5 Sales Tips from “The Office” that Are Actually Pretty Genius (with GIFs)

Calling all sales managers and salespeople looking for sales tips: The Office isn’t complete buffoonery after all!

That’s right. The 100+ hours I’ve spent watching The Office weren’t for nothing. In fact, I could probably write 20 articles about this show. It’s that good. From sales tips to management advice to motivational ideasThe Office is full of gems.

But for today, I’ll just be focusing on the sales and sales management side of The Office. Check it out.

5 Sales Tips from “The Office”

Want the best-of-the-best sales tips? Look no further than Michael Scott, Jim Halpert, and Dwight Schrute.

Tip #1: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Watch nearly any episode of The Office and you’ll quickly discover that teamwork is a critical component of the culture at the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.

And while salespeople are often very isolated, this is not the case at Dunder Mifflin.

The primary sales reps on The Office are Jim Halpert, Dwight Schrute, Stanley Hudson, and Phyllis Lapin. In later episodes, the infamous intern Ryan Howard plays in the sales sandbox along with Andy Bernard.

But things really get shaken up when Clark Green, aka Dwight Junior, enters the scene. One of my personal favorite episodes is called “Suit Warehouse” from season nine. In the episode, Dwight receives an instant message that a father and son suit business recently lost their paper provider.

Dwight reflects on all the good times that he and Jim had as a salesman tag-team that pretended to be brothers. Since Jim isn’t around to help him close the sale, Dwight decides to take Clark, junior salesman, instead. Of course, this is a sitcom, so Dwight poses Clark as his “fake” son in order to appeal to the father-son business they’re selling to. And of course they end up buying ridiculously expensive suits in an effort to make the deal. But they do close the sale in the end!

Source: via GIPHY

Moral of the story: teamwork does work! And while I wouldn’t recommend pretending to be someone you’re not, I will recommend working with a buddy. Partnering up with another sales colleague every now and again is great for morale, it brings people closer, and it just might be the edge needed to get that deal closed.

Tip #2: Attitude is Everything

Viewers of The Office see lots of ups and downs during the course of the show. From good to bad to terrible, and everything in between—there’s no telling what’s going to happen next.

But one thing we learn early on is that when the morale and culture are down, everything is off.

There are multiple instances where downsizing and office closure threats kill productivity. And lots of times when Michael Scott, the fearless leader and branch manager, causes problems as a result of his own emotions.

Specifically, when Michael experiences relationship break-ups, he is known for shutting down for days. And everyone suffers as a result.

Source: via GIPHY

Moral of the story: it’s up to managers to lead by example. And it’s up to the rest of the team to hold managers, and each other, accountable. Keep your team together and thinking positive, and you’ll keep the machine running smoothly.

Tip #3: If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail

Failure to plan and to execute said plan is a big theme on the show.

Michael often appears unprepared for meetings (or worse, has absolutely no clue what’s going on). He’s also known to throw important papers in the garbage (i.e. the “special” filing cabinet). But perhaps worst of all: he’s constantly speaking before he’s got all the facts.

Source: via GIPHY

Moral of the story: being prepared and on top of your tasks and opportunities is critical. While a miss here or there is normal, failing to plan completely just isn’t acceptable. Use a time block to track your activities and a prospecting action plan and your Sales PlayBook to stay on top of processes.

Tip #4: Never Discount

Discounting in sales is tacky and unnecessary. Not only does it make your product or service seem sketchy, but it also makes you seem sketchy. I mean, where’s the value if the price can change on a dime?

One of the best examples of a failed discounting attempt comes when Michael Scott leaves Dunder Mifflin to create his own paper company called the Michael Scott Paper Company.

Michael poaches Pam Beasley and Ryan from Dunder Mifflin, but they struggle to get clients. In an attempt to beat Dunder Mifflin, they offer ridiculous discounts. Sure, the discounts work—they steal a bunch of clients from Dunder Mifflin. But they also undersell themselves in the process and create an unsustainable infrastructure for the business. In the end, they all end up returning back to Dunder Mifflin.

Source: via GIPHY

Moral of the story: don’t discount just to close a deal! Price your product or service appropriately then stick with it. Sell the value. Be honest. Stand behind what you’re selling.

Tip #5: Incentivize Your Team

While many of the other sales tips applied to salespeople, this one is just for you, sales manager.

Incentives are important in sales. Salespeople are typically goal-driven go-getters and appreciate a dangling carrot.

In season eight, Andy is branch manager. And he struggles. A lot. He pretty much has no idea how to manage or motivate his staff. That’s when Robert California, the new CEO, challenges him to be a leader.

So, Andy picks up a book on management techniques and decides to try out an incentives program with “points.” He tells his staff they can exchange the points for “swag,” but they aren’t having it. So the staff gets together. They decide that instead of swag they want a different incentive: for Andy to get a butt tattoo.

Andy agrees… and the entire office becomes a moving and shaking machine. In only one day, they hit their quota for the entire month.

Source: via GIPHY

Moral of the story: incentives work! But it’s all about motivating your team in the right way. Unfortunately, you only have one butt. So you’re limited to how many tattoos will motivate your team. But you know what does work? Management by objective! Check out this free workbook on MBOs.

What do you think about these sales tips from The Office? Got any other favorites from the show? Share them in the comments, I’d love to hear more!
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By | 2017-04-27T16:33:51+00:00 May 4th, 2017|Sales Leaders, Sales Success|2 Comments

About the Author:

Rebecca Smith is the Marketing Manager at Criteria for Success. She writes about sales, sales leadership, social selling best practices, time management, and anything related to helping others discover success. Be sure to say hi on Twitter!

2 Comments

  1. Mike T. May 18, 2017 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    What a fantastic article! The Office is full of insight, and we all have a lot to learn from one of the greatest managers of all time besides Charles, Mr. Michael Scott.

    • Rebecca Smith May 24, 2017 at 9:25 am - Reply

      Thank you kindly 🙂

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