In an interview recently I was asked what book, beside my own, I would recommend that salespeople read.  It was an interesting question and in fact for years when teaching selling at Wharton graduate school I had recommended not a book but a play, Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller.  While there are multiple deep relationship messages in the play the business message is clear: change or be doomed to failure.

If you have followed Don Draper, the creative advertising director and pitch man extraordinaire star of Mad Men through his 7 seasons you likely have no delusions of happy ever after for Don but at least know there is hope for him.  In the final episode Don, a brilliant but tortured soul, journeys to California and through chance finds himself at a hippie commune where he finally experiences peace.

Unlike Arthur Miller’s Willy Loman, Don survives because he is able to take what he learns at the commune back with him to NYC where he uses it to create the iconic Coke commercial of peace and love  “I’d like to buy the world a coke…”

As an aside, the Coke commercial, which ranks among the most successful ever created, was written by Bill Backer of McCann Erickson, the same firm the fictional Don Draper works for.

There are so few stories about sales or marketing that I have found meaningful for our field.  I don’t think Mad Men, written by Matthew Weiner and produced by David Chase, as one of them should fade to black without being recognized.  Toward the end of the final episode a leader of the meditative group, where Don seems to find the bliss the he translates into his commercial, says, “The new day brings new hope.”  So does change.