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Got Politics?

It’s the election season and we are inundated with headlines on the players, policies, perceptions, peccadilloes and politics. For my clients who sell to the public sector we have a recurring conversation that is focused on winning in a political world.


When you are in sales, even if you don’t get passionately wrapped around an elections cycle, you will be affected by the outcome. Many times I hear how someone rigged a deal or that it’s too hard to do business with government. Rarely is there any true corruption and government is no harder to do business with than any commercial sector. You just have to understand the language and know the rules. The people you meet with day-to-day, the government workers who serve as the implementers and practitioners of the solution, are keenly aware of the politics. In fact, often these are the folks who waved signs, worked in precincts and made calls for the political leadership in that territory. Politics matter, so you have to be attentive and sensitive. Selling to government is a relationship business.



The vendor has a role, which is best positioned as a partner to the government sector. Mr. and Mrs. Vendor should feel the public sector’s pain and be committed to the right solution for the right price.


The customer has a role, which is best described as the public servant who wakes up day-in and day-out knowing that it is imperative for them to serve their leadership and the public they represent.


The lobbyist has a role, and no, it’s not buying dinners and throwing parties. The lobbyist serves as a liaison to the customers and the vendors (i.e. their clients). The lobbyist is an interpreter, and advisor.


If you understand these roles and how they work together you will have great success. If you don’t understand or choose to ignore your role, you are in for a disappointing ride. When an effort goes off the rails, it’s often because of politics or perception. There’s many outside influences and even more outside influencers. Whether you are a donkey or an elephant, you can thrive, but you need to understand the rules of the game.


Tell me about how you used the rules of politics to crush your competition or how you became road kill to a savvier player.



Add New Comment


  • Roy Cales

    We constantly hear how hard it is to convince companies to bring on lobbyists. You have to look at it from your CFO's perspective. All he wants to see is what kind of an ROI you will get for your investment. Any lobbying firm worth their salt can give you actual case studies demonstrating how they brought value to their clients. In addition, you can really impress your management by requiring that the firm you hire sign up to actual performance metrics in their contract.

  • Bert Mcghee

    The difficulty for me is in getting my company on board with bringing on a lobbyist. I continue to get beat on opportunities by competitors who have lobbying help. The company, which isn’t huge, says that I have to be the sales rep and the trusted advisor.