What Ronald Reagan Can Teach Us About Sales
You hear a lot about Ronald Reagan from politicians
these days, on both sides of the aisle. History
regards him as one of America’s greatest presidents,
so he gets name-dropped by a lot of people who attempt
to identify with him.
But what you don’t hear about is what Ronald Reagan
can teach us about sales, because he was a master
His most important goal – and greatest accomplishment
– was toppling the Soviet Union. While it’s generally
believed that he did it simply by out-spending them on
military buildup and nuclear missiles, that’s not
Let me tell you how he really did it.
Reagan’s Introduction to the Soviets
Ronald Reagan’s eventual domination of the Soviet
Union began even before he started going after them in
It was all about the first impression he made. First
impressions count. First impressions last. And
Reagan’s first impression, to the Soviets, was of a
man of power and respect.
When Ronald Reagan arrived for the first time in the
Soviet Union, it was winter, and it was downright cold
outside – typical Russian winter weather with sub-zero
temperatures and gusting winds and snow.
And then it happened….
Ronald Reagan got out of his limo, wearing only a suit
with no overcoat. In the below-zero temperatures, he
kept his cool (no pun intended), and didn’t shiver or
do anything else to indicate that he was cold. He
looked like a super-human to those watching on
television, and made his Soviet counterparts, dressed
in heavy overcoats, scarves, and fur hats, look like
The collective thoughts of the Soviet people were,
“Who is this man?”
And then it was all downhill for them from there. As
Sun Tzu said in The Art of War, “Every battle is won
before it’s ever fought.” And Reagan had the Soviets
psychologically defeated even before the arms race
began that eventually brought them down.
What’s YOUR First Impression?
If Reagan brought down the world’s only other
superpower besides the United States, based on the
first impression he created on his initial visit, then
you KNOW that first impressions count.
Ask yourself this: What is YOUR first impression?
Are you showing up with power and authority as Reagan
did, causing people to ask themselves, “Who is this
Or are you supplicating and looking desperate and
hungry when you approach sales prospects?
I’ve got some news for you: If you want to look weak
and desperate, then there’s no better way in the world
to accomplish that than by cold calling.
Cold calling sub-communicates that you have nothing
else to do, no customers to service, no prospects
wanting to do business with you – in other words, that
It also makes you look greedy, and not in a good way.
Cold calling shows that you are out to GET a sale from
them, not to GIVE them value and honest service.
So if you want to convey the level of power and
authority that Ronald Reagan did in toppling the
Soviets, you need to stop cold calling. Immediately.
And if you don’t know how, don’t worry. The answers
are all in my Never Cold Call Again system. It’s
literally JAM-PACKED with five full modules,
containing all the ideas, strategies, techniques – and
then some – that you’ll ever need to stop cold
calling forever, and fill your inbox with hot,
qualified prospects who are ready, willing, and able
to buy right now.
Since you get to “try it before you buy it,” there’s
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To your success!
President Reagan’s first meeting with Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev at Fleur D’Eau during the Geneva Summit in Switzerland . 11/19/85.
Ronald Reagan in Private
A Memoir of My Years in the White House By Jim Kuhn
Throughout his presidency, Reagan had been making overtures to the Soviet leaders through personal letters, but as he said “they keep dying on me.” Gorbachev, the fourth Soviet leader in less than two-and-a-half years, had replaced President Konstantin Chernenko. Gorbachev, Reagan was told, was different than the previous generation of Soviet leaders. He was confident, impatient, media-savvy, vigorous. Thatcher had spoken highly of him to Reagan at Camp David.
Gorbachev appeared to recognize that the Soviet Union’s closed society was in serious trouble, and he might be more willing to consider opening up the Soviet Union to the rest of the world . But as upbeat as the First Lady was about the Geneva summit, the president was more cautious. He was willing to look Gorbachev in the eye to see if they could begin a dialogue. But he was suspicious of the Soviets and, after all, they still had the nuclear stalemate of Mutual Assured Destruction. While many on his staff, including me, were optimistic about the prospect of this historic encounter, Reagan kept his expectations low.
That morning, we traveled over to the U.S. meeting venue from our residence, La Maison de Saussure, an 18th Century chateau a few miles north of Geneva and the home of the Prince Aga Khan and Princess Salida and their young son. The boy had left a note for the president asking him to feed his goldfish in his second-floor bedroom. The president was faithfully following his instructions. At Chateau Fleur d’Eau, I was uneasy as Gorbachev’s motorcade got closer and closer and Reagan donned his blue cashmere coat and white scarf. So much rode on this first encounter. Why did the president need to wear a coat? He simply needed to step outside, walk maybe 25 feet to greet Gorbachev and then escort him up the stairs for the official photo. I was thinking fast. Thousands of the world’s press were covering this historic meeting, and it could be a major mistake to have the president all bundled up. What if Gorbachev got out of his car without a coat? Then the world would see a younger, more vigorous man greeting and old and feeble man, dressed as if he couldn’t be out in the cold for just a few minutes with Gorbachev. As the president was donning his coat, I spoke up.
“Mr. President, I’m not so sure you’re going to need your coat,” I said. “You’re only going to be outside for a couple of minutes. Plus, Mr. Gorbachev may not be wearing his coat.”
Schultz, who had heard me, looked at me as if I was crazy.
“Mr. President,” he said, “don’t worry about it. Gorbachev will have his coat on.”
I fired back. “I’m not so sure.” My experience as an advance man had kicked in. Perception was everything, especially at a historic moment like this. “We don’t know what Gorbachev is going to be wearing. These details haven’t been discussed.” Then McFarlane spoke up. “Jim,” he said, “don’t worry about it. He’ll have his coat on. It’s not a concern.”
I thought Regan might back me up. But he joined in: “Jim, it’s not going to be a problem.” The president finished buttoning his overcoat and adjusting his scarf around his neck. Five minutes to go. Schultz, Regan and McFarlane moved into their positions outside at the arrival. It was just the president and me.
I had this intense fear of the world perception of this first encounter if Reagan were seen as old and weak. It would be a bad start to the summit, a setback that would be very difficult to overcome. I took a deep breath and tried again. “Mr. President, I know you’ve got a lot on your mind, but I need to talk to you again,” I said. “We both heard what Schultz, McFarlane and Reagan said. But they don’t have any idea what’s going on with the coats. None of us focused on this until now, but it could become a major thing when you step outside for the first greeting.” Reagan dismissed my concern. “Well, don’t worry about it, Jim,” he said. “I’m fine, and we’re ready to go.”
Two minutes until Gorbachev’s arrival. We were just a few feet from the front door, ready to step outside. I kept seeing a vision of a heavily bundled-up Reagan greeting Gorbachev, who would appear in his business suit. I had to protect President Reagan. I tried yet again. “Mr. President, this is the last thing I’m going to say.”
The president, who rarely got angry, was getting irritated.
“What is it now?” he said. “It’s not the coat again, is it?”
“Yes, sir. But let me ask you one final question,” I said.
“What?” Now the president was definitely irritated. “Suppose I’m right about the coat,” I said. “And Mr. Gorbachev gets out of the car with just his business suit on, looking strong and ready to go. And you’re all covered up the way you are as if you can’t be outside for a few minutes without this heavy wrap on. If that’s the case, then who’s going to look stupid before the whole world? You or Gorbachev?” The president gave in. “All right, dammit, Jim,” he said. “Have it your way.” And he ripped off the scarf, pulled off his coat and tossed it into my arms.
“There, is that what you want?” he said.
“Yes, sir,” I said. ” Now, you’re ready to go.”
Almost immediately thereafter, we heard distant sirens of the Soviet motorcade. One minute later, the motorcade pulled up, and I opened the door for Reagan. He stepped outside to top of the stairs until Gorbachev’s limo crunched to a halt on the gravel drive. The windows of Gorbachev’s limo were dark, so we couldn’t see inside. Reagan then descended the stairs and approached the limo as the Soviet leader emerged.
Gorbachev wore a dark overcoat. A scarf was tightly wrapped around his neck.
As Gorbachev climbed out, he snatched his dark fedora off his head and held out his other hand to the president.
The two men greeted each other and then turned to climb the stairs. As they did, Reagan reached out and gently placed his hand on Gorbachev’s elbow. It was a warm and welcoming gesture, but it also looked like he was trying to assist the much younger Gorbachev.
At the top of the stairs, they stopped and turned for photographers. And that was the photo that ran on the front page of every newspaper and newsmagazine, and in every news telecast. Ronald Reagan, dressed in his finely tailored blue suit, towering over the stocky Gorbachev, who looked like something out of central casting-a stodgy Russian who has just arrived from snowy Moscow.
We had ended up rolling the Soviets big-time. Without intending to, we had hit them hard. We got off to a great start.
The Soviets were not at all pleased about it and talked about it far after the summit. “I felt like we lost the game during the first movement,” said Kremlin press official Sergei Tarasenko years later.
That day, the coat incident bothered the Soviets so much that as we broke for lunch at the end of the first session, to head back to our respective venues, Gorbachev’s last words to Reagan were “When we meet again, will it be coats on or coats off?” And at every point over the next three days, whenever there was an upcoming departure, Gorbachev invariably asked the president the same question. “The next time we meet, will it be coats on or coats off?”
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