Death of a Salesman


Theresa May would do well to spend some time today in the sales office of a photocopier firm, or in the company of an insurance salesman. No doubt Anglian Windows or some other well-honed sales operation exists in this fine and (still) capitalist country where she could sit for a few hours and listen to the sales experience of hard-skinned salespeople.

What May would learn would save her a lot of time, stress and face. She’d be told that the key element in a sale is having the buyer sell the deal to themselves – to listen to them – that silence is the salesman’s best tool. She’d learn that when the buyer objects, she should note the objections and have solutions to overcome these objections one by one. Finally, she’d learn that the worst sales are the sales where the buyer signs up just to get the salesman out of the room but then unsubscribes later on – during the cool-down period – after discussing the deal with their family. In these such cases the sales teams will tell you, just walk away. There is no point being a blinkered salesperson talking of no compromise when the buyer wants compromise and a lot more.

There are amazing salespeople out there who could probably sell ice to Eskimos even in the days of Eskimo desalination plants. But they don’t. There aren’t. “You really need to buy our ice because yours is drenched in seal pee”. In the real world the best salespeople use their talent to make as much commission as possible in the right job with the best margins. You’ll find them in the top estate agencies, in luxury car showrooms in W1, in front of screens in the City and working as agents for Premiership footballers. Mrs May is not one of them – she couldn’t even see off old, shell-suited, antisemitic Corbyn at the last election for a majority.

May should see all the signs of a walk-away no deal. To any salesman of any competence they are bleedingly obvious: first, the buyer is ‘strongly opposed’ (Barnier two days ago to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) to key parts of Theresa May’s Chequers proposals for a future trade deal. Second, compliance is already talking of rejecting Chequers (Labour, the Brexiteers, DUP MPs and even Remoaners like Justine Greening say they will not vote for Chequers in the Commons). And finally the buyer’s family (the 27 member states, even down to great cousin Walloon in Belgium) cannot all in unison see fit to allow Chequers as is to pass….any sale is off during the “cool-down” anyway. All this aside from the facts that Ollie Robbins couldn’t sell double glazing or photocopiers even if he tried (he joined the civil service, so is presumably not motivated by “killing the bunny” sales), that there is only one buyer in this market, and that all advice from other salespeople back at the ranch is that Chequers will end in “diddly squat” (Boris yesterday).

Walk away, Mrs May. Walk away. Flog the buggers something else – like Canada +.