Are you a businessman? You started your sales but still don’t see any profit? Don’t worry. After reading these stories you can decide what to do. If you are a businessman, you will find the motivation you may need, for the falling times. If you are not a businessman yet you can start a one after you read them.
Maybe you already know this or not, but working in sales is not a very easy game. Anyone in the role will tell you that they love it—but there are some days that you just want to pull your hair out. We collected list of helpful, inspirational and motivational stories for sales. You can read them on a tough day. They will to bring you some inspiration!
Inspirational & True Motivational Stories For Sales
- Daymond John
- John Paul DeJoria
- David Ogilvy
- Mary Kay Ash
- Joe Girard
- Erica Feidner
- Joy Mangano
- Zig Ziglar
- Oprah Winfrey
1. Broke to Billionaire – Daymond John, FUBU Founder & CEO
If you’ve never heard of American Hip Hop brand FUBU, you’ve probably heard of it’s CEO, Daymond John, or have seen him on Shark Tank. However, it’s less likely that you know his background and the origins of his multi-billion dollar company.
Back in the 90s, Daymond was a struggling 20-something with a dream.
This entrepreneur and Shark Tank judge started his first business in elementary school, selling customized pencils to his fellow first-graders. At age 10, his parents divorced and he had to start contributing to the family’s finances.
After barely graduating from high school, he got a job as a waiter at Red Lobster. Meanwhile, his mom taught him how to sew wool caps.
Cap sales got so good John took $100,000 from his mom (who mortgaged her house), eventually quit Red Lobster, and made $350 billion in revenue in six years. The brand has now earned more than $6 billion in sales. John got an opportunity to join the first season of “Shark Tank” in the early 2000s as a judge. He lost $750,000 the first season — but that helped him refine his investing strategy. Now, his businesses make millions of dollars each year. John himself is worth $300 million.
Today, he’s parlayed his style, sales acumen, and some plain old hard work into the organization we all know.
However, he wouldn’t be where he is today without the help of his mother, who taught him to sew and took out a second mortgage on her home to help him get his business off the ground. He also notes that without the assistance of friends from his neighborhood, the products wouldn’t have had sales people when the company first began. His big break came when he sold rapper LL Cool J, who had grown up in the same neighborhood as Daymond, on the idea of wearing one of his hats in a photo—and the rest is history.
Motivational Sales Lesson: It’s okay to rely on the people around you for help. Be that your mentors, friends, or family. If you can’t sell the people closest to you on your ideas or product, then who can you convince to buy your product? Close connections can help you network and provide moral support if you’re struggling.
2. The Incentive of Getting Fired – Christopher Cabrera, Xactly Founder & CEO
This is one of the motivational sales stories Xactly holds close to heart. Before he founded Xactly Corporation in 2005 with Satish Palvai, Christopher Cabrera, worked at a different organization as SVP of operations. He thought there was a strong possibility he was first in line to fill the position when his CEO was ousted after the company’s IPO. But, as fate would have it, the situation turned out very differently.
The board appointed a leader who was firmly set in his ways and wasn’t interested in the quick clip of technological advancements.
When Cabrera approached the CEO with new ideas for the company he didn’t react kindly. A few weeks after their conversation, he was let go. As his resentful feelings faded, they gave way to a former colleague’s inspirational words, and he found his confidence to put all of his effort into what he knew was a great idea. And that’s how Xactly came to be!
Motivational Sales Lesson: Of all our motivational sales stories, this story can teach all of us a lot about being in sales. Looking back, Cabrera confirms that getting sacked was one of the best things that ever happened to him. He learned that disappointment can be extremely motivating and that if you’re too focused on the status quo you miss the opportunity for innovation. Let’s face it: outside your comfort zone is often where you make some of your biggest personal and professional strides.
3. Fall Down 77 times, Stand up 78
Ross Perot, American Business Magnate, Billionaire, Philanthropist, and Politician
Adore or detest his politics, it doesn’t really matter for the point of this story. Ross Perot’s biography includes an incredibly inspiring sales story. According to Sam Wyle, Perot quickly became a top employee at IBM. In fact, one year he fulfilled his annual sales quota in a mere two weeks.
Yet, when he tried to pitch his ideas to supervisors he was largely ignored. This led him to leave IBM in 1962 to found Electronic Data Systems (EDS). To get the business going, he attempted to sell the products to large corporations for his data processing services. “Perot was refused seventy-seven times before he was given his first contract.”
Motivational Sales Lesson: Never give up! You may have been turned down by ten prospects in one day, but that eleventh phone call could be the one that helps you score your biggest deal of the quarter. In Sales, the ability to develop tough skin and pick yourself up after losses or disappointments is critical.
4. Financial Failing to Fortune
Kimra Luna, Online Marketing Webinar Host
A few years ago, Kimra Luna was far from having it all. She was surviving on food stamps and government assistance while trying to provide for her young family. While her financial situation seemed dire, Kimra never stopped working for her dreams of owning a successful business.
She tried a few businesses that while successful, weren’t enough to sustain her family and give her financial freedom. However, these ventures led her to study digital marketing. In no time she was an expert in things like Facebook ads, social media branding, and live blogging.
Soon, Luna began hosting online trainings that offered marketing advice to entrepreneurs. Immediately, she started coaching business owners who wanted her help with marketing coaching. Online marketing webinars became her sole focus and her sole source of income.
According to an insightful Yahoo! finance article, “When she began selling her an online marketing webinar in mid-2014, she reached $10,000 in sales the first week. By year’s end, she earned over $160,000.” Today, Luna has a team and $750,000 in sales annually.
Motivational Sales Story Lesson: Sometimes what’s standing between you and success is the picture of what you think it should look like. Kimra Luna had pictured herself at the helm of a food service business but found success in online marketing. Stay open to new possibilities and you never know what could happen.
5. Living in a Car to Owning Three Private Jets
John Paul DeJoria, Co-founder of Paul Mitchell
In the beginning, John Paul DeJoria ran his business from his car. According to an Entrepreneur article, “DeJoria was born in Los Angeles, a first-generation American. He started out his business life selling Christmas cards and newspapers before he even turned 10.
He also spent time in a gang. The path ahead looked like a disastrous one for DeJoria. But, instead, he created John Paul Mitchell Systems using a $700 loan. He lived out of his car and sold shampoo door to door.”
Motivational Sales Story Lesson: We could all use some of Paul Dejoria’s determination and positivity. This is such a motivational sales story because Dejoria didn’t make any excuses. He easily could have used his homelessness as a reason not to start a business, but he didn’t let anything stop him—and you shouldn’t either.
More Motivational Sales Stories
Motivation is a key factor is sales success. At the basis, your sales commission structures and compensation plans drive rep motivation. It never hurts, however, to have a collection of motivational sales stories that you can tell to inspire reps. Read more motivation sales stories about Xactly’s CEO Chris Cabrera and other sales superstars. Check out the links below!
Motivation is one of the essential ingredients of sales success. When you’re not motivated, you’ll struggle to finish even the most basic tasks, like sending out a batch of prospecting emails or prepping for your upcoming calls. Things that require more attention and energy, like demoing or negotiating? Probably won’t go very well.
If you need an immediate dose of motivation, read the stories of these inspiring salespeople. Like you, they’ve had less-than-spectacular moments. But they kept grinding — and the results speak for themselves.
Who is the Best Salesperson Ever?
2. John Paul DeJoria
John Paul DeJoria is a first-generation American businessman who’s worth more than $4 billion. But when he was growing up in Los Angeles, he “had nothing.”
DeJoria started selling when he was just nine years old. To support his family, he sold Christmas cards door-to-door.
After DeJoria graduated high school, he joined the Navy.
“When I got out of the service in 1964, I didn’t have the money to go to college, so I worked as a salesman for Collier’s Encyclopedia,” DeJoria explains. “I had 10 jobs for the next several years until John Capra, a friend who was an employment counselor, said I should try the beauty industry. He said it didn’t pay much at first, but there was no end to where you could go with it.”
Although DeJoria did extremely well as a hair care sales rep, he was fired for his next two jobs for poor cultural fit.
By 1980, DeJoria was tired of selling other people’s products. He and his friend Paul Mitchell decided to start a business. They had just $700 in the bank. To make ends meet, DeJoria lived in his car. Today, the company brings in more than $1 billion in yearly revenue.
“If you’re prepared (for rejection), you won’t stop after the first few doors get slammed in your face,” he says. “You still need to be as enthusiastic at door #16 as you were at door #1.”
3. David Ogilvy
David Ogilvy dropped out of Oxford in 1931 to become an apprentice chef in Paris. After a year, he went back to his native Scotland and became a door-to-door sales rep for cooking stoves.
He was so good his manager asked him to write a guide to selling the stoves for his coworkers. The manual has since been deemed the best sales instruction manual ever.
Ogilvy’s brother showed the manual to his boss at the ad agency he was working. The agency offered David a job.
He worked six days a week, 12 to 14 hours a day, for seven years — and it paid off. Every account the agency pitched, it won.
Eventually, Ogilvy founded his own ultra-successful agency. He’s now known as the father of advertising.
4. Mary Kay Ash
Mary Kay Ash was a highly successful sales rep known for single-handedly boosting company-wide sales 50% in one year. But in 1963, when a man she’d trained got a promotion instead of her, she quit.
Mary Kay decided to start her own business. With her life savings of $5,000, she launched a skin care company. The business was profitable within months — thanks in large part to Mary Kay’s decision to give her sales reps commission for referring new salespeople.
She also coached her team to avoid high pressure sales tactics. Her consultants added value by showing women how to apply makeup; once women saw the effects, they naturally wanted to buy.
Today, Mary Kay consultants generate more than $2 billion in yearly revenue.
5. Joe Girard
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Joe Girard is the world’s greatest salesperson. He was born in 1928. After dropping out of high school, Girard worked a series of odd jobs, including newsboy, dishwasher, and shoeshine boy.
He wanted a real career. At 35, Girard walked into a car dealership and begged for a job. The manager decided to take a chance — and was quickly rewarded when Girard sold a car on his first day.
Between 1963 and 1977, Girard sold more than 13,000 cars (that’s roughly six per day.) He attributes his success to keeping in regular contact with his customers, remembering small personal details about them, and diligently asking for referrals.
6. Erica Feidner
Erica Feidner, also known as the Piano Matchmaker™, gained worldwide recognition when she was named Steinway & Sons top global sales representative for eight consecutive years. She sold over $41 million dollar’s worth of pianos (costing from $2,000 to $152,000) by adapting her sales approach to match that of each prospect’s location in the buyer’s journey.
Sounds like a pretty normal approach, right? The complexity of this particular journey is that prospects ranged from novices who would have to devote years of practice to be able to use the piano, and experts for whom the piano was a very personal purchase they’d spend a lifetime enjoying.
To match her prospects with the perfect piano, Feidner had them test out different pianos — sometimes located in different parts of the word — until they found one that felt right. “If you cannot tell the difference and thus know which piano is right for you, I haven’t yet succeeded,” Feidner says.
7. Joy Mangano
It all started with the Miracle Mop. Mangano was frustrated by cleaning up after her kids with a traditional, back-breaking mop, and had a better idea. She invested $100,000 of saved and borrowed money into creating her first prototype and manufacturing 100 Miracle Mops. Her first year, she sold around 1000 mops by marketing the invention herself and recruiting her children to help fill orders.
In 1992, Mangano’s big break came when she pitched the Miracle Mop to QVC — and suggested she be the one to sell the product on television. Her first appearance sold 18,000 mops in less than 30 minutes.
More household inventions and millions more Miracle Mops followed, and in 1999, Mangano sold her company, Ingenious Designs, to the Home Shopping Network’s parent company. To date, she’s built an empire worth $3 billion, is still inventing and investing in innovative home gadgets, and stars in the HSN original series, “Meet Joy.”
9. Zig Ziglar
Prolific author, motivational speaker, and business consultant Zig Ziglar is as synonymous with sales as the phrase, “Always Be Selling.” In 1947 he dropped out of college to become a cookware salesman. He excelled and spent the next 20 years working his way up the corporate ladder.
In 1970, he left his lucrative sales job behind in favor of a full-time speaking circuit and writing career. His personal development and sales training company, Ziglar Inc., lives on, “helping people achieve the best in personal and vocational performance.”
Today Ziglar’s best remembered for influencing a quarter of a billion people through his 33 books, including the bestselling “See You at the Top.”
10. Oprah Winfrey
Yep, Oprah is one of the most successful salespeople of all time. Winfrey got her start in radio and television broadcasting. Her first television show, “People Are Talking,” became a hit in 1976, opening the doors to her own morning show, “A.M. Chicago.” Her warm style and expert interview skills drew in more than 100,000 viewers and won her a role in Steven Spielberg’s 1985 film “The Color Purple.”
“The Oprah Winfrey Show” hit televisions nationally in 1986, grossing $125 million by the end of its first year — of which Winfrey received $30 million. Soon, her production company, Harpo Productions, gained ownership of the program from ABC.
In the decades that followed, Winfrey grew her empire with successful book clubs, a magazine, and a media company. In 2009, she ended “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and launched The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). An explosive interview with former cyclist Lance Armstrong put the network on the map, and in 2017 Discovery purchased 24.5% of the company from Winfrey for a reported $70 million.
By building a personal brand based on respect, openness, and business savvy, Winfrey is not only the richest African American of the 20th century, but one of the most influential women of her generation.
Feeling inspired? Get started building your own legacy today. I can’t wait to include you on this list.
Sasindu Jayasri is an Engineering student at Faculty of Engineering, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka.