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What Can Politics Teach You about Sales?

by | Sep 15, 2015

Kennedy-Nixon First Ever U.S. Debate Chicago, 1960

Kennedy-Nixon First Ever U.S. Debate
Chicago, 1960

Let’s study the very first United States political debate. 1960. Kennedy vs. Nixon. 

Kennedy arrives in Chicago rested and tanned. Nixon shuffles in with 102-degree temperature and nursing a knee infection having caused him to lose weight and look gaunt.

Each are asked if they want any make-up. Nixon and Kennedy decline and Nixon’s crew hastily applies some “Lazy Shave” over-the-counter cosmetic to cover his famous five-o’clock shadow. Out of Nixon’s view, Kennedy’s team gives him a full cosmetic touch-up.

According to the excellent research of Leonard Mlodinow in Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior Nixon came out ahead in this debate IF YOU LISTENED ON THE RADIO. His content and knowledge of topics surpasses Kennedy’s.

But – when viewed on TV, and in spite of Kennedy’s higher pitched voice (we give more power and credibility to lower pitched voices) Kennedy wins.

And, by an extremely slight margin, Kennedy wins the election just six weeks later.

What politics teaches you about sales:

  1. Content still counts
  2. Your nonverbal counts even more. Please “look” good: smiling, relaxed, strong eye contact.
  3. You MUST be congruent – your verbal and nonverbal need to match up.

Karen Cortell Reisman, M.S., author of 3 books and President of Speak For Yourself®, works with organizations and executives on how to communicate to make more money. It’s all in how you speak for yourself. Read more at www.SpeakForYourself.com/blog/


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