7 Political issues you should discuss

by Jeremy Powers on November 1, 2010

5 United States Presidents

Image courtesy of:  Beverly & Pack

You are informed.  You know the issues.  You know the players.  You understand the dynamics required to make things better. 

I am talking about your industry.  Is that what you thought I was talking about? 

When it comes to national politics, I recommend you don’t talk share your philosophy with your customers, vendors, or employees.  The chances you agree with the people in your network about all of the issues is slim, and I have never seen a business owner profit from a contentious political discussion.

There is, however, an opportunity for you to passionately discuss politics without hurting your business.  The secret to having energetic political conversations in your office is simple:

Be passionate about your business.

When it comes to your industry, I encourage you to talk about the big changes, the little changes, and who is doing what and why.  The more connected you are to the gossip and noise, the better your ability to profit. 

7 political topics you should discuss

1. Player changes – Power politicians know when the votes are shifting.  Which top salesperson left your competitor last week?  Why did they leave?  Where are they going?

2. Competitive financials – Engaged political players know how much money their opponents have in the bank.  Are your vendors taking out an unhealthy amount of debt?  Did one of your vendors just announce an IPO?  Did one of your top customers just file for divorce?

3. Up-and-comers – Today’s top players will be retired tomorrow.  Who are the impressive up-and-comers in your industry?  Which upstart companies seem to be having success?  Which young salesperson in your industry seems to really connecting with important buyers?  Is your organization working to develop future leaders?

4. Closeted skeletons – Your industry has secrets.  One of your competitor’s major customers was insulted by being assigned a young new sales rep.  Your packaging supplier is using a lower standard of paper pulp than last year.  ABC Company just signed a license agreement with Disney for next year’s big movie.

5. The latest polls – Favorability polls are one way politicians track their relationship with their constituents.  Your business has polls too.  How are the customer service surveys this month?  How many complaints have you had this quarter?  How many referrals and testimonials has your business received this year?  What about your competitors?

6. Issue relevance – National politicians know some issues are more important to their constituents and others, and the “hot” issues change.  What are the hot issues for your customers?  Is your team spending 80% of their time improving delivery speed when your customers are more worried about durability?

7. Court the money players – $1500 a plate dinners are probably not your business model.  Your business, however, probably does make most of the profits from one or two key product lines.  Be sure to keep your key customers and products top of mind as you innovate, grow, and diversify.  Make sure your team is allocating the proper time and resources to your “old reliable.”

You will increase your profits if you harness your political passions (and *cough,* desire for gossip, *cough*) toward knowing more about your industry. 

Business ain’t bean-bag, either.

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