What I Learned About Selling From…Movie Super Villains? | SalesAndMarketing.com
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What I Learned About Selling From…Movie Super Villains?

The bad guys have the art of increasing effectiveness down to a science.

By Russell Riendeau, Ph.D., founder, East Wing Group, Inc.


Who’s your favorite movie villain? Dr. Evil, Dr. No, Gordon Gekko, Hannibal Lecter, Darth Vader, The Joker, Dr. Octopus, The Terminator?  Google movie villains to see the big list and pick your favorites.


Every super villain you and I know has one redeeming quality: They are the model of efficiency in their respective specialty. They get the job done. And they can teach us a thing or two to increase our own effectiveness as sales and management professionals as we go about saving the world by providing valuable goods and services to a world under siege from villains of all kinds—real and imaginary.  


Super villains also have a number of additional commonalities at their disposal that we all envy and thrive to possess:

  • They never have to get up from their desk chair to destroy the world—one button, maybe two are within easy reach. Kaboom!—they’re done for the day.
  • Their desk is on the shop floor—they see and are seen all the time.
  • They never skimp on purchasing a high-end,  ergonomically correct, efficiently designed, really cool desk and chair. They get more done with more technology available to them and  they experience less neck strain as they can swivel 360 degrees to view their monitors and other evil workers doing their best to ruin the world. (Think about it: When have you ever seen a super villain having to visit a chiropractor?)
  • They’ve been paperless for 40 years.
  • They love to laugh.
  • If they work from a virtual office, they are connected to their headquarters and data at all times.  Rarely are they not able to access evil information.
  • They all subscribe to some kind of RSS feed on steroids to supply them 24/7 with data, pictures, video, and all-encompassing competitive intelligence on their adversaries.
  • They typically dress conservatively and are always neat.
  • They don’t use staplers or paperclips, nor do they have a trash can under their desk.
  • They use hands-free phones most of the time.
  • They have worker bees doing tactical stuff, allowing their evil, brilliant minds more strategic evil-thinking time.
  • They don’t use coasters.
  • They terminate employees who are not loyal, effective, or have outgrown their usefulness. Ouch.
  • They are tenacious, hard to slow down, and good negotiators under pressure.

As you read the list, I’d like you to consider for a moment how much more effective you could be in your own evil pursuit of capitalism in growing your sales numbers, leading your sales team on to record sales and bonuses. How much more time, energy, and fun would you have if you were more efficient in just a few areas—15 percent more, for example—that could create more contact with prospects, remain in contact with current customers, and streamline your day for more production with less stress? Big promises, you say. You bet!


Here’s a list, in no particular order, that you can implement to help you become immediately more efficient and effective in your daily activities in your workplace (desk, car, home office, cubicle, briefcase, PDA). It won’t cost you a penny, won’t require moving anything over 20 pounds, and is a task you can complete in 30 minutes, in most cases.

  • Define “A” customers. What does an ideal client look like? Size, scope, traits, location, revenue, level of contact, urgency, competitive advantage, etc. Now begin to target “A” companies before any other B or C ones. Write it down now.
  • Fill your pipeline with constant A and B deals.  Review and define  your revenue stream:  A—business and projects you’re currently working on that will be invoiced. B—business leads, proposals, personal meetings that are in negotiations that have substance and evidence the deal will happen. C—this could be a lead, a tip, rumor, hunch, that does not yet have substance of a “B” item.  Writing down all work and proposals in progress will let you visualize cash flow and activity for next quarter and will motivate you to start finding “A and B” targets.
  • Buy personalized notecards.  www.levenger.com has inexpensive and easy-to-order notecards and envelopes to keep in your desk, with stamps, to send out immediately after calls or visits. People like getting stuff in the mail with their name on it.
  • Keep all materials for client contacting (lists, phone numbers, labels, directories, etc.) within an arm’s reach of your work station. Research shows this is not the case most of the time.
  • Prospecting calls list: Have names/numbers on your desk to make the calls. Set the list out before you leave at night.
  • Fight the tendency to relax after a good month or quarter of revenue, only to have a down next period. Fill the pipeline during busy times with calls and proposals.
  • Consider budgeting X amount of $$ to pay a part-time telemarketer to make calls, set appointments, or mail materials on your company on a regular basis.
  • www.infousa.com  or a reputable business list broker is a cheap way to buy mailing lists and pre-made labels for direct mail. There’s no excuse for not sending good information to clients if you can get their name in 10 seconds.
  • Pick 25 viable clients and send something this week—a note, brochure, a case study, a new business best-selling book, an article you read or wrote on their world at work—make them feel like you were thinking of them and their problems.
  • Direct mail works: Address envelopes from business cards and leads in your downtime—before dinner, watching reality TV shows,  sitting in traffic, at your daughter’s soccer game, in your car, etc. Have lists and something to send with you at home and office for ease of sending. Buy a roll of stamps and keep it with you. Two send outs a day is more than 700 people who will have your name in a year. Yikes.
  • Competitive advantage: Can you truly define what you can do for the client right now that will get them to sign your contract? Write it down and believe it.
  • What do you have that you can’t wait to tell your customers about? If you don’t have something exciting….better find something right now.
  • Write or co-author an article related to your expertise that will resonate with your ideal customer. Tips like this bullet list is all you need: simple, to-the-point, and implementable ideas for the reader’s world at work.  Publish the article on www.ezinearticles.com for free and submit the article to your industry or company newsletter. Send this article to your clients.
  • Commit to learning more about how to use e-mail more effectively. Read tutorials, time-savers, database management, etc., to enhance your effectiveness.
  • Spend time on your competition's Website to learn the valuable information to sell against.
  • Review the great educational presentations for free on www.ted.com to learn valuable tips on how to communicate with emotion and interest in your daily discussions with clients and viable customers.

If you really want to emulate your favorite villain’s effectiveness, start today by acting on and checking off items on this list to become more effective in your job of sales and management. The tactics are so simple, most of your competitors are not practicing them.


Dr. Russ Riendeau is an executive search professional and founder of East Wing Group, Inc., and author of the recent book, "The CEO’s Guide To Talent Acquisition." He’s also a national speaker on the topic of human capital for business. For more information, visit www.eastwingsearchgroup.com.