6 Must-Watch TV Shows for Salespeople

November 7, 2019

The binge-watch: a new activity for the new age of streaming entertainment. 

With Netflix and on-demand cable enabling us to power through an entire season (or series) of a TV show in rapid-fire fashion, binge-watching is a common way to spend a low-key afternoon or evening — especially as the weather gets colder and the days get shorter.

Spending hours rattling off episodes can sometimes feel like an unproductive use of time (and we know how sales pros tend to feel about that), but there’s nothing wrong with a little rest and relaxation. Plus, many shows offer valuable insights and lessons that can help us grow personally and professionally.

6 Essential TV Shows for Salespeople

These TV shows for salespeople don’t necessarily have overt ties to selling, but they all encompass themes and principles that are essential to the modern art of sales. If you’re eager to settle in for some TV binging in the coming months, consider adding these popular series to your queue.

Mad Men

Wait, isn’t Don Draper an ad guy? Shouldn’t this show be recommended to marketers? The answers are yes and yes, but Draper is also a salesman at his core. My favorite scenes are those where he uses his confident, creative, emotionally-charged techniques for selling clients or business partners on bold new ideas. 

The pitch below is a perfect depiction. While the drama is obviously played up, there’s something deeply impactful about the way Draper (played by Jon Hamm, in one of the most well-cast roles in television history) intertwines storytelling and empathy to make a product transcend its functional utility.

“Good luck at your next meeting.”

Shark Tank

Another show about pitching, although this one is a little more representative of real-world scenarios. For the unfamiliar, Shark Tank is a reality TV show that invites entrepreneurs to present their business ideas to a panel of “sharks” (self-made tycoons) in hopes of convincing one or more to invest.

As contestants make enthusiastic cases for their own inventions and innovations in a highly competitive setting, there are takeaways to be gleaned from the way they articulate the pain-solution frameworks. And the dynamic of pitching in front of several different sharks, all with their own backgrounds and inclinations, has parallels to tailoring sales messaging for B2B buying committees.

Check out these winning pitches:

Billions

Following the cat-and-mouse game between hedge-fund rockstar Bobby Axelrod and U.S. attorney Chuck Rhoades, Billions is more of a (semi-cynical) portrayal of ruthless business machinations and underhanded power plays than straight-up sales. But here too there is fodder for B2B sellers, especially in the character of Axelrod (aka “Axe”), whose keen sensibilities and intellect keep him a step ahead in the cutthroat world of Wall Street trading. 

“It’s like when salespeople are cold-calling; they try to get the customer to say ‘yes.’ The way I see it is … never give them a reason to say ‘no’ – because if you take ‘no’ out of the vocabulary, ‘yes’ is the only word left!” — Bobby Axelrod

You can read about four other sales lessons from Bobby Axelrod, courtesy of Sean McPheat at MyCustomer. 

The Office

Amid the ridiculous antics and hilarity that take place on every episode of The Office, there is much to be learned from the inhabitants of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. Most of it, like Michael Scott’s management style and Dwight Schrute’s aggressive salesmanship, falls into the “what not to do” category. 

The Profit

In this CNBC docu-reality series, Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis seeks out struggling companies and steps in with (sometimes radical) strategic adjustments to help turn them around. His philosophy focuses on the three P’s: People, Processes, Profit. When it comes to diagnosing and solving business problems, often in unconventional ways, The Profit consistently delivers food for thought.

Seinfeld

Relationships, using humor to lighten the air, understanding personal quirks, yadda yadda yadda… I’m sure there are many legitimate lessons in sales to be drawn from Seinfeld, but mainly we’re listing it as a way to reference one of our favorite posts here on the blog, What George Costanza Can Teach You About Selling, and also to include this clip of George’s ill-fated stint as a computer salesman:

Channel New Inspiration in Your Sales Career

From Don Draper to Michael Scott to George Costanza, fictional TV characters (not to mention actual on-screen business icons like Marcus Lemonis and the Shark Tank panelists) can educate while they entertain. Even if the lessons are more broad and philosophical than directly applicable (or, in most cases, crash courses in practices to avoid), there’s still value for salespeople in watching these TV shows beyond the expected laughs, gasps, and groans. It’s a great way to binge with a purpose.

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