15 TED Talks Every Sales Professional Should Watch in 2021

Download Now: 2024 Sales Trends Report
Cassie Wilson
Cassie Wilson


Great sales departments motivate their employees with incentives, contests, and — you guessed it — pep talks.

 person gives a ted talk about sales on stage

Viewed regularly by millions across the globe, TED Talks bring valuable new perspectives to the table. Here are 15 valuable TED Talks from experts across industries to kick off your day.

Download Now: 2024 Sales Trends Report [New Data]

TED Talks for Sales

1. Hrishikesh Hirway: What You Discover When You Really Listen

Part of being a great salesperson is listening to your customers. When you take the time to listen to your customer, you can identify new ways in which your product or service can help solve their problems. In this TED Talk, Hrishikesh Hirway highlights essential aspects of what you can discover about a person when listening actively.

“Let the other person know you’re engaged. And do it without taking focus from them and turning it on you.” Tweet this quote

“But if you can ask for what’s below the surface of what they just said, you might unlock some door for them and invite them to go through it with you.” Tweet this quote

2. Christina Costa: How Gratitude Revives Your Brain

Costa, a cancer survivor and a psychologist, believes gratitude leads to resilience. In her TED Talk, she explains her journey with a brain tumor and how practicing gratitude helped change her outlook on her prognosis.

Salespeople are no strangers to stress, sticky situations, and sometimes less-than-ideal conditions that leave little room for gratitude. Costa recommends finding gratitude in every case to help build resilience — whether in life or your work.

“There are several positive psychological and social outcomes of gratitude, like increase in happiness, decrease in depression, having stronger relationships, and experiencing positive emotion.” Tweet this quote

“In general, the more we do something, the easier it becomes.” Tweet this quote

“By practicing gratitude, we can rewire our brains to help us build resistance.” Tweet this quote

3. Warren Valdmanis: What Makes a Job “Good” – and the Case for Investing in People

As a salesperson or a department leader, you know there is always room for improvement. The title of Warren Valdmanis’ TED Talk, “What Makes a Job ‘Good’” says it all. One of the critical aspects of improvement is appropriate training. But that is just one thing that makes a job “good.” Take the lessons from Valdmanis’ talk and apply them the next time you need to motivate or train your sales team.

“A good job is where a worker, one, is fairly treated; two, has a promising future; three, feels psychologically safe; and four, has a purpose.” Tweet this quote

“It’s a lot easier to share and listen to others if you and your colleagues feel passionately about your work.” Tweet this quote

4. Ashley M. Grice: The Power of Purpose in Business

Salespeople are leaders. They are persuaders who often work in a fast-paced environment. Unfortunately, in fast-paced environments, problems will arise. But, how a salesperson handles conflict makes the difference in a sale or a loss.

Leadership visionary Anne Morriss recommends five simple steps to overcome any problem at work.

“But purpose is your ‘why’. It is found at the intersection of who you are at your very best and the role in the world you are meant to play.” Tweet this quote

“Purpose that is rooted in your ethos, distinctive to your brand, meaningful to all stakeholders, and consistent with your values is authentic.” Tweet this quote

“When purpose is excavated and executed top floor to shop floor, those on the shop floor understand that their work matters and how it adds up to the overall value for the company.” Tweet this quote

5. Kevin Kelly: The Future Will Be Shaped by Optimists

Here’s a fact social scientists know but most managers don’t: Problems don’t always impede progress. Throughout his talk, editor and author Kevin Kelly breaks down the essence of optimism that can help you develop more positive sales habits.

“Belief that making something impossible happen is what has shaped our future so far.” Tweet this quote

“Problems don’t impede progress. Problems are conduits to progress.” Tweet this quote

6. Zach King: The Trick to Regaining Your Childlike Wonder

Making assumptions might be one of the biggest hindrances to making a sale. When you make assumptions about your prospect and their needs, are you seeing their pain points or listening to them? Speaker Zach King dives into how to remove assumptions and open ourselves to new possibilities.

“When we remove our assumptions, we’re able to see with this childlike sense of wonder. And that’s the moment when new ideas can enter the world.” Tweet this quote

7. Will Guidara: The Secret Ingredients of Great Hospitality

A salesperson’s most powerful tool is hospitality. Restaurateur Will Guidara shares how genuinely caring for your prospect makes an overall difference in your sales. Are you using your hospitality skills to your full advantage when selling?

But for me, being present means caring so much about the thing you’re doing or the person you’re with that you stop caring about all the other things you need to do. And it’s essential in delivering unreasonable hospitality.” Tweet this quote

Way too often in customer service businesses, we let these self-imposed standards get in the way of us giving our customers the thing they actually want.” Tweet this quote

Hospitality is about making people feel seen. And the best way to do that is not to treat them like a commodity, but as a unique individual.” Tweet this quote

8. Shreya Joshi: What You Can Learn from People Who Disagree With You

Let’s face it. Not every day as a salesperson is a great day. Sometimes, you will run into opposition from prospects, clients, or your team. Civilly disagreeing with people is a highly valuable skill in the sales world — you can safely maneuver and save the relationships you’ve spent time building. Speaker Shreya Joshi teaches how to learn from the people who disagree with you.

“I realized that we shouldn’t back away from discussing polarizing issues, even if it’s with people who disagree with us… But we can better understand opposing perspectives, which can help us to better advocate for our own beliefs. And maybe, just maybe, it even allows us to reach a compromise when the situation demands it.” Tweet this quote

9. Rasmus Ankersen: How to Outthink Your Competition

Being a great salesperson does not happen based on sheer luck. Often, success in sales is the result of lots of practice. Rasmus Ankersen uses his experience in sports analytics to show how and why your team can produce more results if you’re open to embracing change.

Successful organizations should think more like a good gambler. Because a good gambler has trained his brain to resist the human tendency to assume that good outcomes always mean that someone acted brilliantly.” Tweet this quote

10. Anne Morriss: 5 Steps to Fix Any Problem at Work

Salespeople are leaders. They are persuaders that often work in a fast-paced environment. Unfortunately, in fast-paced environments, problems will arise. But, how a salesperson handles conflict makes the difference in a sale or a loss.

Leadership visionary, Anne Morriss, recommends five simple steps to overcome any and every problem at work.

“The most effective leaders we know solve problems at an accelerated pace while also taking responsibility for the success and the well-being of their customers and employees and shareholders. They move fast and fix things.” Tweet this quote

“But sometimes just a single brave conversation can reveal an entirely new structure to your problem.” Tweet this quote

“Honor the complicated truth of the people around you, the ones who aren’t so sure about all your big plans.” Tweet this quote

11. DK: The Public Speaking Lesson You Never Had

Sure, salespeople aren’t usually on a stage making a plea to a crowded audience. But, the foundation that makes a great public speaker is the same building blocks of a successful salesperson.

According to DK, a speaker coach whose primary focus is storytelling, that includes grace, credibility, and resonance.

“If you get the right components together, you can get people physically dancing with you.” Tweet this quote

“If we start with a script, what you then do is condense it down to bullet points. And those bullet points become what you say and the stories you tell.” Tweet this quote

“People are going to mirror your emotions.” Tweet this quote

12. Maya Shankar: Why Change is So Scary – How to Unlock Its Potential

When Maya Shankar was a child, her dream was to be a professional violinist. Her plan was put to rest when she experienced a finger injury that no longer allowed her to play her instrument. Rather quickly, Maya realized she needed to adapt and become comfortable with change.

Change, whether unexpected or intended, is something all salespeople face on the job, but how one reacts to the wrinkle in the plan will determine success or failure.

Our psychology continually tricks us into believing that who we are right now, in this very moment, is the person that is here to stay. But the person meeting challenges after unexpected change will be different.” Tweet this quote

“I am asking myself how this unexpected challenge might change what I’m capable of, what I value, and how I define myself.” Tweet this quote

13. Sheryl Lee Ralph: A Three-Step Guide to Believing in Yourself

Sales can be a challenging space to navigate, especially if you’re prone to Imposter Syndrome. The way to kick Imposter Syndrome to the curb is to believe in yourself and visualize yourself successfully completing the task. Sheryl Lee Ralph understands the power of believing in yourself and dives into the three steps to believe in yourself, too.

“We need to see ourselves. I mean really, truly, deeply see ourselves for who and what we are in order to believe in ourselves.” Tweet this quote

“We’ve got to think about ourselves in order to believe in ourselves.” Tweet this quote

“We’ve got to act like we believe in ourselves.” Tweet this quote

14. Rana Kordahi: How to Achieve Everything in Life by Learning to Sell

Selling is an essential life skill according to Rana Kordahi. The skill set that makes a great salesperson also allows us to communicate well, to listen empathetically, and to negotiate various situations.

Based on her 20+ years of experience in sales, she argues that learning how to be a “consultative salesperson” rather than a “pushy salesperson” will help you gain skills that can allow you to flourish in other areas of your life besides professional sales.

“We have to accept and embrace that we are all salespeople whether we like it or not.” Tweet this quote

“If you don’t know how to sell and communicate, you’re not going to get very far in life.” Tweet this quote

“There are three things you need to be successful in sales or business: courage, patience, and a relentless work ethic.” Tweet this quote

15. Steve Harrison: How to Sell Without Selling Your Soul

After sharing his accidental entry into sales as a door-to-door salesman in college, Harrison explains his redefinition of the word “to sell” and how it revolutionizes how one approaches and goes about selling. The power of love focuses on putting the customers’ needs and concerns first, allowing a salesperson to serve them better.

“Everyone has doors. And if you knock on those doors, they open. They can bring incredible blessings. But most of us never knock — because we’re scared.” Tweet this quote

“To sell. S-E-L-L: to sincerely encourage by listening and loving.” Tweet this quote

“Get the person right, and you’ll get the world right.” Tweet this quote

These TED Talks embody the tenacity, innovative thinking, and hustle every salesperson needs to be successful.

It can be challenging to stay motivated in the day-to-day grind of selling. TED Talks like these can give you just the jolt you need to remember why you love this job — even during the longest sales days.

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