An effective sales strategy usually starts with a solid pitch. A compelling sales pitch all boils down to captivating your audience and delivering exactly what they want to hear. It requires a perfect blend of authority, charisma, and sometimes even a dash of humor. The stakes are high, and you only have a few precious minutes to capture your customers’ attention. In many ways, it’s like giving a talk—or for the purpose of this blog, a sales TED Talk.
So, what better way to learn about sales than through TED Talks? These engaging videos take only 18 minutes or less. TED Talks feature the crème de la crème of different fields. From scientists, researchers, and technologists to business leaders, artists, designers, and other world experts. They all take center stage to present “ideas worth spreading” designed to drive progress and innovation.
In this blog, we’re running down the top sales TED Talks. These unveil successful sales professionals’ strategies to close deals and hit targets. So, grab some popcorn, dim the lights, and let’s TED Talk and chill!
8 best sales TED Talks and why we recommend them
From decoding the science of consumer behavior to mastering the psychology of persuasion, these talks cover it all. Get ready to be inspired, motivated, and armed with practical tips that will propel your sales efforts to new heights.
Let’s dive into the world of sales excellence with these TED Talks and uncover the secrets to unlocking your full potential. Discover game-changing insights from sales experts and industry leaders as they share invaluable knowledge and strategies to help you elevate your sales game.
We’re starting off with a bit of romance. Jack Vincent, a seasoned sales trainer, starts his talk fittingly with a supposed love story, Harry and Sally’s—their meetcute and subsequent date.
Once he got the audience hooked, Jack strategically shifted gears saying, “This is not the beginning of a love story. This is the beginning of a sale.” His pivot from a love story to a sales narrative is nothing short of brilliant. With this cleverly chosen backdrop, Jack navigates the realms of both romance and sales, leaving the audience intrigued and enticed from the very beginning.
Citing Apple’s huge and loyal brand following, Jack explained that a successful business is about getting customers to love you. This means building trust, sparking interest, and making connections. On the flip side, many sales techniques can also be used in romantic relationships.
Drawing similarities, he emphasized how both are about listening, asking good questions, and solving problems together—a simple yet truly powerful message. In the same vein, he compared maintaining romantic relationships to customer service. Jack believes that much like love, customer service takes patience and should be reciprocal.
With a delightful infusion of humor and personal anecdotes, Jack weaves a compelling narrative that shows how the ‘rules of romance’ are not confined to matters of the heart but are, indeed, the essence of every successful sale.
Who needs to watch this? This talk is best for business executives who want to motivate their salespeople to love their jobs and work hard. After all, these two are fundamentally connected.
“Why do we like what we like?” This is the question that writer Derek Thompson kicked off his sales TED Talk with. The answer? Novelty.
Research shows that “new” is the most used word in ads and marketing campaigns. However, Derek challenges this conventional advertiser formula—revealing that people have a natural preference for familiarity. He explored the mere-exposure effect, illustrating how individuals are inclined to favor new things that they are repeatedly exposed to.
This is where renowned designer Raymond Loewy’s theory MAYA (Most Advanced Yet Acceptable) comes in. Explaining Loewy’s concept, Derek dived deep into the pervasive influence of familiarity across various domains. He encouraged incorporating familiarity into product and marketing strategies, finding the sweet spot between the comfort of the familiar and the excitement of the new. “To sell something familiar, you must make it surprising and to sell something surprising, you must make it familiar.”
From Spotify recommendations and fashion cycles to academic journals and politics, Derek cited real-world examples of balancing familiarity and surprise in designs, understanding others’ familiar beliefs in discussions, and creating spaces that bring together diverse backgrounds.
For Derek, navigating the delicate balance between familiarity and novelty can help people design resonant creations across diverse fields. He advocates for the embrace of familiarity, respecting diverse perspectives, and fostering inclusivity for a more harmonious society.
Ultimately, Derek’s theory about balance goes beyond the sales process. While his talk emphasizes the delicate equilibrium between familiarity and novelty in product development, sales skills, and advertising, the broader application of this theory spans various facets of life.
Who needs to watch this? Marketing professionals who want to sell the same product for more revenue will definitely learn a lot from MAYA and Derek’s talk.
Steve Harrison, a prominent marketing consultant, began with a very amusing anecdote about how he was reeled into selling children’s books door-to-door as a college student. His friend, who sold him on the idea of this summer job, gave him this advice, “Don’t try to sell anybody. You just focus on loving and serving them. And you focus on leaving them a little happier than when you came.” He finished that year as one of the top first-year salespeople.
Drawing from his experience, Steve Harrison explains that everyone has doors, and behind those doors are incredible blessings—sales, funding, advice, connection, and publicity, for instance. But most of us don’t knock because we’re scared. He believes people are afraid of the misconceptions that come with selling, afraid to be tagged as dirty or manipulative. This is why he redefined SELL to mean Sincerely Encourage by Listening and Loving — and for him, that makes all the difference.
This simple four-step method shows how caring for your customers and addressing their needs makes the sale for you. “Focus on being the right person and the world will be so much easier to reach.”
Who needs to watch this? It is recommended for anyone starting out (or interested in starting out) in the sales industry. It will help you understand the core of the sales process.
Dr. Terry Wu’s TED Talk popularized neuromarketing in an entertaining and relatable way. He explains how our unconscious minds play a pivotal role in our decision-making processes. Whether it’s talking about the impact of music on our wine preferences or Google’s choice of font color, Dr. Wu unveils the subtle factors that shape our choices.
He also dives deep into why Coca-Cola’s New Coke campaign failed, discussing how the company lost touch with its market when it focused on the taste instead of the emotional connection with its customers.
Transitioning from his discussion of marketing, Dr. Wu bridged the gap between sales and neuroscience. This revealed that a staggering 95% of our decisions are made unconsciously. He introduced the role of the limbic system and our emotional brain and highlighted the profound impact of emotions on decision-making. He also revealed that 9 out of 10 new products fail, which results in billions wasted due to mindless marketing.
Based on hard science and solid market research, Dr. Wu’s principles are universally applicable, no matter what role you may play in sales and marketing—from a start-up to a Forbes-ranked enterprise.
Who needs to watch this? This one is for the salespeople out there who are also big science buffs and who love hearing about new ideas in this fast-changing world. Get ready to unleash the power of neuroscience in your marketing strategy and sales process!
Patrick Renvoisé is another neuromarketer in our lineup. He describes himself as a French nerd who is passionate about the brain and marketing.
According to Patrick, the fundamental problem with traditional marketing is that marketers ask consumers what they want—but the customers themselves don’t even know what it is they want. Neuromarketing offers a workaround to this by using data and monitoring physiological changes through methods such as facial coding, eye tracking, and voice analysis which are designed to decode what they truly want.
Patrick explained that based on our brain, there are three parts of ourselves:
- instinctual selves (reptilian brain)
- emotional selves (middle brain)
- rational selves (new brain).
Of the three, our instinctual selves have the most influence on our decisions. Patrick then expertly dissects the six stimuli of the reptilian brain—or what he calls the buy button—and gives brilliant advertising examples that appeal to this, without the consumers even knowing it. Truly an engaging and entertaining way to prove his point.
To wrap up his presentation, he translated these six stimuli into four actionable steps. Wanna know what they are? Go ahead and give it a watch to learn more about applied neuromarketing.
Who needs to watch this? If you’re a sales marketer ready to boost your sales by diving into the fascinating world of brain science, you absolutely can’t afford to miss out on this episode!
This entertaining discussion starts with filmmaker Morgan Spurlock sharing a simple social experiment where he asked people and organizations to buy the naming rights to his TED Talk. He did this by going online and encouraging his followers to bid for the rights on eBay.
Taking off from this, he shared another similar project that he worked on but on a much larger scale—a sponsored film about sponsorships specifically created to carry product placements. In a series of video clips, he comically recalled his experience getting shot down by media and advertising giants. Deciding to cut out the middlemen, he went straight to the brands and successfully clinched 17 sponsors.
While making this film, Morgan dived into the influential world of marketing, consulting with both laymen and industry experts to dissect the diverse nuances of brand personality. The film also looked at marketing from a wider lens with global trends such as neuromarketing.
Drawing from his experience making the film—which, by the way, was a success—we can learn lessons about persistence in sales and creativity in marketing and how these two seamlessly blend together.
Who needs to watch this? Anyone who has struggled to process rejection or failure in sales (or even in life) will surely enjoy this TED Talk and learn a thing or two from Morgan’s persistence and ability to think out of the box.
Sales expert Mace Horoff’s point is simple but profound: “If you can entice that special person…to have sex with you, then you can sell.” He believes that anyone can be a good salesperson with the right motivation.
Drawing parallels between intimacy and sales skills, he pointed out the importance of slowing down. He joked that if salespeople skip the foreplay and jump to the main act, “the salespeople will be done before the customers are even warmed up.” He likened this to proceeding with the sale without even generating any customer interest.
Sharing an anecdote about how a friend who struggled with their sales career successfully picked up a date in a bar, Mace explained that a great salesperson needs to seduce their customers by strategically playing the long game. This is how you get them in bed.
Ending his talk, Mace said “If you wanna be a good salesperson, then be a good lover—be passionate, inspire desire, and then amplify the power of those feelings you create.”
Who needs to watch this? Everyone (non-sales people included) is sure to enjoy Mace’s witty observational humor. However, salespeople in the health and medical fields who want to learn directly from Mace can click the link above!
Rana Kordahi, founder and director of The Selling Academy, started by sharing her harrowing experience leaving war-torn Beirut in a boat as a child—and then getting sent back by patrol officers as they attempted to enter the Cyprus border. In this matter of life and death, her father’s inability to build rapport and stay calm endangered his family.
Rana then recalled another instance when they were driving in the city as a family. Her father found himself in a heated situation again. Triggered by road rage, a man went up to their car and pointed a rifle at his father. Only this time, her father was able to remain calm and build rapport.
While Rana admits these are extreme scenarios, she says any situation can be high-stakes, especially if not well-handled. It all boils down to the art of selling and negotiation. She believes regardless of how intelligent, hard-working, or brilliant you are, if you don’t know how to deal and sell, you’re not gonna get ahead in life.
As such, Rana is on a mission to redefine the perception of ‘sales,’ transforming it from a taboo to a hip and embraced concept. Her vision is to have people react with excitement when they hear someone works in sales. She firmly believes that everyone is a salesperson. Beyond selling products and services, we all engage in selling new ideas, thoughts, opinions, and even our personalities. “People buy people.”
Who needs to watch this? This is for all the empowered saleswomen out there. It’s time to occupy space and break glass ceilings!
The TaskDrive team’s favorites
Of course, some of the members of the TaskDrive team also have their favorite sales TED Talks and they’re more than willing to share:
Our CEO Tim Cakir has this to say, “Grit is my favorite quality because it is crucial for achieving any goal, whether it’s in sales or any other aspect of life. With grit, you can reach and achieve your desired destination.”
In this TED Talk, Angela explains that grit is a key predictor of success. Also defined as “passion or perseverance for very long-term goals,” grit is sometimes tagged as more relevant and important than IQ in some contexts like military cadets and yes—salespeople.
Already included in our list above, this TED Talk by Rana Kordahi is our Executive Assistant Ailin’s personal favorite. Ailin shares, “She argues that whether we acknowledge it or not, each one of us is a salesperson. I like how this talk is not just about selling products or services; it’s a deeper dive into how we sell our ideas, thoughts, opinions, and even our personalities on a daily basis. Her family story is really inspiring to me.”
Lyza’s favorite: What Makes a Job “Good” — and the Case for Investing in People | Warren Valdmanis | TED
TaskDrive’s social media manager, Lyza, shares why she loves this particular TED Talk. “It tells us why companies should focus on their employees. The video explains that when companies invest in treating their workers right, offering chances to grow, and giving a sense of purpose, it not only benefits the employees but also leads to success for the company. I like how it suggests that caring about your team is a smart way for a business to thrive, and that just makes sense to me.”
This TED talk tackles a different perspective—on how businesses should start investing in their people because they are essential to growing and scaling.
Widen your perspective with the best sales TED Talks
Everyone can succeed in sales—this is a message that resonates across almost all of our favorite sales TED Talks. However, it takes a lot of hard work to be a great one. Skills alone will not get you there, you will need grit, empathy self confidence, a lot of patience, and a great team to support you.
TaskDrive’s AI-powered virtual assistants, for example, help empower businesses by leveraging advanced AI tools and technology to enhance efficiency. As a result, they can effectively support business growth and sales efforts—so you can focus on other aspects of your business. Reach out to TaskDrive today and let’s explore how our customizable VA services can help take your business to the next level.