TED Talks for Salespeople: The 5 Not to Be Missed


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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.

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!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Craig Wortmann
Craig Wortmann is the CEO and Founder of Sales Engine, a firm that helps companies build and tune their sales engine(s). He is also a renowned professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business. His course, Entrepreneurial Selling, was ranked by Inc Magazine as one of the Best Courses of 2011. Craig published his book What's Your Story?: Using Stories to Ignite Performance and Be More Successful in the same year and continues to speak on the topic of using stories in the sales process.


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