Lessons in listening from Barack Obama and how that translates to more sales

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By: Lexi Pettigrew | Mar 25, 2021

By Ciara Feely 

I just sat down to write this article after procrastinating about it for an hour. I wrote 5 words. Then decided it was time to have a cup of tea. My head wasn’t in it. As I waited for the kettle to boil, Cody Keenan was introduced on the radio. He was a speech writer with Barack Obama. He shared a story of how they co-wrote some of his greatest speeches. The techniques they used to ensure every word landed with intention and each person listening felt it was written for them.

Each speech started with “The Download”. This was a process where they would sit, and Barack would download what was on his mind that he needed to get across in his speech. Cody would then go away and put some structure to it as he wrote the first draft.  What he shared next was what was most fascinating to me as it relates to the world of sales.

Obama had instructed Cody to spend time in the mail room, to read the letters the American people would write to him and to read a minimum of 10 emails per day. This was where the magic happened, this was how he listened to the people. It served 2 purposes:

  1.  They discovered what topics were important to people - what were their worries or fears.They then crafted speeches around the issues that were coming up over and over again.
  2. And this is my favourite one - they observed the language people were using, their exact words, their phrases, what was in their heart.  They then used those words to craft speeches that landed. Speeches that resonated with people.  Speeches that won hearts and minds. And ultimately won votes. But most of all, showed he cared. That he listened, that he understood.

Your clients need that approach right now. It is key to building relationships that lead to more profitable business. It is key to building better sales pitches, opening up more conversations and building better proposals and sales tools. Tools that will WIN you business when you get them right. When your clients feel they were created for them, to help them make the right decision.

These words are the result of me putting on the kettle and having a cup of tea. If I hadn’t done it then, this article would never have been written. I would have gone in a different direction!  It shows to me the power of pausing to listen, the power of putting on the kettle and having a cup of tea to help you find your direction and indeed - one of the reasons why the power of Barack Obama worked.

So, these words are the result of me putting on the kettle and having a cup of tea.  If I hadn’t done it then, this article would never have been written. I would have gone in a different direction!

I am inviting you to put the kettle on and have a cup of tea while joining the MPI CommuniTEA Meet-Up Event. It is a place to chat, to listen to network and meet people who get it, who care and who can help. Or perhaps you can help them as we all navigate the complexities of being in the events industry right now. This is the link to join us on.  We have a cup of tea together every month. And each month we take a different topic to guide our conversation. This month it is Listening. Yes, listening. There are so many lessons to be learned from it. And I have a few spectacular stories of listening myself. Register today and put your kettle on! You just never know the power of a good cup of tea and a chat.



A little about Ciara.

I am a sales strategist who shows people how to build relationships that WIN business. I believe in the power of building partnership relationships rather than being transactional in sales. Community is very important to me in my business and home life. I live in a tiny rural village in the south of Ireland and I’m a mother of twins. I am also the Director of Community for the MPI UK and Ireland Chapter. Along with Emma Wellstead (our VP of Community) I run the monthly CommuniTEA Meet-UP. Do join us for a chat. We’d love to hear from you.  https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJcqc-ivqjIiEtZ8X-5bbwDZHIfIJnHQEymQ



Lexi-Pettigrew-26e mini
Lexi Pettigrew
MPI UK & Ireland, VP of Communications


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