Thursday, October 16, 2008

To Talk Presidential Politics or Not with Prospects and Customers?

I often get asked if it is alright to talk politics with prospects and customers. During a Presidential election season, it is bound to come up at some point with some of your better customers. While I would not make it a habit of bringing politics up, the chances are very good that your customer will.

If you are asked directly who you support for President, my advice is to go ahead and answer. Just make sure you back your answer up with a business point that supports your position. After all, both of your businesses are tied together. If your customer is successful in their business, this allows you to be successful in selling your products or services. Just make a brief point in why your support translates into what is good for both of your businesses.

It might seem easier not to answer and I believe this is the default position of most salespeople. But when a Presidential election is in full swing, no customer or prospect in their right mind will believe you have no opinion. In my book this will make you seem petty and gutless. These are a couple of attributes that you should never aspire to be identified with.

Just make sure not to get into verbal sparring with your customer on this issue. This is where the conversation needs to end. State your point and move on. If disagreement arises, empathize with their belief structure and then move the conversation on to something else.

In the end, your customer will respect your opinion and your willingness to share it if you limit it to both of your business interests. Be respectful, be yourself, and don't claim to have no opinion when everyone with concern for their country will clearly have one.

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