Capitalism Kills Competition

This was the key phrase singularly extracted by all UK news outlets from the newly formed Coalition government’s Business Minister, a certain Vince Cable, at his Liberal party conference last week.

Despite softening by the last minute addition of the prefix “unrestrained“, the accusations ran that “Red Vince” was not simply playing into the left-leaning dreams of his door-knocking activists, but truly about to send Britain’s commerce back to the 70s dark ages.

It created huge media coverage and much of the accompanying analysis was, let’s be honest about it, remote-control trashingly useless. Then I read one journalist with whom I should naturally concur yet despite having an awesome command of the written word, I usually find him a touch too brusque and righteous for my purpose. On this occasion The Telegraph’s Simon Heffer rose above all other commentators with this riposte.

Capitalism creates competition

How easy is that? How come no-one else managed such brilliant simplicity?

He went on to batter another claim – that markets are rigged – by again the straight forward question, ‘which markets, Vince?’

Taken together, this approach reminded me of the always annoying and perpetually negative training that has coloured the career of BBC ‘moderators’ from the time I first noticed the tendency through Nicky Campbell and obviously the once-great Paxo, and has accelerated through to the Stephen Sackur’s of the network today. In essence, whatever the argument of the interviewee, think on the spot of the exact opposite and ram that question down their throats. In Paxman’s famous own words, think, “why is this lying bastard lying to me?“.

In his piece Heffer does this with greater majesty. And of course, what an incredible example of a type of sales objection handling.

Despite all the available knowledge, the single most common response to an objection I hear from the mouths of reps in the field is “yeah, but…”. No empathy, zero exploration, absent understanding. I cringe then weep every time.

Even if such best-practice process is alien to you, at least appreciate the power of pausing for a moment, before asking how they feel about the counter argument. One where rather creates is considered over kill.

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