein lies the difficulty of merging the personal social network and the business social network. Yes, if I sign up for your blog or tweets or email messages to receive sales tips, that is what I expect to read. However, if I join your personal Facebook network and you opine on a moral or patriotic subject why is that any different than posting a picture of your band playing with you rocking on the guitar or a photo of you meeting up with friends for dinner while on a business trip? It’s not. But follow Pauls advice to ‘Think before you post’.

    1. I agree Mel . . . the challenge is that most people won’t come to a logical conclusion like that when something hits home with them. In other words, I doubt very seriously that if I posted my political views on Facebook most people would say “Its personal here so shame on me for exposing myself to Paul’s politics” its going to alienate lots of folks.

      BTW . . .I never bought into the mindset that “Facebook is personal” I see it as “business casual” and as such show my business casual side.

      Your point is well taken and I do cut people a ton of slack on Facebook for the very reasons you mentioned.

      For anyone who reads this comment, I’d love to get your take on Mel’s point . . . Do you feel its different on Facebook?

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Mel!

      1. I don’t promote my personal accounts on facebook or twitter as part of my business, so that is how I feel I am getting around offending people without sacrificing self-expression.
        I think you can share more casual posts on business oriented pages/accounts without ever needing to broach those topics that are going to potentially irritate and alienate half of your audience-as Jack Lindberg points out.

  4. Hi Paul,

    Thank you for sharing this. I think there is a time and a place for politics, and that place certainly isn’t in my work related endeavors.

    While one can argue that certain political outcomes may affect businesses and certain buying decisions, it is absolutely inappropriate and in poor taste to voice those opinions in a sales cycle, or to “preach” those opinions to an audience of followers who value you as an expert in your field.

    I have a Facebook account that I use for only close friends and family. I see a lot of political posts there; more than I care to read. I’m careful of what and how I say things there because I don’t 1) want to make people unnecessarily angry, and 2) have enough respect for these people that I don’t want to make them feel stupid for disagreeing with me. I watch what I say so I don’t lose credibility within my own family – a group of people who I’m sure would still love me tomorrow if I disagreed with them.

    Let’s leave the political opinion columns to the experts and focus on what we do best – writing new business!

    -Megan

    1. “Let’s leave the political opinion columns to the experts and focus on what we do best – writing new business!” I agree Megan and don’t we have enough things to navigate as sales professionals without adding this to the pile?

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

  5. As someone with very passionate political beliefs, I struggled with this one for a long time. I ultimately decided to keep all of my business social media accounts focused on that-business. I know how personally annoyed I feel when I am forced to endure a barrage of political posts that I don’t agree with from someone whom I did not sign up to receive those kinds of posts from. On my personal twitter and facebook, however, I allow myself freedom of political expression, and I have lost a few friends because of it, even though I try really hard to make valid points rather than simply demonize the opposing side. I love a good political debate, but the vast majority cannot maintain a civil discussion about political/religious and other controversial topics. Read any of the politically oriented discussion threads from novelist Anne Rice’s facebook fanpage.

  6. Whether it’s right or not, people judge you based on politics. I just recently had a friend tell me that they judge a persons intelligence based on their political leanings. I’m not saying that is right or wrong, but when you’re trying to sell something and you instantly come across as potentially “stupid” to someone, that can’t help. Check politics at the door… it never leads to anything good.

  7. I work in healthcare, and although I’ve tried many different times and many different ways, there is no way to have a conversation about healthcare that does not involve politics.

  8. Hi Paul — one of the first things I teach my sales students in our professional selling class is to avoid political discussions at all costs. Even if you think you and your customer are in agreement on a political issue, the discussion can take a surprising turn and you could end up losing a good customer for life. Same thing in social media — I think you are absolutely correct in this post! There is a time and a place for everything. If you are building a brand about sales, you are detracting from the brand with a discussion about politics. If you feel the need to make yourself heard, yell at the television instead. You can get out your frustrations without doing any damage to valuable client relationships! 🙂

  9. I agree Dawn and let’s just say your client or prospect agrees with your views. Many times there can be someone in the next cubicle who doesn’t.
    I’d rather not go there.

    I’m going to take your advice and yell at my TV later. Can’t wait to see how my wife reacts. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Dawn!

  10. Another great post! Salespeople should stick to ADDING VALUE for their
    clients and GENERATING REVENUE for their organizations. They should
    leave all the commentary to the people who SPEND everyone’s money, i.e.
    the politicians! 🙂

  11. Another great post! Salespeople should stick to ADDING VALUE for their
    clients and GENERATING REVENUE for their organizations. They should
    leave all the commentary to the people who SPEND everyone’s money, i.e.
    the politicians! 🙂

  12. Great post Paul. I would add actors, actresses and musicians to the list; not interested in third politics ether…

    1. Don’t get me started on the auto correct thing. I went to type a thank you to my friend Butch and auto correct turned “Thanks Butch” into “Thanks Bitch” Guys get really offended by that 🙂

  13. 100% agree, Paul. I just disabled retweet for someone I follow just because of dozens of political retweets.

  14. Politics & Religion… Soap operas for followers. Business is for leaders who don’t have time for soap operas…

  15. So, Paul, I can’t help but notice how well this story fits in with the problems experienced by the small business owner who bear-hugged the President and wondered if you had any thoughts on that. What started as a potentially great photo op has made this entrepreneur a target for those on the other side. Thanks again for sharing this on BizSugar.

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