After all, there’s so much Hollywood gets wrong about selling…and a few things it gets right, too.
And I want to share my insight with as many salespeople as possible.
Sales Trainer Reviews Sales Movie Scenes Tip #1: Confidence comes from having a process.
In the classic 1995 comedy Tommy Boy, Chris Farley’s character, Tommy, spends one hilarious scene freaking out before heading into a meeting with a prospect. He tries to hype himself up to get over his nerves, repeating, “I got to do this. I got to do this. This has got to be the one…”
Tommy’s insecurities really show when he asks David Spade’s character, Richard, “Hey, does this suit make me look fat?” (Richard’s encouraging response: “No. Your face does.”)
Now, all jokes aside, being nervous is often par for the course in sales. Many salespeople feel insecure, out of their league, and downright jittery before entering a meeting with a good prospect. Right before we start that meeting, our insecurities can seem to come out of nowhere to hit us right where it hurts—just like Tommy’s do.
It might seem silly to have a serious takeaway from this funny scene in Tommy Boy, but in reality, there is one powerful tip you can learn: Have a process.
Confidence in sales comes from having a process. Tommy lacks confidence (and effectiveness) because he doesn’t have a sales process at all. In fact, as we’ll find out in later scenes from this movie, he’s totally winging it when he sells, and the results are disastrous.
If you want to avoid the jitters and build up your confidence when you sell, follow a step-by-step process for selling and stick to it every single time. You’ll be amazed at how it will increase your self-esteem as a salesperson, along with your effectiveness during the sale itself.
Tip #2: It’s okay to get a “no” from a prospect.
In another great scene from Tommy Boy, right before Tommy and Richard walk into the sales meeting, they have this hilarious exchange:
Richard: “Now it’s sale time. So remember: We don’t take no—”
Tommy: “—no shit from anyone!”
Tommy: “We don’t take no prisoners!”
Richard: “No—we don’t take no for an answer.”
Tommy: “Oh yeah…”
I love this scene, but in reality, “we don’t take no for an answer” is a really old-school way of looking at sales.
When you’re at the start of a sale, it’s fine to push through initial resistance from the prospect. But at the end of a sale, “no” is a perfectly acceptable outcome.
What we actually never want to take for an answer is “I need to think about it” or “I want to think it over and get back to you”—those are the wishy-washy selling outcomes we want to avoid at all costs.
Tip #3: Have contingencies in place.
The next scene from Tommy Boy I want to review is a montage of Tommy and Richard getting a quick succession of hard “no’s” from prospects. It goes like this:
Prospect #1: “No.”
Tommy and Richard: “Okey-dokey!”
Prospect #2: “No.”
Tommy and Richard: “Gotcha! Thanks!”
Prospect #3: “Nuh-uh.”
Tommy and Richard: “Terrific! Thanks for your time.”
First of all, while this is hilarious, it’s highly unrealistic that prospects will just say “no” to you like this…they’re far more likely to give you one of those wishy-washy “think it over” responses at the end of the sale.
But obviously, Tommy and Richard are doing something very wrong in their sales meetings, so they’re getting hard “no’s” every single time. And what’s their response? They just completely cave! Right away, they give a friendly “okey-dokey!” and end the meeting.
In real life, you always want to have contingencies in place for when prospects respond poorly to your sales conversation. Instead of caving right away and just ending the meeting, you should have a series of planned-out responses that can help you get the conversation back on track.
Never give up at the first sign of resistance. Have contingencies in place so that you can dig into whatever the prospect is saying, and find out why they’re saying it.
Sales Trainer Reviews Sales Movie Scenes Tip #4: Don’t use technical jargon.
At one point in Tommy Boy, Richard and Tommy finally get a prospect who responds to their pitch with, “Let me say maybe.”
Immediately, Richard launches into the following monologue: “Well then, I’d just like to add that this spectrometer read-out on the nickel cadmium alloy mix indicates a Goodrich strobe and fade decreasing incidents of wear to the pressure plate…”
The prospect stops him, saying: “Whoa, little fella! You’re not speaking my language.”
This is a really good example of how technical salespeople tend to focus on the tech side of things, even when talking to a decision maker who’s clearly not a technical person. It’s a real thing that we see happen in sales all the time.
If you have that technical background, it can be tempting to get into the weeds and use technical jargon. But if you do, you’ll be speaking a different language than your prospect.
In reality, if a prospect says “maybe” to you during a sales conversation, you want to simply get them talking more. Ask them something like, “When you say ‘maybe,’ help me understand where your head’s at?” Don’t launch into a pitch of the technical features of your product, whatever you do.
Sales Movie Scenes Tip #5: Pitching benefits doesn’t work.
When it’s clear that Richard’s pitch of technical product features isn’t working, Tommy jumps in with his own attempt: “What my associate is trying to say is that our new brake pads are really cool! You’re not even going to believe it. Like, let’s say you’re driving along the road with your family, and you’re driving along…[here, Tommy takes a collectible car figurine from the prospect’s desk and starts playing with it]…and then all of a sudden there’s a truck tire in the middle of the road and you hit the brakes. Whoa!”
This is such a funny scene, because you can see the prospect’s face drop when he realizes Tommy has picked up his treasured car figurine and is about to do something stupid with it. But what I want to focus on, before we get to that point, is that Tommy has effectively gone into a benefits pitch, to try to counteract Richard’s failed features pitch.
The truth is, pitching benefits doesn’t work any better than pitching features does. By giving a benefits pitch, Tommy is failing to get the prospect talking. He’s just launching into a salesy pitch of the benefits of the brake system, that’s clearly going to end up as a disaster…
What he should be doing instead is getting the prospect talking. He could ask questions about the prospect’s current brake pads, or inquire about how he uses his car on a regular basis, or ask him what he’s concerned about when it comes to his existing braking system—there are so many ways to get him talking! Pitching benefits is not one of them.
Tip #6: Pay attention to the prospect’s reaction.
Continuing with this review of the sales scene from Tommy Boy, as Tommy uses the prospect’s treasured car figurine to act out an increasingly grisly car crash (“You’re driving along, you’re driving along, and all of a sudden…there’s a cliff. Ahhh! And your family’s screaming, ‘Oh my God!’…”) it’s blatantly obvious that the prospect is horrified by what he’s watching unfold.
Again, while Tommy Boy isn’t meant to be taken seriously in this regard, we can still learn something powerful from this comedic scenario.
If he were a real salesperson, Tommy should have been paying close attention to the prospect’s reaction here. Instead, he entirely ignores the prospect’s attempts to signal him to stop as he continues with his eccentric, disastrous “pitch”—very funny to watch, but a big selling no-no.
You should always pay attention to the prospect’s reaction to what you say and do, whether it’s their facial expression, their body language, or some subtle shift in their mood. If you’re talking during a sales meeting and you notice that the prospect is showing any signs of disagreement or discomfort—stop.
Don’t fall into the trap of getting stuck completely in your own head, like Tommy does. Keep your eyes and ears attuned to the prospect’s reaction, always.
Sales Trainer Reviews Sales Movie Scenes Tip #7: Don’t worry about getting kicked out.
At this point, it should come as no surprise that Tommy is about to get a very negative response from the prospect. Here’s how it goes:
Prospect: “Get out. Now.”
Tommy: “…do you validate?”
Tommy: “Okay. Thank you!”
While this is a hilarious end to a fantastic movie scene, it’s pretty unrealistic in real life. How many times have you ever been kicked out of a prospect’s office?
(I’ve actually been kicked out of an office a couple of times for just taking things too far in my early selling days. And I think it’s a really awesome experience to have gone through. It takes the fear out of it.)
In reality, though, there are very few salespeople I know of who have ever been kicked out of offices before.
So don’t be afraid of getting kicked out! It happens rarely, if ever. Be willing to push it with your prospects. Stand your ground. Don’t fold and leave at the first sign of disinterest. Do what you can to re-engage them, again and again.
And obviously, never do a weird, disastrous sales pitch like Tommy’s…
Sales Movie Scenes Tip #8: Time is your most valuable asset.
The next movie I’m going to review is 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness. This movie stars Will Smith as Chris Gardner, a homeless salesman and single father, working hard at sales to provide for his young son, Christopher. In one early scene, we hear Gardner narrating a description of his cold-calling sales job:
“Whoever brought in the most money after six months was usually hired. We were all working our way up call sheets to sign clients—from the bottom to the top, from the doorman to the CEO. [The other salespeople would] stay until seven, but I had Christopher. I had to do in six hours what they would do in nine…In order not to waste any time, I wasn’t hanging up the phone in between calls. I realized that by not hanging up the phone, I gained another eight minutes a day…I also wasn’t drinking water, so I didn’t waste any time in the bathroom.”
Those last few lines there are so important: Gardner had to be as effective in six hours as the other salespeople were in nine hours. And so, he actively figured out smart, creative ways to avoid wasting time by doing things such as not hanging up the phone in between calls. However, I would never recommend not drinking water or going to the bathroom during the day—of course, this is where Hollywood comes in and makes things a bit more dramatic than reality.
Nonetheless, this is pure gold from a sales mindset perspective. Why? Because time is your most valuable asset as a salesperson. That might seem obvious, but most salespeople are downright inefficient with how they spend their day.
In fact, if you simply make the effort to work more efficiently and intentionally at sales—and ditch all non-selling tasks during the workday—it’s actually far easier than you think to accomplish more in less time.
For years, I’ve been talking about an idea called the Five-Hour Sales Day. I love to say that you can easily do in five hours what any other salesperson can do in eight or nine, simply by taking stock of what you’re spending your time on. The key is to make sure you’re not wasting any time on non-selling tasks throughout the day. It’s as straightforward as that.
Sometimes just holding yourself accountable to keeping your calls moving along at a brisk pace is all you need to blow your selling competition out of the water. That’s why I love this scene from The Pursuit of Happyness. While not hanging up between cold calls and avoiding bathroom breaks is obviously an extreme example of how a salesperson can be more efficient with his or her time, it’s clear to me from his mindset that Gardner is smart, hardworking, and on his way to becoming a top-performing salesperson.
Tip #9: Don’t use a sales voice.
As we continue to listen to Gardner make cold calls in the early parts of this film, it becomes obvious that he uses a very specific “sales voice” when making calls. Instead of saying normal things like, “Hey, how are you today?” he opens his calls with a formal, “Why, good morning to you!” and calls his prospects “sir.”
Let’s break this down, because it’s a really powerful point in sales: Gardner’s use of a sales voice actually hurts him rather than helps him, and that’s true for all salespeople.
When you use a tone and language that sound overly formal, cheerful, or enthusiastic, prospects immediately put up their walls.
Always talk to prospects as you would speak to a good friend at a bar. Speak casually and comfortably. Of course, you want to be professional, but there’s no need to use a formal tone or fancy language. Doing so will only send up a signal to your prospects that you’re a salesperson, and they’re about to get sold. Nothing makes people want to get off the phone faster.
Sales Trainer Reviews Sales Movie Scenes Tip #10: Just call the CEO.
This next scene is one of my favorites. We hear Gardner say:
“But even doing all this, after two months, I still didn’t have time to work my way up a sheet [to call high-level prospects such as CEOs].”
And then we see him skip over a long list of low-level names on his client list, and boldly circle the name of a CEO at the very top—and start dialing.
This is a great lesson. Most of the time, salespeople are calling on low-level prospects. In Gardner’s case, he’s selling against a whole room full of salespeople who are also working their way slowly up a list of prospects, so his competition is all calling on low-level prospects. What he’s doing is separating himself from the pack by skipping the low-level calls and going straight to a really high-level decision maker. This takes guts—and not enough salespeople do this.
Every salesperson should have a list of 20 or so dream prospects who would totally transform their business if they could get in front of them and sell. Who would those people be for you? I encourage you to follow Gardner’s lead here, and just call the CEO, or whatever title represents that dream prospect for you. It could change your business, and change your life. Aim high.
Tip #11: Have a plan to get past the gatekeeper.
The next scene I want to review is a classic gatekeeper scenario. When Gardner dials the CEO, he obviously gets the CEO’s assistant, and has to figure out a way to get past the assistant to the CEO. Here’s his approach:
Gardner: “Yes. Hello. My name is Chris Gardner. I’m calling for Mr. Walter Ribbon.”
Gardner: “Yes ma’am. I’m calling from Dean Witter.”
Assistant: “Just a moment.”
This isn’t great, but it’s actually not terrible either. Let’s walk through it.
First of all, salespeople should always be vague when dealing with gatekeepers, so when the assistant asks, “Concerning?” I’m not thrilled with Gardner’s response, “I’m calling from Dean Witter.” This sounds really salesy and makes it pretty obvious that he’s a salesperson. There’s just no way that assistant would have let him through to the CEO in real life.
When you’re dealing with a gatekeeper who asks, “What is this concerning?” or “Who is this?” you should be a lot more vague. Certainly don’t say the name of your company right away or otherwise make it clear that you’re a salesperson.
Sales Movie Scenes Tip #12: Know your first 30 seconds cold.
Now, the assistant transfers Gardner right over the CEO, and he picks up:
Gardner: “Mr. Ribbon. Hello, sir. My name’s Chris Gardner. I’m calling from Dean Witter.”
CEO: “Yeah, Chris?”
Gardner: “Yes, Mr. Ribbon. I would love to have the opportunity to sit with you to discuss some of our products.”
This is where it really becomes a train wreck. His opening is not good. In real life, salespeople are going to get hung up on a lot if they use an opening like, “My name is so-and-so and I’m calling from this company. I’d love to show you all about our products.” That is a really bad opening to a call, no question.
The prospect Gardner is calling is a high-level decision maker. He’s busy. He’s important. In real life, he would have absolutely no interest in talking to this salesperson. And Gardner isn’t doing much to engage him—he’s just using a typical salesy opening that has nothing to do with this prospect as an individual.
The key to avoiding bad openings like this is simply to know your first 30 seconds cold. You never want to be falling back on boilerplate sales language at the start of a call. Your first 30 seconds of every call should be carefully planned out, and whatever you say should be tight, concise, riveting, and value-packed. Basically the opposite of what we see in this scene.
Tip #13: Prospects only listen to WIIFM.
This next part of the scene is one of the most unrealistic sales scenarios ever:
Gardner: “I’m certain that I could be of some assistance to you.”
CEO: “Can you be here in 20 minutes?”
Gardner: “20 minutes? Absolutely.”
CEO: “I just had someone cancel. Come now. I can give you a few minutes before the 49ers. Monday night football, buddy!”
Gardner: “Yes, sir. Thank you very much.”
CEO: “See you soon!”
There’s simply no way that a big-time CEO is going to invite a salesperson he doesn’t know to come into his office and pitch him on some random prospects in the middle of the day, with 20 minutes’ notice. It’s just not going to happen.
If we want to give this movie a huge benefit of the doubt, then maybe we can say that when this movie takes place in the early 80s, this could have potentially been possible…in certain rare circumstances. But today? No way.
The reason this is so unrealistic is that prospects only listen to one radio station in their head: WIIFM, also known as What’s In It For Me. I love this saying, because it’s so true. And unless you recognize that WIIFM is constantly playing in your prospects’ minds, you’ll never succeed at sales.
In your calls, especially to high-level prospects like CEOs, it must be abundantly clear at the outset what’s in it for your prospects. Otherwise, why would they ever continue the phone call? Just saying, “I really think I could be of some assistance to you,” is incredibly weak. What’s more, it’s not going to work.
So again, this scene is really problematic. Even if Gardner had done a good job of saying something valuable and compelling (which he didn’t), the CEO would still not just randomly invite him to his office. He’s not just sitting around waiting for something to do. But that’s Hollywood for you!
Sales Trainer Reviews Sales Movie Scenes Tip #14: Remember that your prospects are busy.
The final film I’m going to review here is 2000’s Boiler Room with Vin Diesel and Giovanni Ribisi. This is one of those intense stockbroker movies where salespeople are super cutthroat about making the sale.
In the first scene I want to focus on, Giovanni Ribisi’s character, Seth Davis, a newer salesperson, is in the middle of making a cold call to a prospect who’s a doctor:
Doctor [standing at a phone in the hospital]: “I’m really busy, Seth.”
Seth: “No, look, I understand, doctor. I’m really busy here myself.”
Before continuing with the rest of this exchange, I want to point out two things. First, responding to a prospect’s claim that he’s really busy by saying “I’m really busy myself” is a terrible contingency. That’s just not going to work in real life. And second, it’s highly unrealistic that a doctor is going to pick up the phone for a random stockbroker in the middle of his rounds at the hospital. In reality, you’d need to be much more creative and persistent to get in front of a busy prospect like this. Let’s continue with the rest of the call:
Seth: “We’re going to come back to you in one month with one idea. And one idea only. If you like what we have to say, great. We’ll do business. If not, worst case scenario, you’re going to hear yourself a new business idea—”
Doctor [to a nurse standing beside him]: “Whoever took that X-ray, it is useless.”
Seth: “—and we’re going to part as friends. That’s fair. Right?”
Doctor [distracted]: “What?”
Seth: “Doc, are you working with a million dollars in the market right now?”
Doctor: “Who is this again?”
Clearly this script was written by someone who actually makes cold calls. There’s a lot that’s realistic in this part of the call. In particular, all prospects are busy, just like this doctor. Notice how he keeps getting distracted. Prospects are typically doing a million different things while you’re on the phone with them. They’re distracted all the time. There are people around them. They have other things on their mind, they’re checking their email, etc.
Because prospects are so busy, they often don’t really “tune in” to what we’re saying until after the first 10–20 seconds of the call. That’s why it’s so important to be strong up front, and to have good contingencies in place for when your prospects inevitably try to get off the phone early.
When Seth realizes that the doctor isn’t really paying attention, he says something super salesy to try to get the call back on track: “Doc, are you working with a million dollars in the market right now?” While I like the fact that earlier on Seth was focused on “just one idea,” it devolves into a pretty cheesy pitch when he starts talking about a million dollars. But still, I think the latter part of this call is pretty realistic and sounds like a real cold call.
Sales Trainer Reviews Sales Movie Scenes Tip #15: Demonstrate valuable insight.
Moving on, Seth ignores the doctor’s question (“Who is this again?”) by saying the following:
Seth: “Tell me something. You’re a doctor. Have you ever heard of a drug called Phenadryl? It’s being manufactured by MSC pharmaceuticals.”
Seth: “Well, listen, listen. Okay? Listen. It’s in the third stage of FDA approval, all right? Word is, it’s going to be approved within the next three months. And it could be tomorrow for all I know, but I’m getting ahead of myself.”
While this part of the call is a bit cheesy, he’s actually doing some things that I think are really good. It’s so important to demonstrate insight that’s valuable to the prospect when you’re on a cold call. This should really be your top priority. And by talking about this particular stock that’s likely to be of interest to the doctor, Seth is doing a pretty solid job of sharing insight about something of value. I think he succeeds in grabbing the doctor’s attention, and that’s realistic.
Tip #16: Prospects will say anything to get off the phone.
Continuing on, once Seth has gotten the doctor’s attention, he suddenly pulls back:
Seth: “I’m getting ahead of myself and you’re real busy over there. So why don’t I just send you out the information you requested about the firm?”
Doctor: “Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, forget the info. Forget the info. Let’s talk about this now. What was the name of that drug again?”
While I think it’s a little bit early in the call to use this pullback strategy, I love how Seth gets ahead of the doctor potentially trying to get him off the phone here. One incredibly common tactic prospects use to get off the phone is to ask salespeople to “send along some info and I’ll take a look later.” In fact, prospects will say virtually anything to get off the phone with you, so if you have the opportunity to get ahead of what you think they might say, go for it.
Now, the way Seth does this is by employing a strong bluff (i.e., “You’re really busy, so why don’t I just send you the info and we can get off the phone?”) and there’s a very good chance that the doctor will say something like, “Sure, send over the info. I gotta go. Bye.” But instead, in this scenario, it works like a charm and the doctor starts pursuing Seth to continue the call, instead of the other way around.
Just remember that if your prospect says, “Can you just send me the information?” 99 out of 100 times, it’s just a nice way of them saying, “I need to get the heck off the phone, go away.” No one ever wants your info. They just want to get off the phone.
Sales Movie Scenes Tip #17: Avoid unnecessary hand-offs.
Next, instead of answering the doctor’s question about the drug, Seth abruptly changes the course of the phone call:
Seth: “Could you hold on for one second? I’m going to get a senior broker who’s a little more familiar with that particular stock, all right? Hold on a second. Okay? One second.” [Puts doctor on hold and calls for one of the senior brokers to grab the phone.]
This is a really risky move in any type of sales. Transferring to another salesperson, especially this early on in the call, is a bad move. If it’s absolutely necessary to transfer the doctor to a senior broker at some point in the sales process, I would still want Seth to be taking it a bit further on his own before making that transition. This doctor could hang up at any moment. The idea of transferring him feels clunky. Now, this could be realistic for the way brokers operated at that point in time, but I still think it’s poor form as a general sales rule.
When you make a hand-off between salespeople like this, the major risk is, of course, that you’re never going to get that prospect back on the phone ever again.
Sales Movie Scenes Tip #18: Be specific; avoid generalities.
At this point in the scene, Vin Diesel’s character, Chris Varick, one of the senior brokers, grabs the phone and answers it:
Chris: “Hi, Dr. Jacobs. This is Chris Marlin over at J.T. Marlin.” [He lies about his name to sound higher up.]
Chris: “Right. He’s my father. So my associate tells me you’re interested in one of our stocks.”
This is a lost opportunity in real life. This is where you’d want to focus on the specific stock that Seth had been playing up earlier in the call. You wouldn’t ever want to say, “So my associate tells me you’re interested in one of our stocks.” You would focus on the actual stock.
When talking with prospects, always be specific when you can, and avoid generalities that sound like boilerplate sales language. Chris fails at this on both fronts.
Sales Trainer Reviews Sales Movie Scenes Tip #19: Don’t play hardball up front.
Doctor: “It sounds like MSC might be interesting.”
Chris: “Might be? Might be doesn’t sell stock at the rate MSC is going for, Dr. Jacobs. We’re talking very high volume here.”
Doctor: “Well, I still have to run it by my people.”
Chris: “That’s great, doc, if you want to miss yet another opportunity here and watch your colleagues get rich doing clinical trials, then don’t buy a share and hang up the phone.”
Doctor: “Well, hold on a second now, I didn’t say that. I just want to talk about it some more.”
Chris: “Honestly, doc, I don’t have the time. This stock is blowing up right now. The whole firm’s going nuts. Hold on. Let me open up the door to my office. [Room full of brokers starts yelling on cue.] See that doc? That’s my trading floor. Now, I have a million calls to make to a million other doctors who are already in the know. I can’t walk you through this right now. I’m sorry.”
I know what they’re trying to do here, and while it makes for a great movie scene, I don’t think this would work in any real-life selling scenario. This is the ultimate case of playing hardball up front in a sale. Chris has barely been on the phone for a few seconds with the doctor before he starts putting the pressure on, big-time.
The fact is, it’s way too early in the sale to be doing stuff like this. Sure, you could try something like this later on in the sales process, once there’s been some relationship developed and you understand what’s going on in the prospect’s world—but even then it’d be risky. To do this early on as your opening move on a cold call is a super hardcore power move that will end up turning off the vast majority of prospects.
Keep in mind, also, that when a prospect gives you an objection such as, “I still have to run it by my people,” your reaction should never be to try to steamroll the prospect into backing down, as Chris does here. Instead, it’s time to dig in and find out why they made that statement, asking good questions to figure out where the prospect’s head is at.
Tip #20: Utilize silence to your advantage.
After making his hardcore sales push, Chris does something that I absolutely love. He stops talking. And he waits. In total silence.
Chris: [Lets the silence stretch on for several uncomfortable moments.]
Doctor: “Okay. Okay. Let’s do this.”
Silence like this is incredibly powerful in sales. Chris is letting the doctor be silent. There are moments in sales when letting the prospect sit in silence for a few moments, no matter how uncomfortable it may feel, is the only right move. At my own firm, there are certain questions that we ask of prospects, and it’s our rule to remain silent until the prospect answers those questions. We’re literally not allowed to speak until the prospect does.
So utilize silence to your advantage in sales. Don’t break the silence. Let the prospect break the silence.
Sales Trainer Reviews Sales Movie Scenes Tip #21: Don’t be manipulative.
This next part of the call is reminiscent of the hardball sales tactics we saw a little bit earlier:
Chris: “Now, since you’re a new account, I cannot go any higher than 2,000 shares. I’m sorry.”
Doctor: “2000? Are you nuts? That is way beyond what I was thinking. 2,000? Jesus….Listen, I’m curious, why can’t you show me any more than that?”
Chris: “Well, we like to establish a relationship with our clients on something small before we get to the more serious trades. Let me show you several percentage points on this small trade and then we’ll talk about doing future business.”
Doctor: “That sounds good. Give me the 2,000 shares.”
Doctor: “You sure you can’t do any better on this one?”
Chris: “I’m sorry, Dr. Jacobs. I can’t. I’m sorry.”
Doctor: “All right, we’ll start with this trade, then.”
Chris: “Great. I promise we’ll swing for the fences on the next one.”
This move would be so transparent to a prospect nowadays. Here, Chris is selling a stock to a doctor who doesn’t sound particularly savvy about stocks. So maybe this could have worked in real life with that type of prospect. But in general, high-level prospects today are well-informed and savvy, and this type of obvious manipulation just isn’t going to work.
Don’t be sneaky or manipulative like Chris when you sell. There’s no need. Plus, good prospects are going to see right through it. Never assume that your prospects are dumb. You should assume that you’re selling to people who are smart, well-informed decision makers, and that you’re helping them make a good decision.
Sales Movie Scenes Tip #22: Leave the jokes behind.
Next, Chris makes a joke:
Chris: “Do you want that confirmation sent to your office or your mansion?”
Doctor: “Ha. Ha. Very funny, Mr. Marlin.”
This is a really big mistake in sales. Leaves the jokes behind when you sell. Joking tends to be a nervous move for salesperson. And although, in this movie scene, Chris seems to be joking out of confidence rather than nerves, it’s still in poor taste.
Jokes are immediate red flags to a prospect. I would never make a joke with a prospect in that kind of context. It’s a really high-risk move with virtually no upside. There’s nothing about joking around that’s going to help you close the deal. So don’t do it.
Sales Trainer Reviews Sales Movie Scenes Tip #23: Always set a clear next step.
In the last part of the call, Chris says: “Let me put my secretary on and she’ll take down your info. It was a pleasure doing business with you. [Transfers call to secretary, and looks triumphantly at his fellow brokers.] Done and done!”
As I said before, these transfers are risky. Every time you transfer a prospect to a new person, the relationship breaks a little. That doctor could get pulled away in the meantime, or he could just change his mind.
And so you wouldn’t want to transfer this call to the secretary in real life. Instead, you’d want to set a clear next step with the prospect on the phone, right away. Chris doesn’t even have the doctor’s information yet, so transferring him to the secretary is a really thoughtless move.
This goes along with another important point to remember in sales, which is that you should never celebrate the sale before it’s closed. Chris hasn’t truly made the sale yet, and yet he’s already acting as if he has. Think about all of the steps that have to come. There’s going to be some back and forth on paper, a contract signed, money transferred into an account. There are a lot of steps. So the single most important thing at the end of every call is to set a clear next step. That’s all.
So, there you have it. Now you’ve seen how one expert sales trainer reviews sales movie scenes, from Tommy Boy to Boiler Room. Which of these insights did you find most useful for your own sales process? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section to join the conversation.
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About the Author Marc Wayshak
Marc is is the best-selling author of three books on sales and leadership, including the highly acclaimed titles Game Plan Selling, The High-Velocity Sales Organization and his forthcoming book, Sales Conversations, Mastered.
Marc is a contributor to Inc, HubSpot, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Huffington Post Business. He also hosts a popular YouTube channel on sales strategy with over 103,000 subscribers.
Marc helps thousands of people his data-driven, science-based approach to selling that utilizes all the best tools available to sales organizations today.