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Farquharson/Tedesco on Business Development: Presidents Day Sales Analogies

February 2014 By T.J. Tedesco, Bill Farquharson

Every third Monday in February your authors celebrate one of our favorite holidays. No, not National Tortilla Chip Day—that's the 24th. We're talking about Presidents Day. The reason we love this holiday is simple: It celebrates George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, two of America's greatest salesmen...er...leaders.

What characteristics made these two so great? Determination? Courage? The ability to rock a set of wooden teeth or a stovepipe hat? Sure, all of the above. But you don't need a 1,000-word column telling you to be courageous. We'd fall asleep writing it.

What Sales Challenges?

You think you've got a tough sale to make? How about Washington saying to the comfortable American gentry, "Let's poke a stick in King Georgie's eye. If we fail, your family loses everything. Plus, you'll hang for treason. What do you say, boys? Follow me!"

What about Lincoln forcefully stating that, "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." How exactly was that going to work in the summer of 1863, considering how far apart the Union and the Confederacy were at this point?

Talk about salesmen!

Did you know that Washington lost more battles than he won? Did you know that Lincoln lost more elections than he won?

The Father of our Country usually won when it mattered most, like at the Battle of Yorktown. Washington's victory there led directly to the British recognizing America's independence. Hey, George—thanks for that!

Honest Abe also won when it mattered most. One can hardly imagine what a map of North America, and indeed the world, would look like had Lincoln said to Stephen A. Douglas and the other candidates for prez in 1861, "Y'all are kicking my butt; go ahead and take this thankless job."

What can we, as print shop owners and salespeople, learn from our great presidents No. 1 and No. 16? First, don't worry about past losses. Fuhgeddaboutem! No matter how experienced you are, from time to time you'll blow a sale. Instead, focus on being there for your customers when they need you most.

"Malice toward none; charity for all," is a well-known Lincoln quote. We couldn't agree more! Lincoln's extraordinary empathy allowed him to greatly influence friends and foes alike, helping him rack up an impressive list of accomplishments. How empathetic are you? When you're listening to customers rant, do you go out of your way to empathize with them? Or, like many salespeople, are you waiting for them to shut up so you can make your point?

 

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