The Obama Sales-Pitch Stumble: Don’t Let it Happen to You

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By Allan Boress, CPA - Barack Obama – despite his multitudes of handlers and advisors – falls victim to the same kinds of mistakes CPAs, and all other professionals make, when they are asked “Why?”

In every important sales interview, you will likely be asked some form of “Why should we go with you?” This is so basic, yet many professionals and CPAs stumble their way through it – because they are not prepared and do not know what buyers find persuasive. Also, most CPAs couldn’t give a hoot about “selling,” which makes it easy for me and you to build a high-profile, high-profit practice even in a down economy.

Most CPAs, being unprepared, will answer that question with some form of, “We have great client service.” Which is what their last CPA told the buyer as well – and obviously wasn’t true, or the new CPA wouldn’t be on a sales interview in the first place.

Barack Obama, candidate for the Most Important Human in the Universe, also stumbled recently when a 7 year-old girl asked him why he was running for president (see it on ).

“America, uh, is, is, no longer what it … it could be. What it once was, yada yada…”

This is not a slam against Mr. Obama or his politics. It is a knock against his handlers who obviously forgot to prep him for the most obvious kind of question he would be asked.

Mr. Obama, however, is not the first such candidate to make a similar boo-boo. When asked by Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes why he wanted to be president, Bob Dole stumbled and said, “I don’t know. I guess it’s my turn…”

Rather than embarrass oneself as did Messrs. Obama and Dole, be prepared when the client asks you an obvious, but tough, question. People want to know facts, results, experience, what is unique about you and the firm, the relationships you have with others in business, what is different about you compared to your competitors.

Speaking in “terms of three” is a powerful idea first exposed to me by Drew Kaplan, of DAK catalog fame ( ). Drew wrote that he believed the human mind was wired to speak in terms of three, think in terms of three, and be persuaded similarly. Examples include “red, white and blue;” “Father, Son and Holy Spirit;” “Moe, Larry and Curly;” “shake, rattle and roll;” “Kentucky Fried Chicken.” You get the idea. Ideas expressed in threes tend to sink in a little bit better. Pay attention to threes and see what you discover.

So…when asked by the little girl why he wanted to be president, Obama could’ve been prepared and said something like, “I want to make life better for working people, I want to make healthcare available to everyone, and I want to improve our standing with the rest of the world.”

Rather than fumble along, would that have been better?

By Allan Boress, CPA, CVA – author of The I-Hate-Selling Audio CDs, available at

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