Car sales people have been the butt of many a joke often dismissed for sharp practice or even sharper tongues, but there is so much that our politicians – especially the local ones – could learn from that industry.
Let’s start with the basics – if you are selling, Qualification is the phrase used, finding out what your customer wants, their needs, their dreams and their commitments.
For politicians, this process is referred to as Consultation, with politicians deciding what the voter wants, what their dreams ought to be and framing questions to deliver the policy that they want to impose.
A sales person is trained to listen to the answers given by their customer and to describe how the features of their product will benefit the customer and deliver what they want.
A politician will tell their electorate what they can have, fitting as many as possible into the straightjacket of legislative control of their lives, of course referring to consultation as proof of voter desire and blaming failure on everyone but themselves.
Most importantly, if a sales person fails to persuade a customer of the benefits of their product, they are trained to make one of the most difficult of calls – the lost sale call. It is difficult because the customer may identify the sales person as being at fault – it may be their product did not measure up – whatever the outcome of that call, it is a valuable exercise in improvement and learning how to win next time.
When I stood for the local elections, I canvassed neighbours who I had known for 30 – 40 years asking for their nomination. I did not seek their vote, just their support for my suitability as a candidate. One of those neighbours had been a supporter of the Liberal Democrats although he had allowed the lapse of his membership because of Nick Clegg’s prevarication in Government on Student Fees.
Since the decimation of the Liberal Democrat vote in Beddington North, rather than reflecting on the imposition of the incinerator on the ward, the destruction of the community in Richmond Green or the planned development of the Sheen Way Playing Fields – the local Liberal Democrats trawled the election nominations and wrote to my neighbour officially expelling him from the Liberal Democrat Party.
It is vindictive, short sighted and self-defeating – will that Lib Dem sales person sell their product to that person again?
Much better to reflect on the mistakes, listen and most importantly CHANGE!