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What Makes a Sales Pitch, As Told by Mad Men’s Don Draper

August 6, 2014 / Blog

mad men, pitch deck tips, pop culture, sales pitch

A sales pitch is never easy. It’s not just about throwing random information and hoping it’ll stick with your audience. Your job is to convince customers and clients that yours is the best solution to their problem. If you don’t have the right ingredients, you’re sure to lose their attention. Blog Module One

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In order to seal the deal, your sales pitch needs to be creative, informative and visual. Your delivery also needs to be convincing, with equal parts charming and persuasive. Who better to learn from than Don Draper, TV’s most enigmatic ad man?

We reviewed past episodes of ‘Mad Men’ and identified some of Don Draper’s best pitches. Take a closer look to learn what your sales pitch is missing:

Appeal to emotions and be creative

Perhaps the most memorable of Don Draper’s pitches is the ad campaign for Kodak’s “wheel” projector. While others pushed for a campaign with a more futuristic tilt, Don decides to pander to emotions and nostalgia instead. He proposes that the projector is not a “spaceship” but a “time machine”, taking consumers back to their favorite memories. To prove his point, he uses the projector to show the Kodak execs pictures of his own family.

sales pitch mad men - kodak carousel
Don shows the room pictures of his family using the client’s new projector. Watch how his sales pitch plays out here.

People love a good story, especially one that tugs at the heartstrings. While data and statistics are important to a sales pitch, don’t forget to add an element of humanity. We all love seeing stories that we can relate to. Don dubs the new projector as the “Carousel”, making a then-technologically advanced product closer to home. Similarly, you should frame your sales pitch in a way that’s both creative and relatable.

In another example from the show’s fifth season, Don is struggling to come up with a campaign for Heinz Beans. How can something so ordinary be turned into an innovative ad campaign? Don’s wife Megan comes up with the slogan, “Some things never change.” With that idea, Don informs the firm to create a campaign that is anchored on human emotion.

It doesn’t matter what you’re trying to sell. The best way to ensure your sales pitch succeeds is by giving your prospects something they can both relate to and enjoy.

Listen to your audience and be proactive

In the first episode of the series, we see Don struggling to come up with an idea to present to the execs of Lucky Strike. During the meeting, the ad team offers up suggestions but the clients remain dissatisfied. Don saves the meeting and proceeds to give a remarkable sales pitch because he was proactive.

sales pitch mad men - lucky strike
Don comes up with the slogan, “It’s Toasted”. Watch the entire scene here.

Instead of being defeated by the negative feedback, Don uses it to gain leverage for his pitch. He reaches out to the execs and uses what he learned to come up with a slogan. During your own sales pitch, be mindful about preventing the conversation from becoming one sided. Listen to the feedback your prospects are giving you and allow a dialogue to take place.

A similar instance happens in episodes 6 of the first season. The cosmetics company Belle Jolie seeks the help of Sterling and Cooper to come up with an ad campaign for their lipsticks. Don makes his pitch and is immediately turned down. The slogan, “Mark Your Man,” doesn’t exactly capture what the client originally wanted. Instead of scrapping his idea, Don is confident that his vision is perfect for Belle Jolie.

sales pitch mad men - belle jolie lipstick
Don and the ad team pitch their campaign to the clients. Watch the clip here.

He acknowledges the client’s feedback and proceeds to explain why his slogan perfectly encapsulates what they’re aiming for. Taking feedback is an opportunity to understand exactly what your prospects need. Use it to address the age-old question, “How can you help me?”

You don’t have to be Don Draper to pull off a winning sales pitch. Following these simple steps will bring you closer to your audience. Reel people in with emotional appeal before bringing out the facts, and don’t forget to listen to their feedback so they feel your sincerity.

Every presentation pitch needs a pitch deck to match. Contact our experts today to transform your slides into an engaging visual aid. Blog Module Two

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Featured Image: AMC
Screencaps via YouTube