Selling Like a Boss: 3 Tips to Take Away from Boardwalk Empire

Thanks to some end-of-year craziness—holidays and strict deadlines—many of my recreational hobbies suffered. Watching TV was a big casualty. And if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s seeing my DVR gradually reach maximum capacity.

As a result, I’ve been playing major catch-up when time permits. In fact, I JUST finished watching Season 3 of “Boardwalk Empire” on Sunday. From an entertainment standpoint, I enjoy the show’s complex characters and unexpected plot twists. But I finally began to realize there are other lessons to be learned. For instance, many sales and marketing tips can be gleaned from Boardwalk Empire.

Since I’m an editor by trade, I won’t pretend to be an expert on the art of selling. So, here are three basic tips to contemplate. Enjoy!

1. Sell Certainty
Nucky Thompson, the former treasurer of Atlantic City, meets with Andrew Mellon, the treasury secretary of the United States. Business growth and marketing specialist Kevin Oefelein points out multiple mistakes made by Thompson. First, his “sales pitch” uncharacteristically lacks confidence. Customers want assurance. If you don’t believe in your proposition, why should they? Next, after Thompson concludes his “sales pitch” to Mellon, there is a pause. Thompson asks Mellon if his silence indicates a “yes.” When the silence continues, Thompson follows up with a “Maybe?” Remember the old adage from Sales 101: He who speaks first loses?

2. Outsmart the Competition
Your competition is busy formulating its plan of attack in order to gain significant market share. How do you gain the upper hand? Never get too comfortable—even if you’re ahead. In Season 3 of Boardwalk Empire, the tensions between Nucky Thompson and Gyp Rosetti culminate into an action-packed finale. When the seemingly untouchable Thompson is forced into hiding thanks to Rosetti’s unpredictable “shoot-to-kill” philosophy, he never stops planning. He aligns himself with the right people (enter Chalky White and Al Capone) and prepares for the unexpected. That is, he is always on-guard even while making crafty deals with politicians and other “frenemies.” Meanwhile, after experiencing moderate victories, the members of Team Rosetti get too comfortable at their new Atlantic City headquarters. Instead of doing research, they are giving in to vices. In the episode, Rosetti declares, “Somebody’s always gotta lose.” Don’t let it be you.

Elise Hacking Carr is executive editor/content director for Print+Promo magazine.

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