As Breaking Bad enters the home stretch, it’s left me in a reflective mood. One of the things I’ve been reflecting on is what the series can teach us about sales.
Oh, don’t even start with me. I’m not saying meth is good. And I’ll be the first to admit that Walter can get a little carried away. But if you think about it, about 90% of all the horrible things that happen on Breaking Bad are sales problems. After all, the product kills the competition (and some of the customers, but…). And they’ve got manufacturing down to a science. It’s those pesky buyers who keep gumming up the works. They keep trying to dictate terms. They don’t want to pay their bills. They complain about delivery. They think they can do it themselves. It’s just one darn thing after another.
Along the way, Walt and Jesse have learned some important sales lessons, but let’s face it — as salespeople, they’re not very good.
As often happens in real life, however, someone unexpected has emerged as a sales natural.
I’m talking, of course, about Todd Alquist.
The sweet-faced, soft-spoken child murderer turns out to have a real way with customers. In a recent episode, his buyer Lydia complains that the meth he’s just cooked doesn’t have the trademark blue color that her customers have come to expect. Todd’s boss clumsily tries to counter her objection. No, it is blue, he insists. A little bit. If you look at in the right light. And if it needs to be bluer, well they can fix it up in a jiff with some food coloring.
Lydia’s not buying any of it. You can see her losing confidence in her vendor.
A little later, though, Todd takes her aside. He doesn’t try to placate her. He tells her the truth. He didn’t get the cook just right. But he’s working hard to make it better. And he asks for her trust. By the end of the conversation, Lydia’s faith is restored. She’s counting on Todd, she says.
Todd is the ultimate sales pro — cool under pressure, yet always thinking of how the other person feels. In an earlier episode, he considerately blindfolds Lydia so she won’t have to witness the carnage that she ordered and he helped carry out. (Talk about customer service!) And in the latest episode (I won’t cite the details in case you haven’t watched), he tells one character “I’m sorry for your loss” after helping gun down a loved one. It’s a small, graceful gesture in an otherwise awkward moment, and hey, you never know who might be buying from you down the road.
I’m going to miss Todd. But I think he’s got a bright future in sales.
Photo Credit: AMC
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