Since the inception of the motion picture in the late 1800s, countless films have been created around the globe on almost every subject imaginable. Curious to get a feel for what life was like for 18th century Irish aristocracy? There’s a film for that. In the mood to be thrilled by a story of love, deception, and murder? Look no further. Interested in a film that can shape the way you think about sales and marketing? Well, those subjects are no strangers to the industry either, and the following is a list of a few films we consider “must-see” sales and marketing cinema.
Based on a true story, Will Smith plays the title role of Chris Gardner, a man who invests heavily in a product that doesn’t sell, and as he struggles to find his way loses his wife and home, and is forced to live on the streets at times with his young son. Desperate to find a steady job, he takes on a job as a stockbroker, but before he can receive pay, he needs to go through 6 months of training. This inspirational film is a great example of how persistence pays off, and also how to network.
In what is widely considered comedian Chris Farley’s most endearing film role, Tommy Boy is the story of Tommy Callahan, the inexperienced owner of an auto parts business who finds himself in charge of the ailing company’s entire operations after his father’s sudden death. Thrust into the role of clueless boss, the only hope Tommy has of saving his company is to go on the road and sell a line of new brake pads the old-fashioned way, face to face with the customer, just like his father used to.
Despite its light-hearted tone and slapstick comedy, Tommy Boy is a great sales movie. Every sales professional knows the frustration of trying to sell and then one day, the light bulb goes on and they “get it.” In relation to sales and marketing, that’s exactly what Tommy Boy is about.
Boiler Room follows the story of Seth Davis, the owner of a small-time illegal gambling operation, who trades in that job to join an illegal brokerage operation. The film is set in the late 1990s, and explores the get-rich-quick mentality that permeated the world of finance and sales at the time. The film’s mantra is to “Act as if”. Act as if you can afford the big house, the exotic car, and you’ll make your way. At times this movie feels like an homage to Wall Street, yet stands out for some unforgettable moments, including the cutthroat cold calls perpetrated by its characters.
At the heart of Oliver Stone’s 1987 film Wall Street is a story of morality amidst capitalism, and remains widely considered to be one of the most realistic films about finance and business. The film follows unscrupulous money manager Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) as he becomes a mentor to the ambitious young stockbroker Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen), and leads him down a path of greed and corruption through the world of insider trading. The lesson here is simple, and can be applied to any aspect of business: greed isn’t good.
“Always be closing.” Those are the iconic words that describe the tone and scene of this 1992 classic, which centers around four real estate salesmen doing everything they can to save their livelihoods after a representative from the corporate office blows into town to deliver a simple message: “The bad news is you’re all fired; the good news is you’ve got one week to regain your job.”
An amazing cast delivering some of the best performances of their careers helps propel this film beyond its sparse, almost stage-like settings. Every salesperson, no matter your industry, can find a relatable moment or character in what must surely be considered among the top films centered in the sales and marketing world.
Don’t see your favorite sales and marketing themed movie on this list? Be sure to comment!