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Sales, Politics, and Religion

by @ 11:09 pm
Filed under: marketing,politics,religion

For a brief period in my career I was encouraged to try my hand at sales. I was ok at it and made decent commissions but in the end I knew that sales wasn't my calling and I returned to my passion, technology, mainly programming. That brief stint taught me one lesson in salesmanship. When on a sales call, steer away from passionate topics, specially when you don't know which way the prospect is leaning. References to religion and politics should be avoided in favor of more neutral topics, unless the product is geared towards a certain persuasion.

Today I was shown an online demo of a Web product. The salesman had worked hard to secure a slice of my time to showcase his product. The part I found curious was the demo Web pages I was being shown. They included news articles about the Pope's Visit with Bush, Christianity, and the Church. Now I have no problem with these topics when used in the context of product demonstration, but I wondered if the salesperson knew about my liberal, religion-free mindset, would he have still picked these topics for his product demo.

The salesman never lead the conversation towards politics or religion, and we kept the conversation on-topic, centered around the features of the product and the cost of implementation. But I could imagine that another liberal person might have reacted negatively to all this and written the whole thing off.

The point is that avoiding emotionally charged topics such as religion and politics, however indirect, is a prudent policy when making a sales pitch to someone you don't know. This salesman may experience much higher success if he picks safer, more neutral examples for his demonstrations. For example, I'm not interested in team sports, but I doubt anyone would have a negative reaction to samples depicting baseball bats . Why take a chance on distracting or alienating your prospects when your goal is to secure their business?

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