Mad Men and What a Salesman Can Learn About Himself

"The Mad Men"

The Mad Men

I watched my first episodes of Mad Men tonight.  (Yes, I know…it has been around a while.  I’m anti-trendy.)  I have to say that I don’t understand the hype and the accolades.  I am disappointed.

What do they say about the old Platte River…it is a mile wide and an inch deep?  That sums up Mad Men rather nicely.  The characters are caricatures.  Stereotyped stock players.  Disappointingly boring.  Of course I saw just the first episodes of the first season so I suppose things get better, but there wasn’t anything in this show that made me care about the people or their lives.  It was one rolling cliché after predictable cliché.  The writing isn’t the worst that I have seen, but it surely isn’t the best.

Anyway, that’s one DVD that’s on the fast track back to Netflix.

It did get me to think about sales, however.  These stereotypes are bad for business.  It should be no surprise that people roll their eyes when a sharp salesman comes into the office.  They expect us to insult the secretary and go for the booze! 

Sales isn’t like that…I wonder if it ever was.  We are, for the most part, professionals and bring a lot of value to our clients.  And here is my little nugget for the day:

I think a problem happens in sales when the professional and personal start to mix.  Too often we hammer on the idea that people need to like you to buy from you.  We have all this faux psychology about human comfort and security that sales people are reminded to be aware of.  I think that’s getting out of bounds. 

People will like you if you bring good service and value to them.  Just because you’re a good guy doesn’t mean you will bring good value, but we get hung up on being the good guy.  People see through that.  They wonder why a stranger is being so outwardly friendly.  Glad handing and back slapping have its place, but that is not what you are selling.  If you do too much of that people might think you’re a mad man…or a mile wide and an inch deep…or maybe all hat and no cattle. 

Get down to business.  Give people a reason to trust you and the rest follows on more legitimate terms than being able to tell a good joke.

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