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Lessons from “The Bachelor”

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Confession: I’ve watched every season of ABC’s “The Bachelor,” as well as its spin-off “The Bachelorette.”

I’ll pause for a moment so you can deride me as a voyeur and snicker at my poor taste in television shows.

Finished? Great. Because there’s a point to this.

Last night, the latest season of “The Bachelor” premiered, with Ben Flajnik looking for a wife among 25 female contestants. For the uninitiated, that means Flajnik will spend the next few weeks taking these women on elaborate dates — think helicopter rides in exotic locales, private concerts and cliff-diving trips that usually end with someone having a terrified freak out. At the end of each episode, Flajnik will narrow down the pack at a cocktail party (open bar, of course) by distributing roses to the women he’d like to stay. The last woman standing gets the final rose and, usually, an engagement ring.

Because the women have a limited amount of time to catch Flajnik’s attention, they often — okay, always — resort to ridiculous gimmicks, especially in the first episode, where the bachelor has to eliminate seven of the women just hours after meeting them.

Last night, one contestant blindfolded Flajnik, finger-fed him pieces of candy out of a wrinkled paper sack and made him guess what kind each was. Another — a law student — told Flajnik he was “guilty of being sexy.” One rode in on a horse. And someone else brought her septuagenarian grandmother to demonstrate how into “family” she was — never mind that granny mostly looked annoyed and asked to leave halfway through.

All of the women claimed, loudly, that they were in love with Flajnik just minutes after meeting him for the first time.

In between all my guffaws, eye rolls and oh brothers, I started to think about what a great “what not to do” guide this show is — and not just for dating. Salespeople, producers especially, are confronted daily with the same challenges as contestants on “The Bachelor.” You have a limited amount of time to make a good impression with a prospect, and you definitely have any number of false promises and attention-grabbing gimmicks to choose from.

What “The Bachelor” proves, though, is that, while gimmicks might make for good guilty-pleasure television, they do not a relationship make. Ben kept granny lady, horse girl and cheesy lawyer last night. (Candy feeder, however, got the boot. Apparently even “The Bachelor” has to draw the line somewhere.) He might even propose to one of them. But will they actually get married? The show’s track record — only two out of 22 couples from the “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” have wed — says the odds are against them.

If you want to make quick one-off sales, grab your best horse, your grandma and a creepy bag of candy and get going. If you want to build a practice where clients stick around for years and refer you to everyone they know, be prepared for the less exciting, but more lucrative, work that goes into building trust and long-term relationships.

Corey Dahl is life channel and social media editor for LifeHealthPro.com and managing editor of Life Insurance Selling.