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Selling Past the Close - Dilbert Blog

Selling Past the Close

I’ve been watching the Democratic National Convention and wondering if this will be the first time in history that we see a candidate’s poll numbers plunge after a convention.

On the surface, the convention is going great. Michelle Obama made a speech for the ages. Bill Clinton was his masterful self. Bernie gave a full-throated endorsement of Clinton. The whole affair has been a festival of inclusiveness. The media is eating it like cake. All good, right?

That’s how it looks on the surface. And if you’re already a Clinton supporter, it probably looks great all the way down.

But if you’re an undecided voter, and male, you’re seeing something different. You’re seeing a celebration that your role in society is permanently diminished. And it’s happening in an impressive venue that was, in all likelihood, designed and built mostly by men. Men get to watch it all at home, in homes designed and built mostly by men, thanks to the technology that was designed and built mostly by men. I mention that as context, not opinion.

I agree with Michelle Obama’s gratitude about Clinton’s success so far, and how the country now “takes it for granted that a woman can be president.” That’s a big, big deal, and an accomplishment that you can never take away from Clinton, no matter how it all ends. I would argue – as did Michelle Obama – that Clinton already removed the glass ceiling. Now it’s just a question of who the voters prefer.

And that brings us to a concept called “Selling past the close.” That’s a persuasion mistake. Clinton has already sold the country on the idea that a woman can be president. Sales experts will tell you that once the sale is made, you need to stop selling, because you have no chance of making things better, but you might give the buyer a reason to change her mind.

Obama understood how to avoid selling past the close. At some point during Obama’s first presidential election campaign the country mentally agreed that an African-American could be their next president. So Obama accepted the sale and talked about other stuff. If he had dwelled on race, and his place in history, he would have risked making things worse. So he stayed quiet on race (mostly) and won. Twice.

Clinton is taking a different approach. As Michelle Obama said, we now take for granted that a woman can be president. That sale is made. But Clinton keeps selling. And that’s an enormous persuasion mistake.

I watched singer Alicia Keys perform her song Superwoman at the convention and experienced a sinking feeling. I’m fairly certain my testosterone levels dropped as I watched, and that’s not even a little bit of an exaggeration. Science says men’s testosterone levels rise when they experience victory, and drop when they experience the opposite. I watched Keys tell the world that women are the answer to our problems. True or not, men were probably not feeling successful and victorious during her act.

Let me say this again, so you know I’m not kidding. Based on what I know about the human body, and the way our thoughts regulate our hormones, the Democratic National Convention is probably lowering testosterone levels all over the country. Literally, not figuratively. And since testosterone is a feel-good chemical for men, I think the Democratic convention is making men feel less happy. They might not know why they feel less happy, but they will start to associate the low feeling with whatever they are looking at when it happens, i.e. Clinton.

On the 2D playing field – where policies and facts matter – the Democratic National Convention is doing great. And when it comes to exciting women, it might be the best ever. But on an emotional level – where hormones rule – men have left the building…that they built.

For the record, I endorse Hillary Clinton for president, for my personal safety, because I live in California where it is dangerous for people to think you are a Trump supporter. My political views don’t align with either candidate and I don’t vote, in order to protect my objectivity.

If you read books, you might want to read this one, because the last part of this sentence doesn’t contain a reason.