Broward Tea Party

Broward Tea Party News and Views

Selling the Tea Party, By Charles Robertson, co-founder Broward Tea party

When we collected votes for our Broward Tea Party’s 10 Must Read Books for Conservatives, the list was impressive.  There were over 40 suggestions covering all the expected, well-known authors.  As I reviewed the list I couldn’t help but think that there was one book missing, for me it should lead the list.  Most people would be surprised to find this book on such a list.  The thing is, most conservatives have read a variety of the top books and already have a good understanding of conservatism.  They know the history, the when, where and whys of how we arrived at our current condition.  What most are lacking is the individual knowledge and skill to effect change in others.  This is where my book comes in.

It was over 20 years ago when my older brother, who had become a very successful salesman, told me to read, How to Master the Art of Selling by Tom Hopkins.  At the time, I wasn’t involved in sales or so I thought, but I foresaw the need to improve this skill.  This would be one of those books that you pick up and can’t put down.  I learned very quickly that everyone is in sales.  It doesn’t matter if you’re selling ideas to your kids, your friends, your co-workers or your boss, the fact is we’re selling things every day, and most of us don’t know how to do it effectively.

How to Master the Art of Selling is a well-named title as selling is indeed an art and a skill like any other that can be learned and perfected.  To watch a master salesperson at work is to witness a psychologist, a counselor, a teacher, and a motivator all rolled into one.  In the hands of such an expert most people aren’t even aware that they’re being “sold” anything.  The beauty of a sales transaction being done by a pro is that the salesperson directs the process in a smooth, friendly, helpful manner that makes the buyer feel like a winner in the end.  Getting to that point requires preparation, practice, patience, persistence, and more p-words than I can think of. 

At every Tea Party meeting I see the same exchanges taking place, members discussing their pet issue or candidate or concern.  Someone is always trying to persuade (selling) someone else or others.  Listening to these exchanges, where most of the sales rules are being broken, causes me concern that our important message is likewise not being sold to those who need to hear it most.  My first concern is that our members are not pushing our message hard enough.  They’re avoiding opportunities to connect to others, missing teachable moments.  My second concern is that when they are reaching out to share our message they’re not effective.  It’s not as simple as laying out facts, and making your best arguments; there is a method to selling and it’s quite different from what most people think of the sales process.

Before I get to the sales process, the first thing we need to understand is what we’re selling and that’s easy; we’re selling our three core valuesFiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free markets are the answer to a whole host of current problems.  When you overhear someone talking about high gas prices that’s the opportunity to sell Tea Party core values.  Sound fiscal policy would limit speculation and reduce exports; limited government could open up pipelines and allow refinery growth, all of which would reduce gas prices.  Very soon everyone will be complaining about the income tax they’re paying.  BINGO! That’s our cue to sell Tea Party core values.  On that issue we have more ammunition than the Army.  Now about that sales process.

Everyone knows that word-of-mouth is the most effective means of advertising.  Street rallies, debates, emails, and other forms of advertising all raise awareness, but nothing works as well as a direct conversation.  These opportunities are where we will not just educate but hopefully motivate others to take action.  The goal in our encounters is to not to sell the whole enchilada in one shot.  Hitting a home run in these encounters is getting someone to attend a Tea Party meeting.  The meetings are where the sales transaction is “closed.”  This is where they will get a more complete understanding of our current crisis and thus become motivated to get involved in the solution.   

To get others to give up a weeknight to attend a meeting hosted by a group they’ve heard God knows what about, is not an easy sale. Those of us who think we can “talk” our way into this sale don’t understand the process.  The process involves mostly listening, questioning, and providing feedback.  The listening aspect disarms the “buyer” and provides you the information you need to ask the right questions.  The questions identify the problem or need.  Let’s say you’ve established that the problem is the high level of income tax.  The next step is the action step which makes the powerless taxpayer feel empowered.  The action is to join others at a meeting, to unite and be part a larger powerful force fighting tax injustice. 

I realize that there’s far more to this sales process than what I’ve just touched on.  This deserves a deeper look into the tools at our disposal, so let’s consider this blog, part #1 of #2.  In part #2, I’ll provide a sample dialogue that shows you what to say, how to lead the conversation and how to close the sale.  The techniques you’ll acquire will prove valuable beyond just recruiting for our cause.  If you’re looking forward to part #2 then you’ve already learned one of the techniques; sell the benefit, build anticipation, and keep them wanting more.

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3 thoughts on “Selling the Tea Party, By Charles Robertson, co-founder Broward Tea party

  1. I just purchased a new book … for my self, it was the Little Red Book of Selling by Jeffery Gitomer and is an interactive book meaning there are website excercises to go with it. I have to say it is one of my favorites, along with “The 10 Faces of Innovation”. Excellent advice Charles!

  2. Selling an idea is not as easy as selling something you can touch. While the process is the same, the “customer” has ample opportunity to think of competing ideas – which leads to mental challenges by the customer whether stated or not. We cannot always detect those competing thoughts. Seeing and touching a product necessarily will focus the customer. Objections to one part of the product can be overcome by pointing to a part of the product that will overcome the objection. Not so with an idea – or three ideas.

    I agree totally with this line you wrote:

    “Before I get to the sales process, the first thing we need to understand is what we’re selling and that’s easy; we’re selling our three core values. Fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free markets…” – it is exactly why I joined this group.

    In my view, therein lies the issue… we are not united in the values enough to accomplish the mission. We are not all on board with these three core values. Yes they are important but not in that order i.e. placing these three at the top of our concerns. Perhaps some will place them in the top six or seven or ten but not first, second, and third. That was demonstrated when the group was asked three questions by myself. “Which candidate do you believe would be the most responsible fiscally? Which would most adhere to the Constitution?” And finally, “Which truly believes in Free Markets?” There was only one answer for all three questions. There was only one candidate that had a voting record to prove it. Yet the objections to that candidate were all about other, apparently more important, issues.

    So, how do you promote and sell an idea when the customers mind allows competing ideas to run roughshod over the very ideas we want to sell? “Mr. Jones, I know you do not want a black car, but if you take this black car I will throw in the sport wheels and premium sound, which you also want, for free! Plus I will take off another five-hundred dollars!” So Mr. Jones is willing to overlook a part of the product because he really wants premium sound and sport wheels – and the five-hundred dollars is the push that removes the objection. He drives off in a black car, which he later comes to really be fond of.

    Unite the movement around the three core issues by selling them to the members first. We may have let the moment pass for the Presidential race, but not too late for the Senate and House campaigns. More members is always a good thing, but not if they are not “sold” on the values.

  3. … well I have found I cannot sell ice to..”well noboody needs the clue here” unless ones whole heart is in it! I have to say I include to the TEA party in almost EVERYTHING I do. Just as my faith, prefer to demonstrate it in ACTION rather than word only.

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