When a prospective buyer makes a final purchasing decision about our products or services, we're often not in the room where it happens or an effective part of the conversation. And sadly, when we lose, it's often because we've done a mediocre job of equipping our internal champions with the specific data and other ammunition they need to convince their co-workers that buying our stuff makes sense. This isn't that hard to do, but it requires some planning, anticipation, and discretion to do it right and not overdo it.
Part of any good sales job is to help do your supporters' homework for them; to make sure that they've got the simple answers and the backup documentation and testimonials they'll need to get the sale closed. An equally important part of the process is not to overstep the appropriate boundaries. Too much material and too much pushing is a sure and counterproductive turnoff. No one is looking for more work or more paper. Just tell me quickly and concisely how you're gonna save me and my people time and money and make us more productive and I'm yours.
It's even a tougher task when your product or service is up for renewal (which I call "the second sale") and the decision maker is some functionary who has to sign off on an extension of a license or a subscription renewal without any real idea of what they are being asked to approve. This is usually a financial person who's always looking to cut costs, reduce outlays, and get rid of orphaned programs, services, or subscriptions. As you can imagine, especially in tough financial times, it's way too easy and much safer for them to say no in these cases and just let things lapse or expire.
You need to get ahead of the renewal calendar so you know when these decisions are going to be made and how you can get the necessary facts in front of the right folks before the door gets slammed shut. But again, it's important to remember that a few key facts are likely to be far more persuasive and effective than a boatload of boring stats and reports. It's a job for a sniper rifle and not a shotgun -- precise and to the point.
This is why it's so disappointing -- especially with the time to accomplish much of anything slipping away -- to see the lousy job the Democrats (and much of the media) are doing of presenting and explaining to the largely turned-off public the basic facts around the critical debates going on about the future of our economy, democracy, and country.
The central fact for the Democrats right now -- just as it is for anyone selling anything -- is that, if you don't give your team and your supporters a few key talking points to help cut through the noise on these issues, they're not going to have the ammunition and confidence to be able to hold up their side of any discussion or arguments.
The simplest example is the constant chatter about the dozens of states passing all kinds of horrible and restrictive new laws regarding voting. When you ask anyone in favor of these laws what's going on, you get back a very straightforward answer along the lines of "What's wrong with asking someone to properly identify themselves before they vote?" And then they'll ask you exactly what you object to in the various new laws and -- guess what -- you don't have an answer.
That's because no one has done even a remotely decent job of specifying exactly what's wrong with a single one of these new laws, or making such information broadly and consistently available to the public. Sure, there are dozens of states allegedly doing awful things, but where's the beef?
We voters are supposed to be the buyers and the dolts in D.C. are supposed to be explaining to us what they are doing and why they deserve our continued support. Ideally, but probably no longer realistically, the best choices and decisions for our country will be made by the most informed voters. Needless to say, no one believes that this is happening today anywhere.
The simplest example is the failure to explain why the Dems are so reluctant to use the reconciliation process to address critical issues about the debt ceiling and eliminate the risks of default. Not one pundit in a thousand bothered to explain that using reconciliation is a once-a-year deal and, if the Dems had quickly employed it to save the country from an economic catastrophe, they wouldn't have been able to use it to pass Biden's major Build Back Better bill. This, of course, was exactly what McConnell was trying to force them to do and what he'll be doing again in December. This is not a difficult idea or a hard concept to understand. It's just something that no one wants to bother to explain to the voters.
And, of course, it's equally foolish to accept the simplistic formulation that these disputes are about the multitrillion-dollar budget rather than the substance of what's involved. We see the constant references to massive, but largely meaningless, dollar amounts every day. The first infrastructure bill, which passed with significant bipartisan support, is constantly referred to as a trillion-dollar package even though just over 50 percent of the spending is new funding.
If no one is interested or willing to give the voting public honest explanations, clear details, concrete facts, and the tools necessary to make intelligent decisions about the future of this country, why would we expect anyone to care or any better outcomes than we have had in the last few years?
In the end, whatever you're selling -- products, services, policies or politicians -- the story is ultimately the same. It's not what you tell them that matters, it's what they hear and, right now, all we hear is noise and nonsense.