Since Peak Sales continuously recruits top performing sales professionals, we thought it might be interesting to put together a list of the 10 best sales movies we’ve seen. If you have any other favorites or have any thoughts on our list, comment them below!
In no particular order, here are Peak’s top 10 sales movies of all-time:
1. The Big Kahuna (1999)
Characters Larry (Kevin Spacey), Phil (Danny DeVito), and Bob Walker (Peter Fancinelli) are novice sales representatives at a struggling industrial lubricant manufacturer. The three spend time at a major convention waiting to make their sales pitch to The Big Kahuna, a prospective customer with the ability to save the company from financial troubles. Devito’s character schools the up and coming sales rep, Bob Walker, on the facts of life.
2. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
This epic movie, starring Alec Baldwin, Jack Lemon, and Al Pacino, follows the story of regional sales reps fighting to save their jobs when their boss announces he will be firing everyone except for the top two salespeople at their New York City real estate firm.
3. Death of a Salesman (1985)
This movie, based on the Pulitzer Prize play, tells the sad story of a salesman at the end of his career. There are many versions including one in 1985 with Dustin Hofman, but this play with Brian Dennehy does a good job of capturing an important scene.
4. Jerry Maquire (1996)
This box office hit (earning over $270 million), starring Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding, and Renée Zellweger, can be quoted by salespeople around the globe with phrases like “Show me the money!” and “Help me, help you”. The movie focuses on a player agent fighting to make money and save his career.
5. The Goods – Live Hard, Sell Hard (2009)
This hilarious movie stars Jeremy Piven, as a hired gun, brought in to save a used car dealership from going under. There are many tongue in cheek sales situations and behind the scenes views on sales life.
6. Cadillac Man (1990)
Here is yet another car sales movie. This one stars Robin Williams, whose character is under a lot of pressure to sell twelve cars or lose his job. In addition, he is facing pressure to pay off his debt to the mafia or face their consequences. This comedy nearly doubled its budget at the box office.
7. Tin Men (1987)
Another Danny Devito film. This time, he and Richard Dreyfus are competing salespeople selling aluminum siding. There are many dirty sales tricks and funny sales room scenes. It’s hard to find scenes from the movie online, but this one shows the top two salespeople obsessing over their fancy cars.
8. Boiler Room (2000)
This star-studded American crime drama about fast talking rip-off artists, conning prospects into buying junk bonds meets our top list of sales movies due to its many great sales scenes, especially those in which sales managers push inside sales reps to sell. The film is inspired by the firm Stratton Oakmont and the life of Jordan Belfort who’s autobiography was later adapted to the big screen in another top sales movie below.
9. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
This blockbuster hit, directed by Matin Scorsese and starring Leonardo Dicaprio and Jonah hill, earned nearly $400 million in the box office. This movie, as mentioned earlier, is based on real life salesperson Jordan Belfort’s rise to riches through scamming people into purchasing junk stock. The film, which emphasizes Belfort’s sales skills, earned 5 nominations at the 86th Academy Awards.
10. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Finally, we have another sales movie based on a true story. This one focuses on the story of salesperson, Chris Gardner, played by Will Smith. The movie follows Gardner’s struggles with being homeless while raising his son and competing for a position as a salesperson at a brokerage firm. The film, which earned over $300 million at the box office, earned Will Smith nominations for an Academy Award and Golden Globe for best actor.
Obviously great B2B salespeople are a unique breed, but what exactly makes them go above and beyond like some of the characters in the movies above? Check out our article, The Traits of Top Sales Performers, to find out.
We have listed our top sales flicks, what are yours? Comment below!
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These are all great movies. Boiler Room and Glengarry are among the best and worst characterization of sales. Unfortunately, many reps I’ve worked with use them as training tools rather than cautionary tales.
This list wouldn’t be complete without
1) Ben Affleck’s slick and slimy tirades in Boiler Room.
2) Gordon Gecko’s “Greed is Good” speech from Wall Street.
3) or Deniro selling a car in Analyze That.
I tried to find Deniro selling knives to a sports store in The Fan – a classic sales call many reps would relate with.
Great additions Peter – thanks and it is shame that not everyone realizes that these aren’t what pros are really like. I guess what makes it funny is that we have seen shades of these situations in real life.
As great and entertaining as these movies are, there is a tendency to portray salespeople as sleazeballs and crooks.
It’s a public perception that I wish could be changed but realize that it won’t happen in my lifetime. But then, I’m old. :>)
A more positive way to view this is that these movies give us something to contrast ourselves with while we go about our jobs is a professional manner.
Agree with you Brian. The movie business certainly likes to create a certain stigma around sales and these should absolutely be used to show how *not* to sell.
Very true. I’ve been looking for sales movies that would help me in my career. It just seems that since the market is flooded with poorly trained and educated sales men and women, who are usually starving and desperate, gives them a more pushy attitude.
I know many great salespeople who are very ethical and true to their customers, and then again I know a fair share of the stereotype.
The Prime Gig is a great sales movie too. You might think of adding a scene from that movie. Awesome clips.
Thanks will have to check it out!
Traveling Man, Used Cars, The Closer, The Hot Spot, Diamond Men, some scenes in Ameican Beauty……..the above mentioned Wall Street also Vince Vaughn and Ed Harris are great in the Prime Gig….. Peter Weller in The New Age….Jeff Bridges in Tucker…..many business movies are all about sales as well…ie Billionaire Boys Club, Barbarians at the Gate, Pirates of Silicon Valley
Morgan you have great taste in movies, please tell me your top 100 i have finally watched your movies mentioned very impressed! all great !! Got any more?
Some great movies in here. Was just telling a friend about Pirates of Silicon Valley the other day – what a story!
Don’t forget Tommy Boy 😉
Haha! I haven’t seen that one. Must check it out. Great list you have on Amazon! Thanks for dropping by.
Great titles, don’t forget two for the money with Al Pacino.
If you really want to see what sales is like, watch the 1969 documentary:
Salesman (by brothers Albert and David Maysles)
It’s real! (i.e documentary) and it follows 4 salesmen as they travel across New England and Southeast Florida trying to sell expensive Bibles door-to-door in low-income neighborhoods and attend a meeting in Chicago.
The film focuses in particular on the struggles of salesman Paul Brennan, a middle-aged Irish-American Roman Catholic from Jamaica Plain, Boston, who struggles to keep up his sales.
Sounds awesome! Thanks for the tip.
Thanks for all these ideas. For a positive role model, how about “The Pursuit of Happyness” with Will Smith?
For individual scenes (and I regret some are about the seedy side of selling) I’ve heard there is a bit about selling bibles door to door in Paper Moon (haven’t seen it, just heard about it.)
One of my favorite “selling” scenes occurs in the movie “Far and Away” where Tom Cruise is “selling” the idea of “freedom” to Nichole Kidman.
We’ve got to give credit to Tom Cruise trying to sell cars in Rain Man !