Mad Men & Sterling Cooper Better Get Some New Biz

October 11, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, entrepreneurship, Marketing, sales, Sales Training, small business, Sterling Cooper | Leave a comment

Sterling Cooper is in a tough bind. Their largest client just dumped them for a new agency and prospects are scared to engage them for fear that they’re going to close their doors and leave them in the lurch.

Whether you’re a Mad Men devotee or have yet to catch an episode, the last few shows have been especially relevant, and perhaps even more so in these (still) horribly difficult economic times.

Winning new business? Ouch. It’s a long and difficult task fraught with pitfalls and perils even if there is no word on the street that you just might go under.

So what lessons can we learn from Don Draper and the gang at Mad Men:

* Don’t be caught with all of your eggs in one basket.
A cliche for sure but when a significant percentage of your revenue is tied up in just one client you can get into deep trouble if they decide to pull some, or horrors, all of their business. Make certain that you keep current on how much of your business belongs to just one company. Sometimes the number creeps up and before you know it almost everything you earn is controlled by just one key player.

* Don’t ever take your clients for granted.
Now I know that seems a bit self-evident but clients are a very sensitive lot. They want to feel important and recognized and sometimes after years of “owning” a piece of business, the day-to-day conversations and attention to detail start to slip. Even if the slip is small, clients may start to get nervous or unhappy or both, and that’s when they may start to shop the competition. (Remember that Roger seemed to take Lucky Strike for granted. After all, they had the account for so many years!)

* Don’t specialize to the point where a shake-up in the industry itself can cause your demise.
Was all of your business in dot.coms? Mmmm, chances are you felt it when the bubble burst. How about real estate? Feeling the pinch now, are you? Cigarettes? Hah, we know what happened to the folks that “only” did cigarette advertising. It’s pretty simple. Make sure you have a mix of clients even if, yes, your focus is predominantly in one specific industry.

* Be ready if you have to go to the bank.
Sometimes things get really hairy (high-level economic term) and you may need an influx of cash to keep yourself afloat. The folks at Sterling Cooper have asked the partners to pitch in with some cash to help them keep afloat for at least 6 months. While it is particularly difficult getting financing these days you should always have some sort of back-up plan as to how you can keep your doors open if you fall on hard times. Where will you get the funding and how long will it last? I know solopreneurs that have tapped into their savings or retirement plans. Some took a cash advance from their credit cards. I don’t know the right answer or even the best way but I do know that you NEVER KNOW when the ax will fall. Being prepared can help.

So lets say thank you to Don Draper and friends for making us think about our clients, how our business is segmented and what we need to do to keep our existing clients happy and earn new ones on a regular basis.

At this juncture on Mad Men they’d all be pouring a drink. Cheers.


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