Finally! In 5 days Kenya decides who their next leader is. In a few days the campaigning will be over. The trail will grow cold. So, before it does, and in keeping with the mood of the nation, here are three lessons in selling from the Kenyan campaign trail.

Always ask for the close

Whether it’s at a funeral he has ‘hijacked’, or a church service he has strategically inserted himself into, or an outright political rally, no politician will assume the close. They will not assume that the prospect (voter that is the audience, off- or online) will know why they are pitching. A politician will not take the mental stance that, “It’s obvious I want their vote. No need to tell them and sound vain.” No. Over the campaign trail and to any audience, formal or informal, of one or one thousand, whether he’s said it before or not, none of these will matter.

In closing his pitch, the politician will unashamedly ask for your vote. This is the first of three key lessons in selling from the campaign trail. Meanwhile, the professional salesman dithers over this critical step in selling, thinking, “I’ll look desperate” or “What if he says no? I’ll feel rejected” or, the worst, “It’s obvious; I don’t need to state it.” No. It’s not obvious. And, yes, you do need to sate it. So, when the signs are right, like the politician, shamelessly ask for the payment or signature. Close!

Be alive to the market place

Hitherto BFFs the President and his deputy have been engaged in a growing-in-toxicity face-off.  Kalonzo Musyoka left, and before you could say Wajackoyah, had returned to Azimio.  There’s 4 not 3 Presidential aspirants. Nairobi requires 850million litres of water daily not 525,000. One poll shows Raila leading, another, a week later, Ruto. Hyena gonads, cannabis sativa, and snake venom can catapult Kenya out of debt. The market place during the campaign trail is noisy. Being alive to it is necessary. Be alive to it in at a national level in general, and your area specifically. It’s basic market intelligence. And if the debates are anything to go by, many politicians are blissfully ignorant of this. 

lessons in selling from the campaign trail

There’s one vying to be my MP that lost my (potential) vote because of her level of cluelessness of the problems her constituents face. “The problems are obvious. Everyone knows them,” she repeatedly stated. Listen to her response to how she will ensure that public land in Lang’ata won’t be grabbed. “Nitaona kwanza kama kuna shamba ya public halafu itachungwa tu.” Worse, she was nonchalant about her indifference. She was representative of the sales person that awakes and shows up at a client meeting determined to wing it. So, to the observation that, “Your competitor gave a return of 6% last year., and yours is only 2,” he stares blankly. He is clueless of what’s out there. The prospect sees a crack through which to escape and avoid the sale, likely because he doubts the seller’s integrity. Be alive to the market place

Siasa weka kwa lungs. Lessons in selling from the campaign trail

You win some you lose some. (Selling is a game of numbers).  Today’s suspect is tomorrow’s prospect. (Circumstances are dynamic). Today’s rejection is tomorrow sale. (Like the hawker in traffic knows; when you roll up your window today, you may roll it down tomorrow) Don’t take the promises made and most else you hear during the campaigning period to heart. Your heart might get an attack when you discover it was all just hot air. ‘Usiweke maneno ya siasa kwa roho, weka kwa lungs’, so Governor Mandago advised us Kenyans. ‘Put’ politics in your lungs not heart or mind. That way, when the election is over, you exhale and poof!, it’s gone, forgotten.

They say in politics there are no permanent friends, nor permanent enemies, only shared interests. So, keeping the constantly shifting sands of politics in the heart and mind will stress you unnecessarily. Quit personalizing issues. As the late President Kibaki also reminded us, “Election Day is just one day that will come and go, and then you are back to your day-to-day work.”  And to you, that is selling. So, take rejection in stride, and keep disappointments in your lungs, not heart.

Fellow Kenyans. Vote wisely on the 9th. Pursue peace.  And exhale.

Read: Lessons in selling from government mistruths, half-truths and lies.

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