10 TED Talks Every Sales Professional Needs to Watch

Posted by Tyler Vance on Mon, May 20, 2019
Tyler Vance
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One of the easiest ways salespeople can advance their careers and personal development is to always be learning – whether something new or reinforce existing knowledge. There is a plethora of free learning resources on the internet for business leaders, and one of the most popular resources leveraged by sales people are 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. Everything we do — from our TED Talks videos, to the global TEDx community, to the TED-Ed lesson series — is driven by this goal: How can we best spread great ideas?”

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 where to start. Here’s a list of 10 TED Talks that are fundamental for every sales professional to watch, with a brief description of each included.

 

  1. How Great Leaders Inspire Action – Simon Sinek

We’ve heard quite a few of our client’s assert that this is their top Ted Talk for their sales people to listen to. Don’t be misled by the title, Sinek’s points are just as relevant to sales people 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.

 

  1. 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, 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.

 

  1. How to Speak so That People Want to Listen – Julian Treasure

Sales people 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, Julian presents different techniques and tactics that can help make your prospects more interested in listening to you.

 

  1. 10 Way 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.  

 

  1. 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 pertains to sales organizations. According to Grant, sales people 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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 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.

 

  1. 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 sales person to choke. Cognitive scientist Sian Leah Beilock shares why that happens, how to identify it and what to do to avoid it.

 

  1. The Little Risks You Can Take to Increase Your Luck – Tina Seelig

Many believe that successful sellers have more luck then 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’.

 

  1. How to Find Work You Love – Scott Dinsmore

The last TED Talk every sales person should watch speaks to career advice. Finding a career that you are passionate about has significant benefits. Similar to the first 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 made changes to pursue his passion.

Hearing Scott’s story is a great reminder to all sales people 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 sales person.

 

Wrap-Up

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

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Topics: Team Performance