10 TED Talks Every Sales Professional Should Watch in 2021

Meg Prater
Meg Prater



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


Viewed regularly by millions across the globe, TED Talks bring valuable new perspectives to the table.

Here are five valuable TED Talks from a productivity expert, a psychologist, an economist, a seventh-grade math teacher, and a motivational speechwriter to kick off your day.

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TED Talks for Sales

1. Eddie Obeng: Smart Failure for a Fast-Changing World

The world is changing exponentially. The speedy exchange of information has changed all the rules of the business world -- and that includes how you sell. In this TED Talk, Eddie Obeng highlights three important changes you need to understand for better productivity.

"You are sitting at the headquarters of a global corporation if you're connected to the internet." Tweet This Quote

"[If] you do something no one's ever done before and get it completely wrong how should you be treated? You should be treated better than the people that succeed." Tweet This Quote

"Size and scale are no longer the same. Global is the new scale." Tweet This Quote

2. Kelly McGonigal: How to Make Stress Your Friend

Salespeople are no stranger to stress. McGonigal is a psychologist who believes stress is not the enemy. In her TED Talk, she explains when you change your mind about stress, you can change your body's response to it. She recommends acknowledging the typical signs of stress as your body feeling energized and up to the challenge, instead of stunted by it.

"Your biological stress response is nudging you to tell someone how you feel." Tweet This Quote

"When you change your mind about stress, you can change your body's response to stress." Tweet This Quote

"When life is difficult, your stress response wants you to be surrounded by people who care about you." Tweet This Quote

3. Ernesto Sirolli: Want to Help Someone? Shut Up and Listen!

The title says it all. Sustainable economic development expert Ernesto Sirolli highlights an all-too familiar situation: When you don't realize there's a problem because you never thought to ask. Sirolli explains how to listen to the people you're trying to help -- take this lesson and apply it the next time you're on a sales call with a prospect.

"The first principle of aid is respect." Tweet This Quote

"There's only one thing that all successful companies in the world have in common -- none was started by one person." Tweet This Quote

"You can change the culture and the economy of [a] community just by capturing the passion, energy, and imagination of your own people." Tweet This Quote

4. Angela Lee Duckworth: Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

When Angela Lee Duckworth left her management consulting job to teach math in the New York City public school system, she quickly realized she was leaving one difficult job for another. She wanted to find out why some students succeeded and some grew frustrated. In her talk, Duckworth explains her extensive study of a variety of verticles, including sales, in which she looked for early indicators of success and perseverance. One predictor emerged: Grit.

"What if doing well in life depends on much more than your ability to learn quickly and easily?" Tweet This Quote

"Grit is passion and perseverance for very long term goals." Tweet This Quote

"Grit is sticking with your future day in, day out ... and working really hard to make that future a reality." Tweet This Quote

5. Dan Pink: The Puzzle of Motivation

Here's a fact social scientists know but most managers don't: Traditional rewards aren't always as effective as we think. Through a series of stories, former Al Gore speechwriter Dan Pink breaks down the essence of motivation that can help you develop more positive sales habits.

"To my mind, the new operating system for our businesses revolves around three elements: autonomy, mastery, and purpose." Tweet This Quote

"The secret to high performance is the unseen intrinsic drive." Tweet This Quote

6. Rachel Botsman: We've Stopped Trusting Institutions and Started Trusting Strangers

Trust might be the most important aspect of sales. If your prospect doesn't trust you -- why would they buy from you? Researcher Rachel Botsman dives into how trust is evolving in the modern, technology-driven world and how we can make the most of it.



"You have to trust the idea. You have to trust the platform. But you don't have to trust the other person in the traditional sense." Tweet This Quote

"The real disruption happening isn't technological, it's the trust shift it creates." Tweet This Quote

7. Lera Boroditsky: How Language Shapes the Way We Think

A salesperson's most powerful tool is speech. Cognitive scientist Lera Boroditsky shares how the different sounds, vocabularies, and structures we use shape the way we think and act. Are you using language to your full advantage when selling?

"The beauty of linguistic diversity is it reveals to us just how ingenious and how flexible the human mind is." Tweet This Quote

"Languages are living things. Things that we can hone and change to suit our needs." Tweet This Quote

8. Sheena Iyengar: How to Make Choosing Easier

A salesperson's job is to make their prospect's choices easier. Psycho-economist Sheena Iyengar explains why consumers freeze and how businesses can improve the experience of choice.

"The key to getting the most from choice is to be choosy about choosing." Tweet This Quote

9. Rocio Lorenzo: How Diversity Makes Teams More Innovative

Is your team diverse enough to be innovative? Lorenzo turns to data to show how and why your team can produce more creative ideas by viewing diversity as a competitive advantage instead of a company-wide quota.

"More diverse companies are more innovative. Period." Tweet This Quote

10. Shonda Rhimes: My Year of Saying Yes to Everything

Shonda Rhimes, the mind behind some of television's most successful dramas, such as Grey's Anatomy and Scandal, shares her year-long journey of saying "Yes" to everything. In this talk, she explains how it changed her life and her views on work -- or, as she calls it, "the hum."

Salespeople are often lured by that hum of more work, more success, more deals. Rhimes recommends we all question the fulfillment offered by that hum.

"The very act of doing the thing that scared me undid the fear." Tweet This Quote

"Work doesn't work without play." Tweet This Quote

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

It's not always easy 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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