Updated: Jul 31, 2019
It's true!!! This post is a follow up to a previous one called, "3 Books That Will Change The Way You Run Your Business For The Better". I was not sure that people would be interested in a movie version of how to better yourself in sales and business, but after receiving multiple requests, and seeing the results of a Twitter Poll I ran, here we are!
It's easy to find a list of the funniest, most entertaining, classic, or business/sales related movies simply by doing a Google search. It takes a little bit more time and a narrower search however, to find the movies that can not only motivate you in your professional life, but can teach you as well.
This list is purely objective! However let's be honest, with the exception of a few movies that transcend time, it's probably fairly generational as well.
All of this being said, here are my 5 suggestions for movies to watch that will help you improve professionally in sales and business. I have them ranked in order of my favorite first.
** Disclaimer: Some of these movies portray products or services that are illegal, and I certainly don't encourage you to go down that road 😁😁😁. However if you can learn to sell something that is not supposed to be sold, you can sell anything!**
Boiler Room (2000)
This movie's main character Seth Davis (played by Giovonni Ribisi) embodies the spirit of an entrepreneur. The movie begins with Seth running a "back door card game" that could rival a small casino, because he has dropped out of school and is looking to make some money.
Of course, as is known to happen, he is drawn into the high risk-high reward career of a stock broker with the lure of getting rich quick! From there he is taught to sell by some extremely talented people with the only motivation of getting rich at all costs.
While this movie is the perfect example of being able to learn how to sell and compete, it is also highly entertaining so I am not going to spoil any more of it for those of you who haven't seen it. I highly recommend it regardless of whether your interested in its lessons or not.
It's true that many businesses have moved quite a ways away from the "hard-sell", or pressure atmosphere. If you were to ask most people why this is, I will bet you dollars to donuts that they will say it's because potential customers/clients don't like the approach and turns people away.
"Honey catches more flies than vinegar" -- 17th Century Italian Proverb
There is actually some truth to that, but I'm here to tell you the truth, even when it's not convenient. In reality, quite a bit of it has more to do with the way sales people themselves have changed over the years, as opposed to consumers. The high pressure hard-sell atmosphere has never been for everyone, but it would seem that fewer and fewer people are able to handle the swings these days than before. In addition, there are more sales positions open than ever before as well. Therefore, in order to staff a salesforce, we've had to get creative and find new ways to successfully sell things using different techniques.
But let's not get it twisted, the hard-sell approach can still be very successful! There are quite a few people living in much bigger houses than you and I are who can vouch for that! The lifestyle can be very rough though, and this movie (believe it or not) is not that far off on what it can be like!
Definition of hard sell:
aggressive high-pressure salesmanship
**WARNING: Graphic Language. Watch at your own risk!**
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
This movie is the most recent of those that made the list, and could quite possibly be the most popular with millennial's today.
Much like Boiler Room and the others here, the Wolf of Wall Street is a very good movie based on it's entertainment value alone. The cast is amazing and I definitely recommend taking a look!
That being said, the single biggest business/sales feature you can take away from this film is determination, and the will to win. Yes, this movie has to do with selling stocks and doing illegal things as well (like Boiler Room), but that doesn't take away from the absolute talent portrayed when it comes to the art of selling.
Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to be the most talented salesperson around to be successful. That is an excuse people use as a reason they don't want to be in sales. The truth is that you can find people, places, and systems that can give you the words to say for any particular product or service. The only (and by far the hardest) thing you need to do is be willing to go out and say those words over and over again.
This film made it to number 2 on my list by being extremely entertaining as well as educational. Again, I am not going to give away too much of it, in case you haven't seen it. All I can hope is that I have created enough interest for you to watch it!
**WARNING: Graphic Language. Watch at your own risk!**
"Sell me this pen"
This video is just a small example of what I'm referencing. If I was putting together a sales force for just about anything, I could create a solid training program almost entirely comprised of video clips and lessons from the Wolf of Wall Street and Boiler Room.
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
While some people may think they are showing their age by referencing this movie in this fashion, I completely disagree. As I said before, this list is purely based on MY opinion, however Glengarry Glen Ross is a movie that transcends generations.
I was extremely young (a child) when this movie came out, and had never even heard of it until I was in college. At that point I was finally able to see it with some friends, and it had nothing to do with learning about how to sell or do business. I just loved the movie.
Entertainment value aside, Glengarry Glen Ross has some of the all-time best (and relevent) sales quotes ever. I'd be very surprised to be in a sales or business environment even today, where you didn't hear some of these quotes on a regular basis.
At the end of the day, if you have any sales experience what-so-ever, you are familiar with some of these quotes, even if you haven't see the movie. And if you have ever trained new sales people, how many times have you seen them talk them out of a sale by not following A-B-C? Always-Be-Closing! 🤦♂️🤦♂️🤦♂️
The bonus value of Glengarry Glen Ross is that no matter how many times you watch it, it will more than likely motivate you to get back to the basics. Some movies make sales look easy, and then when you get out in the real world it can smack you down. This movie gets me fired up to go sell, but reminds me that I need to be sharp in doing so.
Wall Street (1987)
This movie is where it all started for me! Again, I was very young when this came out and the first few times I saw it I didn't even understand it. I just thought Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas were really cool!
Obviously it wasn't until I was older and had a better understanding of the real world applications of this film that I really thought what I could learn.
Aside from the glaring lesson that Gordon Gekko gets caught and goes to jail for doing things illegally, hands down the biggest thing I took from this movie was the value of information and always being prepared. Don't get me wrong, I am a huge proponent of those who can think quickly on their feet. But let's not mix up "winging-it" with being quick witted.
And if you don't want to take my word for it, or the word from a movie, take it from him:
"There were other players that were more talented, but there was no one who could out-prepare me. And because of that, I have no regrets." -- Peyton Manning (not in the movie Wall Street, but one of the greatest football players of all time!)
I would imagine that a good portion of the people that are reading this has seen Wall Street. Therefore I am not as worried about giving away anything from the movie as I might be with others. However I sure I am not alone in that when I find a good movie that I can watch over and over again, much like all of the movies on this list, I am sure to find at least one new thing that I didn't realize before each time I watch.
Lord of War (2005)
I'm not sure how many "Best Business" or "Best Sales" Movie lists you will find this on. But if you have never seen it, I can guarantee at least ONE thing, and that is Lord of War will put things into perspective for you.
This is not your typical business movie in the classical sense, however it absolutely is about the economics of supply and demand.
Nicolas Cage plays Yuri Orlov, an international arms dealer who initially sort of stumbles into the profession after witnessing two would be assassins being killed with AK-47's. At that point he realized the cruel reality of the demand for such weapons. After he experiences the rush of his first sale, he is hooked and decides to take on his brother as a partner.
While this film is not a 100% true story about one person, it is based on some true historical events of a few arms dealers of the time period. Arms dealers that are not your traditional War Mongers, but instead were business people, using business tactics to fill an international demand.
"There are only two tragedies in life. One is not getting what you want, the other is getting it."
This cautionary tale of "be careful what you wish for" is viewed by most as a political wake up call as to what is happening with arms dealers and governments around the world. Lord of War certainly achieves that, however if you want to learn about how to leverage yourself in a market based on demand, the movie achieves this as well! I would just definitely stay away from being an arms dealer 😆😂
These movies are very close to the top 5 so I couldn't NOT at least mention them 🤷♂️
- Tin Men - Door-to-door aluminum-siding salesmen Bill "B.B." Babowsky
(Richard Dreyfuss) and Ernest Tilley (Danny DeVito) are professional rivals in an industry known for shady dealings and high-pressure sales. But their rivalry goes from professional to personal after a minor car accident that neither are willing to take the blame for. As the hatred between the two men grows to near insane levels......
- Seize The Day - When failing salesman Tommy Wilhelm (Robin Williams) loses
his job, his life starts to fall apart. His wife, Margaret (Katherine Borowitz), divorces him, and his disappointed father (Joseph Wiseman) belittles him. Tommy decides to move to New York City for a job set up by his friend Dr. Tamkin (Jerry Stiller), still believing he has the skills to be a top salesman.......
- The Pursuit Of Happyness - Life is a struggle for single father Chris Gardner (Will Smith). Evicted from their apartment, he and his young son
(Jaden Christopher Syre Smith) find themselves alone with no place to go. Even though Chris eventually lands a job as an intern at a prestigious brokerage firm, the position pays no money. The pair must live in shelters and endure many hardships, but Chris refuses to give in to despair as he struggles to create a better life......
The wrap-up here is pretty self explanatory. I hope this post has brought to light a few fun resources in which you can draw some professional knowledge. Maybe you even have seen some of these movies and can now go back and watch them in a different light.
This was certainly one of the more fun posts for me to put out! I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed creating it. If you didn't already, you can go back through and CLICK most of the pictures and links I provided to see more clips and places to buy these movies. Thank you so much for taking your valuable time to read this post. It is extremely humbling when others take an opportunity to recognize the work that you are doing!