Mad Men Ain’t Selling . . . it’s Telling

Spend an hour watching Mad Men and you will definitely be entertained! AMC does a great job capturing what it was like to live and work in the ’60s (so they tell me). The ‘60s was an interesting decade. People smoked in the office, drank in the office, pregnant women smoked and drank, and innuendo was bantered about freely. The double standard was so humongous and obvious it is sometimes uncomfortable to watch. But, that was 50 years ago; a lot has changed.

AMC tells a great story. They tell us how it was; keyword: “was”.  We’ve made a lot of progress in the last 50 years, both in life and in business. We’d be appalled to see some of the things that happen on Mad Men take place in our offices. It’d be an H.R. nightmare. 

Mad Men is set, initially, at a Madison Avenue Advertising Agency, which eventually moves to Sixth Avenue. If you watch, you will see that it’s not just the smoking and drinking and innuendo that has changed. Selling has changed… Or has it?

Leading character Don Draper (Jon Hamm) does a great job of telling his prospects and clients why they should buy from Sterling-Cooper. It is hysterical! He tells people what their problems are. He convinces major brands why they need his agency. He all but “calls their baby ugly” in the “pitch” meetings. Did I mention that was 50 years ago?

Professional selling has done a complete 180º in the last 50 years – at least for some of us. What worked in 1961 does not work today. Hell, what worked in 2001 does not work today. So why is it that some salespeople still do Mad Men selling? Two words: It’s easy – and most salespeople will take the easy way out.

It’s easy to tell people what you do. It’s simple to “extol the virtues” of your product or service. It’s a piece of cake to study your product and dump it all over a prospect. Easy! But that doesn’t make it right. In the ‘60s, it was all about you. There were fewer options. In 2014, it’s all about them. You have to make it about them. It takes a discipline. It takes a skill.

Some of you have the patience and discipline to sell professionally. Some of you get it; the need to ask tough questions, uncover budgets, targets and spending patterns. The need to see yourselves as worthy in front of important decision makers. The need to empathize with them, think things through, get to reality quickly, and set expectations. This is professional selling.

Some of you don’t get it. Some salespeople are still “getting their needs met” in sales by proving how smart they are. Some salespeople still do quotes and proposals to prospects that are in no way qualified. Some don’t have the discipline and patience to sell professionally. It’s unfortunate.

Spend time with these salespeople and you find that they don’t have 25 years of experience selling. They have one year of experience – 25 times. That’s maddening!



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Dave Tear

Dave is passionate about selling & helping others understand the sales process. Whether a client company has a 5 person sales team or a 300 person National sales force, Dave can Coach & Train them to be the best in their industry.
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