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TED Talks for Salespeople: The 5 Not to Be Missed

By June 18, 2013 9 Comments

Sometimes we need little moments of education to shock ourselves out of our normal way of thinking. We think TED talks often do that for our team. (If you haven’t listened to TED Talks before, you’re missing out!) We hope the following 5 talks help you think about your work or your life in a different way.

TED Talks for Salespeople: 5 Not To Be Missed

The Top 5 TED Talks for Salespeople:

Try something new for 30 days

We really like Matt Cutt’s message. It’s simple and you may have even considered it before. You may be asking yourself, “what does this have to do with sales?”. In our work consulting with clients, we see this pattern a lot: A business development team has a lot of early success, customers are happy, and the team is flourishing. Then, they reach a point where the sale isn’t easy. Yet, they continue to approach the same types of prospects, in the same manner, using the same process. Deciding to make a change or use a different angle to get to where you want to go can be difficult. Trying something new takes a lot of guts, but if you give yourself the chance to make one small change to the way you approach your job as a salesperson, you might be able to do something you never thought you could do.

The key to success? Grit

Angela Duckworth would probably be a good friend if we ever had the chance to meet her. At Sales Engine, the word “discipline” is our favorite in the English language. But after listening to her speak, we decided we really like the word “grit“. In sales, success doesn’t necessarily depend on your ability to make things happen quickly or to know the most about a certain customer. It might actually have to do with persistence, determination, discipline, AND grit.

“Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals…Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” – Angela Lee Duckworth

Your body language shapes who you are

We found ourselves sitting up a little straighter, holding our shoulders back, and thinking about how we’re communicating (nonverbally) with whom we work after listening to this talk.  If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a weak handshake, you know that body language really does communicate. In this case, the weak handshake communicates that this person is probably not confident. Powerful people tend to be more assertive and more confident, according to Cuddy. The easiest way to communicate that is through your body language. Think about what your body is telling potential customers, strategic partners, and coworkers.

“Our minds change our bodies and our bodies change our minds.”- Amy Cuddy

Want to help someone? Shut up and listen!

Ernesto Sirolli is an aid worker and this talk is largely about his work with multiple NGOs in the 70s. But every salesperson and entrepreneur should translate Sirolli’s message into his or her work. It takes discipline to slow down, shut up, and listen. All too often, salespeople show up with the intent to talk talk talk, rather than listen. We may show up with a script programmed into our head that, according to the numbers, demonstrates that it has a high conversion rate. We go to a meeting with a potential customer, we plan to say “this and that and some more of that”, and we walk away without asking questions. What if you went into your next sales call or meeting with the intent to listen, rather than to talk?

“We become friends and we find out what that person wants to do…The passion that the person has for their own growth is the most important thing.”

How great leaders inspire action

At this point, Simon Sinek’s TED talk on how leaders inspire action and why some companies succeed, while others fail is a classic. (In fact, we’d be surprised if you haven’t seen it yet!). We recently read his book Start with Why and encourage those of you who find this talk interesting to pick up his book as well.

What is your favorite TED Talk? Have some of the talks encouraged you to read a new book, try something new, or make a change in work or personal life? What other TED talks would you recommend to salespeople, managers, or leaders?

Let us know by leaving a comment below!
Written by Jenny Poore. You can find her on Twitter and .

Join the discussion 9 Comments

  • Stephanie says:

    Great List!! I think you will really enjoy this TED Talk as well! –

  • Mike A says:

    These TED talks are a joke. I’ve been speaking publicly for thirty years and was surprised at the lack of enthusiasm and the monotone delivery of the speakers. Furthermore, the woman who spoke on body language was a horrible speaker. She was flustered and showed that she was nervous, which is quite ironic considering that she was giving a talk on power posturing.

    • Jake Moran says:

      I’m always entertained by cynics who post irrelevant comments, always led by a remark about their professional careers. A tip Mike: as your in your mid to later 50’s, and you have drug along all the bad habits of the earlier, less enlightened years of sales, marketing and so on, I would suggest closing your mouth, and listening.

      In fact, I believe there is a TED talk on that 🙂

    • Maurizzio33 says:

      Her apparent “fluster” created an honest and disarming connection with the audience, and led to a very heartwarming and engaging anecdote. That nervousness was most likely prompted by knowing she was about to disclose a very intimate and formative part of herself to a bunch of strangers. I think, if anything, she PROVED the effectiveness of use of body language.
      Oh, and can you really make such a sweeping judgment of TED and expect anyone to listen to you? On stage or otherwise?

    • Guest says:

      Your comment is so much more telling of you than of the talks. It sounds like you were watching to score them instead of listening to their message. I would much prefer an imperfect but impassioned speaker that delivers insight than a highly polished piece of fluff.

  • Mike A says:


    No need to flame, and there are no bad habits here. Unlike most, I don’t put my audience to sleep. I heard some TED talks based on the rave reviews and was not impressed. There are times when you talk and you just don’t hit the mark, or even get nervous and lose the audience (it still happens to me every now and then). However, I viewed a number of TED talks and, as a listener, found them dull and poorly executed. If they work for you, then knock yourself out – seems like just a fad to me though.

  • DK says:

    Cool list! On the same thread, I’d encourage everyone to check out this listing of top resources for aspiring sales & communication masters–hope this helps!

  • Evan Fortier says:

    Great list! My favourite one is Amy cuddy’s speech. Body language is as important as your words. Here are another amazing videos for salespeople-

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