It’s pretty safe to say that we’re in an election cycle unlike any we’ve seen before. Just when I think I’ve seen it all, our esteemed presidential candidates remind me that I ain’t seen nothing yet.
With that said, both sides have taught me valuable life — and more to the point — sales lessons. The following are the insights I’ve collected when not yelling at the television screen, computer monitor and smartphone.
(Side note: It’s nearly impossible these days to avoid the news. I’m sure you’ll be able to glean who taught me what, but feel free to comment with your thoughts at the end.)
1. When your competition is failing at a high level, sit back, shut up and let them.
Sometimes injecting yourself into the conversation is less effective than letting the bad news cycle play out.
If you can’t take the high road and rise above the noise, at least learn to sit back and enjoy the show quietly.
2. Know when to take a sick day.
If you can’t make it to your vehicle without passing out in front of your audience — stay home.
We all respect determination and commitment. Pushing through the pain to get it done is admirable; collapsing in the street — not so much.
3. People have an inconvenient way of remembering things we say.
Also known as, “What you said yesterday can and most probably will bite you in the ass tomorrow.”
We all run marketing campaigns. We set standards and make promises.
If you think your clients aren’t listening, take note how fast they recall your listing presentation and promises of a quick sale. People are funny like that.
4. Lawsuits are bad.
Interestingly, in addition to being held accountable for what we say, often there seems to be an accountability attached to the things we do. Or don’t do.
Businesses rarely prosper while their principles defend themselves in court. Remembering point no. 1 above, this is where your competition should quietly sit back with a bag of buttery popcorn.
Additionally, actual fault, blame or guilt may be irrelevant. We work in a highly scrutinized and complaint-based environment. Run your business like a business.
Practice within principle; understand that not every word in your brain needs to find its way out of your mouth. Learn what you need to implement to keep you, your clients and your business safe.
5. Pick your partners wisely.
In business, and in life, the people we surround ourselves with will forever impact the perception others have of us.
Whether it’s your spouse, your employees or your circle of friends, our sphere acts as an amplifier, helping to dictate what those around us believe.
Greater still is the effect our surrogates have on our name and reputation. If someone is going to speak for you — be sure you know what it is they’re saying on your behalf.
6. You have no personal life.
And it’s usually your fault. The more successful you become, the more transparent your formerly private world becomes as a consequence.
Now, most of us are fortunate that our sometimes-messy private life will never be splashed across the tabloids or featured prominently on CNN.
That said, looking at how many of us utilize social media — we do it to ourselves.
Familial disputes, political ire and rants about your neighbors shouldn’t share a space with a proud listing you’d like to feature.
Personally, I treat everything on social media as if my most sensitive past or potential client were reading it. Facebook is powerful, but it can also tarnish your brand.
I’ve seen people post things that would be libelous if published by a third party. And again, they’re doing it to themselves.
7. Know your market.
Or at least the relevant geography in current events. This one actually deviates a little from Trump and Clinton, but I wanted to be inclusive and bring in a third party — even if it doesn’t meet the 15 percent standard set by the debate commission.
Do your homework every day. Understand your market at least as well as your competition. Know the questions headed your way, and know the answers, too.
A big business and a seat at the table should never replace preparation. At least this particular lesson came with a silver lining of sorts. If you truly don’t know the answer — say so. It’ll hurt, but it’ll avoid a lawsuit.
8. Sometimes it’s OK to enter fights you can’t win.
We don’t always come out on top, win every listing and convert every buyer. But sometimes just being in the mix lends us credibility and extends our ability to influence others.
“Losing” with grace and dignity, though a poor second-place trophy, still has value.
9. Be careful what you say, but be even more careful what you write.
Keep them, delete them, send them or trash them. Just don’t keep them on a private server in your basement when you’re the Secretary of State — ever.
I told you some of these would be more transparent than others.
Seriously, though, a wise man once told me, “Never say anything you wouldn’t want to be repeated in a court of law.” I would think that goes double for writing or emailing.
Your perception that something will never see the light of day should never be your litmus test justifying whether or not to put it out there.
So in an I-can-learn-something-from-anyone kind of way, these are the reflections I’ve come away with from election 2016.
Add your own in the comments, and for the love of God — keep the actual political debate on Facebook where it belongs.
Just do it on someone else’s Facebook. Remember: You have no personal life.