Can Roberto Benigni manage a sales training course?

Directed by R. Benigni - 1998 - Italy - 116 min

Life Is Beautiful

2022 August 03 | by Arduino Mancini Conflict - Diversity - Restructuring communication - Sales

Here is a film praised by critics from every corner of the planet, about which today I will help you discover aspects that can be extremely useful to some business roles.

Which ones? Don’t be impatient: let’s see some features of the plot first, and then we will go into more detail.

In the late 1930s in Tuscany, two young people leave the countryside to move to the city.

Guido, the brighter one, wants to open a bookstore in the city centre; the other, Ferruccio, is an interior decorator but delights in writing comic and irreverent verse.

While waiting to realize their hopes, the first finds work as a waiter at the Grand Hotel, while the second gets by as a clerk in a textile boutique.

One day Guido meets Dora, a young schoolteacher with whom he falls passionately in love and, to conquer her, invents the impossible; he continually appears before her, disguises himself as a school inspector, and kidnaps her with a Balilla.

But Dora is to be married to an old schoolmate, although the idea doesn’t appeal to her at all; and when the wedding is announced at the Grand Hotel, Guido bursts into the hall riding a horse and takes her away.

As in all good fairy tales, the two marry and soon have a child, Joshua.

But the brutality of fascism bursts in and destroys their happiness: racial laws and the war arrive.

Guido, a Jew, is deported together with his little son while Dora is taken elsewhere; in the concentration camp, to keep his son safe from the crimes being perpetrated and the ugliness of imprisonment, Guido makes the child believe that he is participating in a points game, in which to win one must pass some tests.

More I won’t say about the plot: find the trailer below, and then we will reflect together on some aspects of the film that may surprise you.




How to watch the film

Is Roberto Benigni a great sales professional?¬†Well… yes!

The angle from which I propose to review this masterpiece allows you to observe two different sales techniques, which the director presents when Guido takes on the role of the waiter.

The first is that of the “hunter,” who has a short-term vision and is focused on immediate reward on the product he has to “place”; the sales hunter has a relative interest in growing the relationship, except when it is functional to do business “now.” In this case, Guido succeeds in selling the only dish he has, salmon and salad, prompting the customer to reject “a heavy steak,” the “fried fried mushrooms,” or “buttered potatoes with Nancy butter.”

The second is that of the ” farmer,” who strives to develop a Client’s potential over time; for the sales farmer, developing relationships, rewarding more than short-term results, is crucial. Therefore, Guido reinforces the relation by capitalizing on the Client’s passion for riddles: “Snow White among dwarfs, solve this brainteaser riddle over time that gives you the solution.” A brain puzzle that the client will not solve and that will give him more than one sleepless night.

In reviewing the film, I suggest you dwell on these two moments, which are both brief and very instructive.

To these considerations, I add one, not less important.

The roles of the sales hunter of the sales farmer are very different, and it is not uncommon for companies at the recruiting stage, unaware, to search without making a distinction between the two roles; after all, a salesman is nothing but a salesman…

But assigning the management of a customer portfolio to a sales hunter means condemning him/her to mortal boredom, while asking the sales farmer to devote himself/herself with determination to the hunt for new customers, giving up building the relationships he/she holds so dear, means emptying his/her role of meaning.

In light of all this, Guido shows us in just the space of a few minutes the rare ability of a sales professional to switch from one style to a completely different one with extreme ease: getting the best possible result!

In this, too, Roberto Benigni shows all his greatness, probably unconsciously.

A movie you must see again!


Francesca Messinese, Massimo Salvianti, Giuliana Lojodice, Hannes Hellmann, Nicoletta Braschi, Roberto Benigni, Giustino Durano, Sergio Bustric, Alessandra Grassi, Claudio Alfonsi

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