Three Lessons for Salespeople from Last Night’s Presidential Debate

Please don’t mistake this post for a political post. It’s not a political post. In way of full disclosure, I have been a small “l” libertarian for two decades, and I am voting for Gary Johnson. During the last election, I voted the straight Libertarian ticket. There; I am out of the closet.

I tell you this so you can read this post without reading into that I have any interest in either the Republican or Democrat candidate winning this election. (I have already warned you here, here, and here about making political arguments, and I won’t be hypocritical and make a political argument here myself. My candidate has already lost.)

Mitt Romney Was the Better Salesman

But there are sales lessons here. And we take sales lessons where we can find them. This is about two salesmen both trying to make the sale of a lifetime. One wants to be President. One wants to be President again. One was the better salesman last night.

Last night, Mitt Romney was the better salesman. Leave the politics of Left or Right out of the equation. Romney performed better than the President.

Lesson One: Rehearse

First, Romney was extraordinarily well rehearsed. It was clear from his first statement that he had an agenda, he had his talking points, and he was prepared to make his case. He had rebuttals for anything that was thrown at him. Those rebuttals were well rehearsed. This is clearly a man that prepares for big engagements. As a result of his preparation, he controlled the agenda.

The President complained about having to rehearse leading up to these debates, calling them “a drag.” (Does this complaining ring a bell? Like when you are asked to plan your sales calls or presentations, maybe?) The President is smart. He knew what he wanted to say, but because it wasn’t well rehearsed, it came off as disjointed, meandering, as him trying to bump into his point (I am doubtful you will ever see that kind of performance from this President again this election season. He’s better than that).

Lesson Two: Be Passionate

Second, Romney was passionate about making his case. Romney was like a first ranked boxer with a shot at the title, and he came in knowing he had to go toe-to-toe with the world champion. He was bright, full of vigor, and his energy level was high. He was passionate and it showed.

The President’s energy level was low. I am certain that none of us can imagine the toll being President takes, but we can see it in our Presidents by how fast they age in office. Instead of coming across as passionate, the President came across as having no energy at all. He looked like he didn’t want to be there.

How do you come across in a sales call? Is clear that you want to be there? Is it clear that you are eager, passionate, and bringing your energy?

Lesson Three: Have a Positive Attitude

Finally, Romney’s attitude was good. I haven’t seen him have a likeability factor worth noting during this entire election season. But he was engaging, sometimes funny, and certainly comfortable and in command. It was easy to imagine him as President, because he played the part. I’ve heard that in private he is a likable guy, but I am certain this is the first time I saw it during this campaign. He handled every attack without letting it change his attitude or his state.

The President looked thin-skinned, petulant, and uncomfortable. All Presidents look this way after their first term. I believe it’s because they can’t imagine having to listen to some knuckle-head that really doesn’t understand how big the job is tell them all the ways they’re doing it wrong. If you are going to beat an incumbent President, you are going to have to point out that they are doing it wrong and how you can do better. It gets under their skin, too. But the President could have rehearsed and learned to control that response.

What’s your attitude like on a sales call? What’s it like when you are being challenged? Are you defensive? Do you wear your emotions on your face?

Regardless of your politics, there are sales lessons to learn from the biggest sale in world. You can learn these lessons, if you are willing to set your politics aside.


How do you prepare for your biggest, must-win deals?

How much time do you spend rehearsing the language you are going to use to make your most important points?

How do you put yourself in an energetic, resourceful, passionate state?

What does your attitude say about you on a sales call?

How do you respond to criticism and attacks on your ideas?

Want more great articles, insights, and discussions?

Join my weekly Newsletter, sign up for Sales Accelerator and follow me on social.

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn | YouTube

Filed under: Sales

[if lte IE 8]
[if lte IE 8]

Share this page with your network