Priebus's GOP Autopsy Misses the Point

The Republican Party is violating time-tested, basic principles of sales and marketing. That's why the GOP is failing to communicate its messages. On Monday, the Republican National Committee released a massive reform strategy, whimsically labeled an "autopsy" or "reboot," to completely overhaul the GOP. Like Democrats in 1992, Republicans are growing hungry to win in 2014 and 2016.

Here is what is wrong with the Republican Party. This author taught in a sales training seminar firm in Eastern Europe, International Trendsetters. The solutions are overwhelmingly time-tested and proven in real life. This is not theory. Republicans are chronically making classic rookie sales mistakes.

"FAB" -- Features, Advantages, Benefits. You must explain how a policy benefits the voter. Bad salesmen talk about features -- the radio has a better tuner. Good salesmen talk about how the radio benefits the customer -- you will enjoy the music more and set a better mood for your love interest because it sounds better and clearer. People don't buy a mattress. They buy a good night's sleep. And maybe good décor.

On Monday, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus explained that we must talk about how Americans benefit from low taxes and lower national debt. We have to talk about how Republican policies will put more people to work, at higher salaries, improve our economy, and strengthen our country. Republicans talk about details -- lower taxes, lower regulations, lower deficits. We fail to explain why those details actually matter to the voter.

But isn't it obvious? No. Classic rookie mistake. It's obvious to you if you spend lots of time thinking about these things. It's not obvious to busy people who have other things to think about, which they feel are more important in their lives. Yes, you have to draw them a map.

There is an imbalance between the speaker who is extremely familiar with a topic and the listener who isn't. The speaker needs to understand how the speaker really sounds to the listener. Republicans skip over too many steps and assume too much. The American voters are smart. But they haven't spent as much time thinking about your topic as you have. We have to be able to empathize with the busy listener and even remember how we were when we first learned about these issues.

It is amazing that the GOP has been so bad at this, when Ronald Reagan was so good at it. If anyone is thinking of running for office, Step #1 is to listen to every speech Ronald Reagan ever gave. Several times. Reagan "got" it. Then the GOP lost it.

Next, the mind abhors a vacuum. What you don't say can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion. People have never stopped talking about cuts in education, even while education spending soars year after year. People will assume you want to help the rich by lowering taxes. They will assume you hate immigrants. They will assume you want women barefoot and pregnant. If you don't explain how GOP policies benefit the listener, their minds will fill in the vacuum with other explanations. If you don't provide a reason, their minds will provide one for you.

Third, love objections. This is one of the most powerful principles good salesmen know. We view objections with dread. A voter tells you why they don't like the GOP. Time-tested sales techniques have proven that objections are opportunities. When a prospect tells you what he is concerned about, you now have the opportunity to address his or her concerns.

This is especially true when a voter believes something that isn't true about Republicans -- if they are willing to talk to you, that is. Proven sales experience shows that when someone is willing to tell you their negative views, and talk to you about it, you have an open door to dramatically turn around their perceptions.

Of course you have to treat them as a future friend, not as a current enemy. But the overwhelming majority of successful sales are closed after the third or fourth objection. That's right, most sales succeed after not just the first negative response, but after several negative issues are raised and discussed. But you have to care about the other person as much as you care about yourself to answer their concerns fully, fairly, and respectfully.

Fourth, "ask for the order" as RNC Chairman Reince Priebus described on Monday. In other words, you have to show up. You are not going to win over any hearts or minds sitting in your office across the street from the Capitol South Metro station (the RNC headquarters). It is common sense that you have to go out and talk to Hispanics, Blacks, and other groups.

The GOP's "outreach" efforts have often been embarrassing. Republican campaigns appoint leaders of, say, "Korean-Americans for Bush," then order bumper stickers and campaign pins. And that's about it. Pretending to be doing outreach, but not really, is a Republican specialty.

Will they buy your product? I don't know. But I do know this: They will never buy your product if you don't go talk to them and ask. Many a salesman has struggled with having a call list but wasting the day avoiding making the sales calls. Most salespeople -- and Republicans -- spend most of their time making excuses to avoid going out and talking to people they might win over.

Fifth, how will you reach people? Salesmen spend a lot of effort to analyze the best way of communicating with people. The GOP has often relied mainly upon the mainstream media and very expensive TV ads.

Democrats can now completely bypass the media with their new massive micro-targeting databases. Democrats are able to talk directly to voters, unfiltered, without having to beg reporters to cover the issues or people they want, while controlling the spin placed on each news tidbit.

Finally, the best salesmen are respectful, they spend more time listening than talking, they care about what you want, they help you learn and understand the information you need to make your decision, and they help you find a solution that is right for you. The find out what you need instead of trying to force-fit what they want to sell you. Good salesmen don't waste one second of their short, fleeting lives talking to people who aren't interested. You may remember a good salesman as more of a friend.

Sales experts study how to get messages across because real money is on the line. Sales principles are the solutions for the GOP.

The Republican Party is violating time-tested, basic principles of sales and marketing. That's why the GOP is failing to communicate its messages. On Monday, the Republican National Committee released a massive reform strategy, whimsically labeled an "autopsy" or "reboot," to completely overhaul the GOP. Like Democrats in 1992, Republicans are growing hungry to win in 2014 and 2016.

Here is what is wrong with the Republican Party. This author taught in a sales training seminar firm in Eastern Europe, International Trendsetters. The solutions are overwhelmingly time-tested and proven in real life. This is not theory. Republicans are chronically making classic rookie sales mistakes.

"FAB" -- Features, Advantages, Benefits. You must explain how a policy benefits the voter. Bad salesmen talk about features -- the radio has a better tuner. Good salesmen talk about how the radio benefits the customer -- you will enjoy the music more and set a better mood for your love interest because it sounds better and clearer. People don't buy a mattress. They buy a good night's sleep. And maybe good décor.

On Monday, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus explained that we must talk about how Americans benefit from low taxes and lower national debt. We have to talk about how Republican policies will put more people to work, at higher salaries, improve our economy, and strengthen our country. Republicans talk about details -- lower taxes, lower regulations, lower deficits. We fail to explain why those details actually matter to the voter.

But isn't it obvious? No. Classic rookie mistake. It's obvious to you if you spend lots of time thinking about these things. It's not obvious to busy people who have other things to think about, which they feel are more important in their lives. Yes, you have to draw them a map.

There is an imbalance between the speaker who is extremely familiar with a topic and the listener who isn't. The speaker needs to understand how the speaker really sounds to the listener. Republicans skip over too many steps and assume too much. The American voters are smart. But they haven't spent as much time thinking about your topic as you have. We have to be able to empathize with the busy listener and even remember how we were when we first learned about these issues.

It is amazing that the GOP has been so bad at this, when Ronald Reagan was so good at it. If anyone is thinking of running for office, Step #1 is to listen to every speech Ronald Reagan ever gave. Several times. Reagan "got" it. Then the GOP lost it.

Next, the mind abhors a vacuum. What you don't say can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion. People have never stopped talking about cuts in education, even while education spending soars year after year. People will assume you want to help the rich by lowering taxes. They will assume you hate immigrants. They will assume you want women barefoot and pregnant. If you don't explain how GOP policies benefit the listener, their minds will fill in the vacuum with other explanations. If you don't provide a reason, their minds will provide one for you.

Third, love objections. This is one of the most powerful principles good salesmen know. We view objections with dread. A voter tells you why they don't like the GOP. Time-tested sales techniques have proven that objections are opportunities. When a prospect tells you what he is concerned about, you now have the opportunity to address his or her concerns.

This is especially true when a voter believes something that isn't true about Republicans -- if they are willing to talk to you, that is. Proven sales experience shows that when someone is willing to tell you their negative views, and talk to you about it, you have an open door to dramatically turn around their perceptions.

Of course you have to treat them as a future friend, not as a current enemy. But the overwhelming majority of successful sales are closed after the third or fourth objection. That's right, most sales succeed after not just the first negative response, but after several negative issues are raised and discussed. But you have to care about the other person as much as you care about yourself to answer their concerns fully, fairly, and respectfully.

Fourth, "ask for the order" as RNC Chairman Reince Priebus described on Monday. In other words, you have to show up. You are not going to win over any hearts or minds sitting in your office across the street from the Capitol South Metro station (the RNC headquarters). It is common sense that you have to go out and talk to Hispanics, Blacks, and other groups.

The GOP's "outreach" efforts have often been embarrassing. Republican campaigns appoint leaders of, say, "Korean-Americans for Bush," then order bumper stickers and campaign pins. And that's about it. Pretending to be doing outreach, but not really, is a Republican specialty.

Will they buy your product? I don't know. But I do know this: They will never buy your product if you don't go talk to them and ask. Many a salesman has struggled with having a call list but wasting the day avoiding making the sales calls. Most salespeople -- and Republicans -- spend most of their time making excuses to avoid going out and talking to people they might win over.

Fifth, how will you reach people? Salesmen spend a lot of effort to analyze the best way of communicating with people. The GOP has often relied mainly upon the mainstream media and very expensive TV ads.

Democrats can now completely bypass the media with their new massive micro-targeting databases. Democrats are able to talk directly to voters, unfiltered, without having to beg reporters to cover the issues or people they want, while controlling the spin placed on each news tidbit.

Finally, the best salesmen are respectful, they spend more time listening than talking, they care about what you want, they help you learn and understand the information you need to make your decision, and they help you find a solution that is right for you. The find out what you need instead of trying to force-fit what they want to sell you. Good salesmen don't waste one second of their short, fleeting lives talking to people who aren't interested. You may remember a good salesman as more of a friend.

Sales experts study how to get messages across because real money is on the line. Sales principles are the solutions for the GOP.