One of the easiest ways sales professionals can advance their careers is to always be learning – whether that's sales training, personal development or reinforcing existing sales knowledge. There is a plethora of free learning resources on the internet and one of the most popular resources leveraged by sales professionals is TED Talks.

On the unlikely chance that you need a primer, TED is a nonprofit-owned, nonpartisan organization with a goal to make “Great ideas accessible and spark conversation.”

With over 3,000 different TED Talks scattered across seemingly endless categories and offered in more than 100 different languages, it can be difficult to know what the best sales TED Talks are. Here’s a list of 10 that are fundamental for every sales professional to watch, with a brief description of each.

The 10 Best TED Talks for Sales Professionals
  1. How Great Leaders Inspire Action - Simon Sinek
  2. Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are - Amy Cuddy
  3. How to Speak so That People Want to Listen - Julian Treasure
  4. 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation - Celeste Headlee
  5. Are You a Giver or a Taker? - Adam Grant
  6. Why the Secret to Success is Setting the Right Goals - John Doerr
  7. Don't Fail Fast-Fail Mindfully - Leticia Gasca
  8. Why We Choke Under Pressure and How to Avoid It - Sian Leah Beilock
  9. The Little Risks You Can Take to Increase Your Luck - Tina Seelig
  10. 6 Tips for Building Your Confidence - Emily Jaenson

Sales TED Talk 1: How Great Leaders Inspire Action – Simon Sinek

We’ve heard quite a few of our clients assert that this is their top sales TED Talk for their sellers to listen to. Don’t be misled by the title, Sinek’s points are just as relevant to salespeople as those in leadership positions. Simon explains that when presenting an idea or company, or even yourself, it is much more compelling to start with your ‘Why’, or the belief behind what you are doing, before moving to more tangible concepts like ‘How’ and ‘What’.

Translating this lesson to sales context: the next time that you are on a sales call, at a networking event, conference or simply asked what your company does, start with your ‘Why’ and see how different of a reaction you receive.

Sales TED Talk 2: Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are - Amy Cuddy

Ever heard the old adage: How you say it is just as important as what you say? In this talk, Amy Cuddy introduces a concept called “power posing” and how using it can increase a person’s confidence and chances of success. This TED Talk was so powerful and popular that she subsequently wrote a book on body language, which has equally impactful lessons for sellers.

According to Cuddy, by learning power posing, sellers can boost their communication skills and present themselves as more confident and differentiated to prospects. In return, this can increase the likelihood of a successful outcome, be it a secured meeting, closed deal, etc.

Sales TED Talk 3: How to Speak so That People Want to Listen – Julian Treasure

Salespeople interact frequently with C-Level prospects, clients, peers and managers, both in-person and over the phone; in many ways, that’s the basis of the job. Being able to communicate effectively and in a way that commands attention is a significant asset. In this Ted Talk, salespeople can glean different techniques and tactics that Julian presented, which can help make your prospects more interested in listening to you.

Sales TED Talk 4: 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation – Celeste Headlee

In today’s world of digital communication, conversation skills are becoming more and more scarce. Yet, much of sales is still done through verbal communication. Celeste Headlee shares 10 steps to follow for facilitating better conversations and includes actionable tactics for conversing with someone who has a polarizing opinion that you don’t agree with. This can be a particularly useful skill when dealing with rebuttals in sales calls.

Sales TED Talk 5: Are You a Giver or a Taker? – Adam Grant

Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist who has studied thousands of companies and employees, striving to determine what personality types contribute the most to success. Some of the most surprising results from the data he collected pertain to sales organizations. According to Grant, salespeople who were considered to be ‘givers’ make up both the highest and lowest percentage of revenue producers out of all personality types.

To discover why that’s the case, you will have to watch this TED talk. Grant’s breakdown offers fascinating insights and ways you can improve your sales performance by channeling certain personality traits.

Sales TED Talk 6: Why the Secret to Success is Setting the Right Goals – John Doerr

The idea that goal setting – both short-term and long-term, is essential to sales success—is not necessarily anything new. What’s not discussed as frequently is ensuring that your goal-setting process is focused on the right outcomes. In this Talk, John Doerr details the goal-setting system used by Google, Intel, and Bono.

Sales TED Talk 7: Don’t Fail Fast-Fail Mindfully – Leticia Gasca

Hearing a ‘No’ from a prospect is, in some ways, one of the only guarantees in a sales role. Some of the enterprise culture of late has glorified failing often in order to improve, a la ‘move fast and break things.’ However, instead of failing fast and ignoring the process in which you failed or discussing it, Leticia Gasca encourages us to discuss our failures and learn from them. By failing mindfully, you take pride in your failure and learn how to grow from it, making this one of the best TED Talks for sales.

Sales TED Talk 8: Why We Choke Under Pressure and How to Avoid It – Sian Leah Beilock

We’ve all been there – there’s a meeting with a high-level prospect you’ve been pursuing, or you’re in a very competitive sale that requires our top performance, but we stumble and end up not succeeding. In high-pressure sales situations, it’s not uncommon for a salesperson to choke. Cognitive scientist Sian Leah Beilock shares why that happens, how to identify it and what to do to avoid it.

Sales TED Talk 9: The Little Risks You Can Take to Increase Your Luck – Tina Seelig

Many believe that successful sellers have more luck than unsuccessful sellers. This notion is challenged in this talk as Tina Selig argues there are steps you can take to increase your chances of getting ‘lucky’. She also explains that taking little steps like getting out of your comfort zone, taking more risks, showing appreciation and being open to all ideas can all significantly improve your ‘luck’.

Sales TED Talk 10: 6 Tips for Building Your Confidence - Emily Jaenson

Confidence in sales, particularly during prospecting, presentations, and interactions with clients, can be the difference between closing a deal and facing objections. But building this confidence can involve multiple pillars, which is what makes this one of the best TED talks for sales. Emily shares practical tips to cultivate this confidence, such as focusing on personal strengths, setting achievable goals, and seeking feedback. Through these actionable insights, sales professionals can enhance their performance, foster deeper client relationships, and solidify their self-belief.

Honorable Mentions

It was tough deciding on only 10 TED talks that can help sales people. Below are some talks that didn’t make the top 10 but are definitely worth a watch.

How Great Leaders Take on Uncertainty - Anjali Sud & Stephanie Mehta

Over the past few years, uncertainty has led to significant changes in the workplace and, fundamentally, how some organizations operate. This TED Talk highlights the significance of embracing uncertainty, which is a consistent learning curve salespeople must face. Sud and Mehta note that developing a mindset that welcomes ambiguity and change is crucial, something salespeople can leverage to meet evolving customer needs and market conditions. The talk also emphasizes the importance of resilience and self-assurance, especially when faced with rejection or challenging negotiations, making them indispensable traits for those in sales.

Great Leadership Is A Network, Not A Hierarchy - Gitte Fredrickson

Gitte Frederiksen explores a non-traditional approach to leadership, advocating for a network-based leadership model where power and decision-making are decentralized. For salespeople, this talk offers insights into fostering collaboration, empowerment, and trust within sales teams. By adopting a networked leadership style, sales professionals can promote creativity, enhance communication, and stimulate innovation, ultimately driving better sales results and customer satisfaction.

How to Outthink Your Competition -- With a Lesson from Sports - Rasmus Ankersen

In this talk, Rasmus Ankersen draws insightful connections between the worlds of sports and business. Starting with a compelling analogy from football, he challenges the adage “The league table never lies” by suggesting that “The league table always lies.” He goes on to discuss the gamblers of the sports world, and the mathematics of randomness. Ankersen highlights the importance of adopting a growth mindset, seeking unconventional strategies, and constantly pushing boundaries. For sales professionals, this talk inspires a proactive approach to staying ahead of the competition, fostering a culture of innovation, adaptability, and an unwavering dedication to continuous improvement.

How to Find Work You Love – Scott Dinsmore

The last sales TED Talk every salesperson should watch speaks to career advice. Finding a career that you are passionate about has significant benefits. Similar to the first sales TED Talk on this list, it’s important to find your ‘Why’ and channel that passion into your career. Scott Dinsmore shares his own story of how he was miserable with his previous career until ma1de changes to pursue his passion. Hearing Scott’s story is a great reminder to all salespeople that if we enjoy the solutions we provide and are passionate about helping our market succeed through those solutions, it is a lot easier to, in turn, find success as a salesperson.

Good Starting Point

This list is definitely not exhaustive, however, provides a good starting point for using TED Talks to promote sales training and sales skills. If there is a sales TED Talk that has helped you succeed as a seller that we missed, we’d like to hear from you. Reach out on LinkedIn and tell us what your favorite sales TED Talks are!