AMC’s Better Call Saul is currently one of my favorite shows. It’s the Breaking Bad spinoff that everyone expected to be a goofy comedy that lasted 1 season. Nobody expected it to be a relevant drama that, in many cases, challenged Breaking Bad as the better of the two. The series serves as a prequel to Breaking Bad that revolves around the transformation from ambitious yet troubled Jimmy McGill to brilliantly deceiving defense lawyer Saul Goodman.
I really don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll keep it basic. Jimmy McGill is a struggling new lawyer who is barely making ends meet working as a public defender. Wanting more for his life, Jimmy seeks to go out on his own. The rest of the series chronicles Jimmy’s struggles to build a brand for himself, take care of his sick older brother, start a company, get customers, and adequately sustain himself.
Although Jimmy is a layer by trade, he is characterized as being an entertainer who is a natural salesperson. His quick thinking, charm, wit, and intelligence all work together to give him the ability to sell anything to anyone. He often uses this “sales persona” during the series, especially when he is trying to make a name for himself. Usually, whether he’s selling an argument in court or pitching his law specialty to potential clients, he was usually successful.
Here are some of the best sales lessons that I’ve picked up from Slippin’ Jimmy.
Be an Entertainer
The first thing that you’ll notice about Jimmy is that he is one of the most enthusiastic and animated people in the show. He likes to be flashy and incorporate a high level of energy in all of his interactions. This is a stark contrast to other lawyers in the show, who appear stoic and “boring”. While his enthusiasm is unorthodox, he wins over his audience because he knows the value in keeping them entertained. He is the performer, and his audience is the judge/jury. Before each one of his public defender cases, he looks in the mirror, smiles, and exclaims “It’s showtime folks!”
Working in sales, you are the entertainer and your audience is your prospects and customers. In a previous article, we stressed the importance of the 3 E’s in sales (energy, excitement, and enthusiasm). Essentially, the more excited and the more enthusiastic you are, the more receptive your prospects will be to hearing your pitch.
Throughout the show, Jimmy uses humor to help him cope with uncomfortable or high-pressure situations. His quick wit and his goofy comments help disarm whoever he is talking to. At the end of the day, his humor makes himself more likable than his colleagues (especially his brother). In sales, use humor to your advantage. Your sales pitch should not be one giant joke, but it never hurts to make the prospect or customer laugh. Sprinkling in some jokes and goofy comments is a great way to break down that barrier that the prospect puts up.
Know your Audience
It doesn’t matter if Jimmy is talking to a senior law partner, his own customers, or his ever-growing connection of underground criminals. He always custom tailors his mannerisms and his style of talking to whoever he is talking to. This becomes evident when he is pitching his services to the elderly to help them out with their wills and final wishes. The way he pitches is calm, respectful, and enthusiastically friendly. This is in stark contrast to his style in the courtrooms, especially in the most recent scene with his brother, where he is serious, forceful, and intense. In both cases, he is able to win the other side over to his way of thinking.
In sales, you have to know your audience and pitch to them individually. There really is no one-size-fits-all sales pitch. While the scripting can be similar, the way you deliver the pitch will be different based on whoever is sitting in front of you. Some prospects require more TLC, while others want you to get to the point. Knowing your audience and playing to that audience is important to maximize your sales opportunities.
Work Harder than the Rest
Jimmy outworks his peers and his competition. He spends his free time researching, building his brand, and working on his cases. For Jimmy, his job does not start at 9 and end at 5. He dives deep and focuses the entirety of his efforts on success. When he first started, he lived in a rented out broom closet. This is where he got his start on his own as well – while it was his home, it was also his first solo office. His personal life was his professional life. His work ethic was so great that he once spent spend the night in a industrial garbage bin so he could collect incriminating shredded documents. Bottom line: he worked harder than most lawyers, so he was able to learn more, grow faster, and become much more experienced in a shorter amount of time.
I’m not saying that you should live and breath work. Having time off to recharge on the weekends and taking periodic vacations are important and necessary if you want long term sustained success. The point is that while you might work 9-5, those who go above and beyond are more successful. It’s a basic fact that those who stay late, work weekends, work holidays, read sales books, go to conferences, read blogs, and practice in their free time are usually the most successful ones.
Don’t Give Up
Jimmy experiences more pitfalls ans failures than anyone else on the show. Having nearly ruined his life as a young adult, he earned the nickname “Slippin’ Jimmy” for his great aptitude for scamming people out of money. All this caught up with him, and he ended up with a very serious criminal charge. Fast forward to today: he is constantly being railroaded by his peers, he struggles to find a purpose in life, and often self-destructs while falling back to previous scamming habits. At no point during any of this did Jimmy ever give up. He kept on pushing and working until he finds his own level of success.
In sales, you’ll fail at least once. You’ll blow a big sale, miss your quota, make a mistake, miss your quotas again, etc. It happens to everyone. Success comes to those who don’t give up when the going gets tough. Success comes to those who learn from their mistakes and push on.
While we all know the fate of Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman, we can all agree that his skills in persuasion, his hustle, and his work ethic put him a step above the rest.
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