In the competitive financial advice industry, every new business opportunity makes a difference. A prospective client will critically analyze the details of their interactions with you before trusting you with their money. Movies about sales give you a front row view of the methods these characters, both fictional and those based on real people, utilize in the field. I rounded up the top 10 sales movies in cinematic history. Check out some of the movies below and learn from the characters’ big wins and tragic failures to prepare you for your next sales situation.
This 1992 dramatic movie is set in a Chicago real-estate office where four salesmen use whatever tactics they can to make a sale with the leads they are given. The four are ruthless and verbally abuse each other while doing all they can to beat out the other three in sales.
This 1985 Emmy award winning movie stars Dustin Hoffman portraying Willy Loman, who experienced serious financial issues and failed miserably in his life and career and has become senile. Hoffman sells door-to-door and is not able to live out the American Dream.
3. Boiler Room
A 19-year-old college drop-out, Seth Davis, winds up running an unlicensed casino all from his apartment and later works for a brokerage firm doing cold calls to investors to sell stocks. He becomes a senior broker and works for the company even though they are malicious. Davis is later arrested by the FBI and works with them to take down the firm, J.T. Marlin.
4. Tommy Boy
This 1995 comedy follows Thomas “Tommy” Callahann III after his college graduation and his transition into an executive job at Callahan Auto, his family’s auto parts plant. Tommy travels across the country on a sales trip and has a hard time selling to potential buyers. Callahan Auto is later sold to rival company Zalinsky Auto Parts, but the sale does not go through due to fraud and legal issues. Tommy takes over Callahan Auto Parts in the end.
Inspired by a true story, Will Smith portrays Chris Gardner, a San Francisco salesman who was struggling to support him and his 5-year-old son named Christopher. As a single dad, Smith becomes an intern at a well-known stock brokerage firm while still homeless. Smith works his way up and to become a Wall Street legend and top salesperson.
Centered on a 35-year-old sports agent working for Sports Management International (SMI) and faces intense pressure in the sports industry. Maguire has a life changing epiphany and writes a memo to his company that leads to him getting fire. After his separation from the company, he begins his own focuses on working with less clients and producing better results.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays Jamie Randall is a handsome, charming pharmaceutical sales representative and meets Anne Hathaway’s character, Maggie Murdock. All throughout the movie, Randall hustles hard and promotes the drug Zoloft instead of Prozac and gains doctors’ trust and struggles to remain on top of the sales world with increase pressure and competition.
A failing salesman, Tommy Wilhelm’s life begins to fall apart when he loses his job, gets a divorce from his wife and has issues with his father. He later gets a job in New York City thanks to his friend Dr. Tamkin, who has the confidence he can make it as a salesman. Wilhelm works hard to make the best of his situation.
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, this movie was adapted from a memoir by Jordan Belfort which highlights his career as a New York City stockbroker. He later begins his own firm named Stratton Oakmont and bring together a group of talented brokers. Belfort is young and insanely successful except for his numerous run-ins with crime, corruption and the federal government.
10. Tin Men
Based in the early 1960s, this movie is set in Baltimore and centers on Ernest Tilley and Billy “BB” Babowsky who work as door-to-door aluminum siding salesmen. The two work for different companies and are willing to go to any extremes to make a sale. After a car accident, the two fight and scheme to get even with each other. In the end, the Maryland Home Improvement Commission takes over and revokes their licenses.
In this satirical comedy, young and well-known but devious car salesman, Rudy Russo aspires to run for senate. He works at a used car lot, and in a turn of events, he witnesses elderly Luke Fuchs get hit and die. Russo buries the body, which is later discovered by police. In the end, he gets enough money for the campaign but uses it to save the car dealership.
Starring Charlie Sheen plays Bud Fox, an ambitious stockbroker fighting his way to the top. He meets and is mentored by Gordon Gekko who is only driven by greed. Fox watches as Gekko manipulates the market and lives by the motto “greed is good.” Later in the movie, Fox catches Gekko and all his illegal activity on wire and hands it over to the federal authorities.
There you have it – the top 10 sales movies of all time. Please feel free to add your favorites that did not make this list in the comments section.
Shaun Luberski is a Junior Public Relations Associate at Flackable, a national public relations agency supporting the communications needs of registered investment advisors (RIAs) and other forward-thinking financial services firms. To learn more about Flackable, please visit www.flackable.com.