A couple of weeks ago I wrote a very
brief, yet hot topic post about politics, social media and sales. I did not
expect any phone calls or emails, but boy oh boy did I get them. It seems my
post opened the door, so to speak, for a variety of questions ranging from
generic about social media being personal to “how dare my customers hold my
political view against me”. So, I’m going to use this week’s post to expand a
bit on my commentary, and hopefully this post will answer many of the questions
To sum up personal viewpoints and
opinions with regards to sales, whether you like it or not, people will do
business with you if they hold you in high regard. Unfortunately, while this is
not always fair, it is reality. To illustrate please allow me to provide you
with this example.
Robert is a former colleague. We worked
together many years ago, and while I’ve not seen him in some time, we stayed in
touch by email every now and then. Over the past ten years Robert married,
became a father, and moved into a new home in a new neighborhood. All seems
pretty normal. Except, Robert and his wife began to change, and this too is
normal. They became more successful in their careers and became parents. Like
many, their own personal outlooks on life changed, and so the story goes.
However, both Robert and his wife went from being somewhat conservative to a
bit more liberal in their political views. Both educated in Catholic grade
schools and high schools, they have shunned Catholic schools, and are very
outspoken about the public education system. They are vocal on big box stores
being evil empires, this environmental group is superior to that environmental
group, etc. etc. Again, no big deal, right?
Well, both Robert and his wife take to
social media like moth’s to flames. They seem to take great enjoyment in
writing about their opinions and viewpoints. And, while many do similarly, they
do not shield themselves behind privacy or security settings. Rather, they are
very public, so much so that local newspapers have quoted from their musings.
Obviously, when being so vocal, and publicly vocal, you will open yourself up to
opposing viewpoints and criticism.
It appears that more than a few of
Robert’s clients are not on the same page as he is with some of his opinions.
In fact, over the past fifteen months Robert has experienced a 21% decline in
sales in what was once considered a protected sales territory. And, not too
long ago, human resources had a sit down with him to discuss the policies on
use of social media. Robert read my post and called me angrily about it. He
does not agree that personal opinions and viewpoints should play a role in one’s
career, especially in sales.
To summarize and wrap up this post, here’s
my response to Robert: “Old friend you have got to snap out of it. People want
to do business with people they like and are oftentimes like them. You may not
agree that sales should be personal, but it is. You have no one to blame but
yourself and your wife. You’ve chosen to be outspoken in a public manner and
your clients don’t like it or in some cases agree. As much as its your right to
your opinion, they too have the right to disagree, especially when your
opinion goes directly against their business. Robert, you recently wrote an
op-ed on that big box store that just opened down the street from you home, blasting
their business practices, hiring policies, etc. Yet, your number one customer
sells products to this company. Of course they aren’t happy about your
So many things came to mind…think before
you speak (or write)…it’s not just what you say but how you say it…and remember
you chose sales as a career, accept the up’s & down’s that go along with