The words “Air Jordan” are legendary today. They defined the greatest NBA player, an entire sports company, and most impressive, a lifestyle brand that spanned across generations. But if you’re Nike in 1984, you had to make the sale of your life.

While Michael Jordan was always bound for greatness, his iconic brand, Nike’s Air Jordan, was not so guaranteed. In fact, the story about striking this unprecedented deal is wonderfully depicted in the new movie Air (2023). But fear not, no spoilers here. It’s OK to read on.

Sale of your Life Matt Damon Air

I’ve long believed that everything you ever need to know about sales can be found in the movies (see a few references below). Air is another great example, for practices and approaches for landing “the sale of your life.” Now, let me state upfront: it’s cliché to say every deal is critical. Some deals must be walked away from. But if every deal were approached as “the sale of your life,” think of the successes that would follow. Here are some time-tested and bold sales moves (and movies!) that can move mountains.

  1. Study The Deal Landscape. Surround the sale. Communicate with as many involved decision-making related players involved to get the best, sharpest picture of the deal. (Movie ref: Draft Day, 2014)
  2. Go To The Source of The Deal. Lots of deals have gatekeepers. Often it’s stated overtly or implied, to not go around them to get to the final decision maker. That’s why the decision maker hired them. And they’re right. But no one cares more about the success of a deal than the final decision maker. Never forget that. (Movie ref: In Good Company, 2004)
  3. Know Your Competition. When you know your competition’s tendencies, history of other deals and maneuvers, latest product offerings, it empowers you to play a step or two ahead. (Movie ref: Rounders, 1998)
  4. Get The Meeting / Deal With The Fallout: Rarely do major deals happen without the major meeting. Sometimes, toes must be stepped on, egos side stepped in order to make this happen. Without losing site of your moral compass, make it happen. (Movie ref: Working Girl, 1988)
  5. Break Rules: “We NEVER do that!” “Are they kidding?!” “Are you crazy?!” If these management sentiments sound familiar, you’re likely a risk taker. (Movie ref: Top Gun: Maverick, 2022)
  6. Be Prepared to “Ditch The Pitch”. Nothing changes the mood of a meeting, than changing the direction. If you’re not sensing engagement or interest from your prospect, it’s important to have a plan B or plan C. There’s no guarantee that either will win the prospect over, but here’s a guarantee: Plan A ain’t getting it done.  (Show ref: Mad Men)
  7. Have You Answered All Objections or Demands – There are touchdowns, and there are one yard lines. Don’t assume anything is settled until all objections have been clearly exposed and responded and satisfied. Last minute requirements are often part of the entire negotiation process so expect them and understand them fully before making these critical last decisions. Have all the facts and button them down (Movie Ref: My Cousin Vinny, 1992)

In retrospect, the Jordan signing with Nike literally transformed the company. Jordan became the GOAT of the NBA. Nike became synonymous with cool, state of the art, and the brand kids wanted to wear. It was in short, the “sale of your life.” Keep this mindset, and it will keep life in your sales as well.

Author’s note: If you love movies as I do and you appreciate how they can drive home core concepts for a larger audience, I’m available for company and keynote addresses at meetings. Topics are largely around  communication principles that are key to sales, executive communication and better overall human communication in general – all delivered with the backdrop of famous and lesser known movie scenes! Book me today!

The Ganon Group offers communication coaching for executives and employees across all departments: C-Suite Leadership, Sales, Customer Experience, Technical / Product Development, to improve their communication and presentation techniques. We believe everyone can “up” their game when it comes to communicating initiatives and ideas within the organization, outside to new prospects, to existing clients, or to outside media and trade organizations.