Politics Needs Fewer Sales Staff, More Business Development Managers

business-development-sign-smallOne problem with Australian politics – and most UK and US politics too – is most Party leaders* are sales staff, not business development managers.

They’re after the quick business/quick sales so that their sales cycle numbers – the next election – look good, but it is at the expense of long-term customer acquisition:

  • current marginal seat campaigning tactics,
  • small target “leadership”,
  • technocratic fiddling around the edges of policy differences,
  • and similar practices

all work to ensure there can be NO growing of a solid base of voters, inspired by a leader’s vision.

When was the last time you saw an Australian political leader grab a big, bold, forward-looking, new, idea or agenda, and then try to get the community broadly on board with it?  Gough Whitlam in 1972John Hewson in 1993?  Does Tony Abbott’s “Stop The Boats” count?**

Most are satisfied to claim a mandate for something even when voters have been clearly opposed, when they survive in spite of its advocacy – Mike Baird’s unpopular commitment to asset sales come to mind.

There’s so many important issues out there begging for a long-term perspective, matched with solutions capable of inspiring Australians, but there’s an unwillingness to put in any kind of a concerted effort to explain and persuade – so until we have political leaders prepared to put an effort into business development rather than sales, we seem locked forever into two things:

  • a downward spiral of lowest-common-denominator policies that pander to existing prejudices and demons rather than voters’ better angels, and
  • a cowardly concealment of real intentions, behind ambiguous platitudes.


* Party officials, Members of Parliament, political advisors … they’re all leaders, though many don’t act like it.
** I don’t think it does, because I don’t believe it was bold or new – it was mostly pandering to prejudices already in voters’ minds.  Feel free to disagree!


About Mike Smith

Partner in Ethical Consulting Services: www.ethicalconsulting.com; sometime University lecturer; previously Government Relations consultant; before that Labor Party State Secretary in Northern Territory; union advocate with LHMU/United Voice in NT and NSW; hobby – election campaigns!

Posted on April 15, 2015, in campaigning, Change, Culture, Democracy, ideology, marketing, Political tactics, Politics, Stakeholder engagement, Strategy. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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