Finlay James

The most iconic sales pitches on screen

The most iconic sales pitches on screen

On screen the sales profession gets a hard time. We sales reps are stereotypically portrayed as bolshy, arrogant, aggressive, sneaky and down right rude (not to mention foul mouthed!) However, I’ve also seen some excellent scenes where the sales man or woman is a true visionary, down to earth, funny, oozing emotional intelligence and generally speaking the truth.

Either way, I thought it would be fun to compile a list of some of the most iconic sales pitches on screen (both TV and film) – whether they’re good, bad or just plain ugly! #LifesAPitch

Glengarry Glen Ross 1992

This is what I mean by just plain ugly – a foul mouthed and riled up Alec Baldwin is laying down the law to a bunch of scared looking sales reps. Imagine if this was your sales director. He walks in to the office in the morning, sees you pouring a cup of coffee and bellows “coffee is for closers!” at you. I’m glad he’s not my boss!

Pirates of Silicon Valley 1999

You might not think this pitch particularly iconic but it had a huge impact on the development of the personal computer. In this particular scene Gates is meeting with the big guns at IBM and tells them to compete head on with Apple they need to purchase the Disk Operating System (DOS), which Gates and co don’t actually have. Not usually a good idea to base a pitch on a product you don’t even have! Gates still manages to close them though – kudos.

Mad Men – Don Draper

I’ve included two of Don Draper’s best pitches here. The first, “the smoking pitch” shows Don’s talent for finding creative solutions to problems. If there’s one thing sales professionals can learn from a creative director like Don, it’s how to pitch with emotion and think laterally.

 The second, the “Don Draper wants it all pitch” is how you want your sales team to be. Hungry for business. Ambitious. Driven. Don is no quitter (especially when it comes to bad habits but that’s another story!)

Boiler Room 2000

So if that previous clip was the dream sales professional attitude, this is the worst, by which I mean some pretty lousy cold calling! However, protagonist Seth Davis soon shows us how it’s done and it’s pretty clear there’s a skill to selling over the phone. Or, conversation is an art.

The Big Kahuna 2000

I love this clip! Danny DeVito telling it like it is, explaining how important it is for a sales professional to relate to their customer and talk to them on their level. Never preach.

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard 2009

Here we have Don Ready selling to the stewardess his right to smoke on a plane (by the way I haven’t intentionally selected a smoking theme for this blog). He goes a bit overboard on the whole American history thing but he soon has the attention of all the passengers, who applaud him at the end. I mean, have you ever got a round of applause after a pitch? I haven’t (yet….)

The Pursuit Of Happiness

“I realised that by not hanging up the phone I gained another 8 minutes a day” says Will Smith here. I’m sure a lot of sales professionals can relate to this time-poor mindset where you’ll do anything to get through those call sheets and hit your number – like not drinking anything all day so you don’t have to waste time going to the toilet. But I also chose this clip because it shows the satisfaction of finally getting a yes instead of a no from a prospect. Don’t give up!