10 Best Sales Movies In The Last 30 Years

September 19, 2017 by Jasmin Hukić

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Are you considering the career of a salesman? Maybe you’re already into it but feel overwhelmed? Do you think you’re alone in the struggle to close the deals?

If you’re facing this kind of questions, then the movies I’m about to present you will be a real joy for you. They are inspiring and motivational and set in the world of business.

Most of the movies from the list are based on a true story. I ordered them by the year from newest to the oldest in the last 30 years.

Here is my list of the best sales, marketing, and business movies.

#1 The Founder (2016)

Mr. Ray Kroc was selling milkshake machines when he formed a partnership with Dick and Mac Mcdonald. Yes, it’s about the Mcdonalds, but the brothers aren’t those who made the giant company, it was Ray Kroc.

He isn’t hero and isn’t likable guy, but he’ll do whatever it takes to make it. That’s how it is in business. No emotions, no rules. If you think you can strive to the stars with moral breaks, watching this movie will challenge your persuasions.

Except for the business theme, you’ll enjoy Michael Keaton’s performance who played this role to the perfection and got Oscar nominated.

The Founder

Quote from the movie: While you two boys were content to sit back and become a couple of also-rans… I wanna take the future. I wanna win. And you don’t get there by being some “aw shucks” guy sap. There’s no place in business for people like that. Business is war. It’s a dog eat dog, rat eat rat. If my competitor were drowning, I’d walk over and put a hose right in his mouth. Can you say the same?

#2 The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)

Jordan Belfort built an empire from a broker company that started by selling low-rated stocks to ordinary people and taking big provision rate from deals. At the beginning he formed a team of his friends, who were small drug dealers, trusting in their manipulation skills.

Using high-pressure sales tactics, the only thing they need to do was to persuade people to put trust in them. They were doing it by falsely presenting themselves as the highly rated company that no one heard about because they were too exclusive for regular people.

In this movie, you’ll find lots of cheating, stealing, drug taking and other illegal stuff that was highly consumed at the Wall Street. Besides that, the movie clearly points what the sales are all about.

The Wolf of The Wall Street

Quote from the movie: So you listen to me and you listen well. Are you behind on your credit card bills? Good, pick up the phone and start dialing! Is your landlord ready to evict you? Good! Pick up the phone and start dialing! Does your girlfriend think you’re fucking worthless loser? Good! Pick up the phone and start dialing! I want you to deal with your problems by becoming rich!

#3 Moneyball (2011)

Billy Beane is the general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team. He hires a young economics graduate Peter Brand to implement the unpopular strategy of recruiting based on empirical analysis focused on baseball statistics that measure in-game activity – sabermetrics.

It today’s game sabermetrics is widely used as a very effective approach. However, not so long ago, in the late 90’s, for Billy Beane it was a big gambling to invest in something that no one approved. He dared to go the different way and that’s what this film is all about.

Being original often means taking unpopular decisions. But in business, if you’re looking for approve from a big number of people, then you can only achieve average results, at the best. Big things happen only when individuals break the limits. This movie will motivate you to do that.

Moneyball

Quote from the movie: Billy, this is Chad Bradford. He’s a relief pitcher. He is one of the most undervalued players in baseball. His defect is that he throws funny. Nobody in the big leagues cares about him because he looks funny. This guy could be not just the best pitcher in our bullpen, but one of the most effective relief pitchers in all of the baseball. This guy should cost $3 million a year. We can get him for $237,000.

#4 Love & Other Drugs (2010)

Don’t get confused by the title. The movie is based on the memoir Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman, so it’s about sales as much as it is about love. The movie follows a young pharmaceutical sales rep who has become the best Pfizer’s drug seller.

No matter if he has to flirt with nurses, or give all sorts of excitement to doctors and other decision makers he always close the deals. He walks on the edge of moral and ethic principles, but that doesn’t matter as long as he delivers, right?

An attractive charming actor Jake Gyllenhaal portraits a face-to-face sales rep who, whether we like it or not, would be an ideal for any employer.

Love & Other Drugs

Quote from the movie: … “I thought you were the Lisa who was mad at me for not calling”. And, from then on Jennifer, or whatever her name is, will think that I dated a girl who looked just like her… who I rejected. She’ll develop this unconscious need to win my approval and from then on, it’s cake.

#5 Thank You For Smoking (2006)

Nick Taylor is a very successful career lobbyist who is working Academy of Tobacco Studies. Every week he is having a dinner with alcohol and firearm lobbyists and they call themselves MOD (Merchants of Death) squad. They usually argue whose products kill the most.

In his personal life, Nick is divorced, but he loves his son and he wants to be a good role model for him. If that’s not effort to separate life from a career, I don’t know what is.

Of course, this movie is a satire and very good one. It’s very funny and easy to watch. If you are interested in sales, especially in lobbying, you have to watch this movie.

Thank You For Smoking

Quote from the movie: Polly works for the Moderation Council. A casual drinker by the age of 14, Polly quickly developed a tolerance usually reserved for Irish dockworkers. In our world, she’s the woman that got the pope to endorse red wine.

#6 The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

Chris Gardner and his son ended up without a home after several financial breaks. Chris took the offer that was a long-shot gamble for a better life, but he has to live without getting paid for a half of a year.

Imagine that you have to go to work with a suit and tie and charm a filthy rich people and be homeless at the same time, with a five-year-old son. That’s how poor Chris Garner was, and a story about him isn’t fiction, it’s based on a real-life character.

With truly great acting and directing, this movie is very painful and very inspiring at the same time. The focus is on poverty in America, but I like to take the motivational aspect of this movie as a reminder that you need to keep up, no matter the circumstances.

The Pursuit of Happyness

Quote from the movie: The important thing about that freedom train is it’s got to climb mountains. We ALL have to climb mountains, you know. Mountains that go way up high, and mountains that go deep and low.

#7 Lord of War (2005)

Like most of the sales movies, Lord of War is based on a real character. However, you wouldn’t expect that selling weapons requires actual selling skills used in business world. Well, Lord of War movie tells us exactly that.

Just like selling any products and services, an arms dealer needs to find and retain his customers. So, how can he ignore the fact that he is participating in wars and killing all over the world? Simply by reminding himself, from time to time, that he is just supplying the demand.

Personally, I think that Nicholas Cage is in one of his most convincing role here. Enjoy the movie and please try to think about the sales, not the guns and wars.

Lord of War

Quote from the movie: I was an equal opportunity merchant of death. I supplied everyone but the Salvation Army. I sold Israeli-model Uzis to Muslims. I sold Communist-made bullets to Fascists… I even shipped cargo to Afghanistan when they were fighting my fellow Soviets. I never sold to Osama bin Laden. Not on any moral grounds: back then, he was always bouncing checks.

#8 The Big Kahuna (1999)

Phil and Larry are industrial lubricant salesman, colleagues, and friends. With their young co-worker Bob, they went to the convention and host a small party for a client Dick Fuller who can end their carriers or give them a boost.

All scenes are happening in one room, with only four mentioned characters. In their talk, which is basically all they do, the themes include their relationship, philosophy, religion, and art of sales.

Puting this way, some may expect a boring movie. Trust me, it’s not. With the great acting and incredibly intelligent writing, this movie will drag you in. You’ll find lots of stuff about sales here.

The Big Kahuna

Quote from the movie: It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling Jesus or Buddha or civil rights or ‘How to Make Money in Real Estate With No Money Down.’ That doesn’t make you a human being; it makes you a marketing rep.

#9 Jerry Maguire (1996)

At the beginning, we are introduced to Jerry Maguire, a super successful sports agent with a big list of clients where only the number of them and their contracts matters. At one point, he writes a memo where he put that agents should think more about the clients than about the money.

He gets a standing ovation in the office but also gets fired. While he’s walking out of the office an accountant Dorothy, who he barely knew, choose to go with him because she is in love with him. In short time his big list is down to only one client.

Apart from sweet romance story and heartwarming scenes with Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger, there is one important thing to highlight from a business perspective – a personal approach. From sending emails to making calls, personalization always increases the success rate.

Jerry Maguire

Quote from the movie: I am out here for you. You don’t know what it’s like to be ME out here for YOU. It is an up-at-dawn, pride-swallowing siege that I will never fully tell you about, ok?

#10 Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

First of all, pay attention to the cast: Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, Jonathan Pryce. Have you ever seen a group of better actors in a movie? I haven’t.

The story is simple. The real estate office is about to fail. Four agents have to sell something immediately or they will lose their jobs. At the end of the month, the best seller will win a Cadillac, second will win a set of knives and others will be out on the street. The good leads are in manager’s room and will stay there until the contest is finished.

This the best movie to end this list because Glengarry Glen Ross is probably the most realistic sales movie ever. Ironically, unlike the most of the other movies from the list, this is a fiction.

Glengarry Glen Ross

Quote from the movie: …the good news is – you’re fired. The bad news is – you’ve got, all of you’ve got just one week to regain your jobs starting with tonight. Starting with tonight’s sit. Oh? Have I got your attention now? Good.

Do you like suggested movies? Do you think I should expand the list? Share your thoughts.

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