I start with an admission: I am passionately, unapologetically in love with AMC’s workplace drama Mad Men. The period setting, the costumes, the gorgeous cast: I love it all. And while much has been written about both the egregious antics of the Sterling Cooper crew and the dazzling ad campaigns, I also love how this show, week after week, incorporates timeless principles for effective selling—principles that demonstrate that you don’t need the good looks of Don Draper, or the charisma and power of Roger Sterling, to be a great seller. Here are a few examples.
The principle: Clients buy from people they like. Your pitch is secondary.
The evidence: At a party, Don Draper escapes into the hotel bar, where he meets a gentleman who is similarly escaping a wedding. The two have drinks and chat—but not about business. The gentleman, whom we (and Don) later learn to be Conrad Hilton, tracks Don down and offers him the deal of a lifetime: an ad campaign with Hilton Hotels—no formal pitch, no long negotiation, no competitive bidding. Hilton likes Don, and bases his decision solely on this fact. This deal (like others) practically falls into Don’s lap—not because he is a brilliant pitchman but because people like him. And it never hurts to have a multi-million deal fall into your lap.