In general, I think it's a good idea to keep topics like religion and politics out of my blog. With this election, I've seen a few trends that I think transcend politics that are worth discussing. Many of these trends are seen in small business growth strategies and marketing tactics. To be fair, I'm going to try and give examples of these issues from both sides of the political aisle and provide context within the field of sales and marketing. Hopefully, I won't offend anyone and I apologize in advance if I do.
What We All Need is to Come Together
I firmly believe that the vast majority of this country has far more in common than the politicians would like us to believe. Almost everyone I talk to has basically the same views: we think business and free enterprise is a good thing and should be encouraged and we don't want to impose our moral views on others. This doesn't mean that we don't see the egregious excesses of greedy business people or that we don't have moral values. But the bottom line is that prosperity does a lot to ease most other concerns. Free enterprise is not the enemy - the enemy are the despicable individuals who so callously ruin the lives of millions to line their pockets. They really don't have anything to worry about; they're protected by both sides. The former governor of New Jersey, Jon Corzine, is a perfect example of someone who should pay a price for their malfeaseance but never will. He's the problem, not some small business owner chasing the American dream. By the way, he's from the side that constantly promotes how they're looking out for the middle class.
Don't Let Politicians Divide and Conquer Us
Here's the part where I give equal credit where it is deseved. I was extremely disheartened to hear President Obama exhorting his followers to vote in order to get revenge. I didn't feel much better when President Obama characterized his desire for Latinos to punish our enemies. In a divided, gridlocked political system, this doesn't give much hope for the two sides coming together to compromise.
On the other side of the aisle, we have Mitt Romney's 47% remark in which he characterized almost half of the country as lazy, indolent slobs looking for a handout. Again, this doesn't set a good atmosphere for compromise with the other side.
What do these remarks from both sides of the aisle have in common? They're designed to pit us (we the people) against each other for the benefit of the politician making the remark. They are incredibly selfish remarks made by people who think that their political careers are more important than the welfare of our country. And that goes for both sides - don't shoot the messenger for showing those examples.
There's only one way to get out of the mess we're in: to come together and compromise. Isn't that the way 99% of your business deals take place? Do you ever get 100% of what you want in a negotiation? The art of the compromise is finding the sweet spot where both sides feel happy with the result. Let's demand that from our politicians. Regardless of what anyone says, the Great Recession was a bipartisan creation.
Don't Be a Jerk
It seems that being rude, condescending and disrepectul is being confused with being passionate and caring in our society. If you want to read about a textbook a-hole, read the sixth paragraph of this article. It describes what a current politician said to a father who just lost his son in a combat situation. We saw plenty of this behavior in the presidential debates. There's no room for this behavior in our society. I'm tired of liars calling other liars liars.
Some sales people think that being condesceding towards their prospects conveys a superiority that will trigger the buyer into wanting what the know-it-all has to offer. I was pitched by someone taking this approach recently and would never do business with this jerk in a million years. This person told me exactly what my problems were without showing the slightest interest in my objectives. Had he bothered to ask a few questions, he would have realized my interests were almost diametrically opposed to those he was promoting.
I also am dealing with another business person who sold me by asking me questions, sharing examples and giving me options that led me to a good decision. I invested a decent amount of money in this person and am happy with the job this person is doing for me. I would both recommend her to my contacts as well as purchase from her again if the need arose.
Yes, you do need to know your prospect's business interests and challenges, but it's highly unlikely that you'll know more about their business than they do. Particularly if you don't ask any questions to confirm your assumptions. One thing hasn't changed - people like doing business with people that they like. They need to meet the other qualifications, but given the choice between a jerk and someone you like, the answer is obvious.
So let's all make a conscious effort to treat each other with respect.
Respect the Results of the Election and Push for Compromise
Depending on when you read this, the election may already be decided. I have a preference; but regardless of who wins, I'm going to respect the outcome and push my representatives to compromise. We have gigantic budgetary issues that we need to face. The bottom line is that Social Security and Medicare need reformed, the sooner the better. The politician who avoids tackling these challenges and scores political points against someone who has the courage to put forward a proposal is our enemy and should be voted out of office. I don't expect to get my "promised" social security benefit and would gladly compromise in order to lift this crushing burden off of our economy. I'm a small businessman and want the freedom to succeed in this country. I also want people of all backgrounds to start their own businesses and be successful. For me, that's the most important issue in the country right now.
So everybody, for whatever's important to you, go out and vote.