The holiday season is upon us—which means it's a time of gratitude and reflecting on the past year. The same is true in the business world as leadership begins to finalize plans for the new year ahead. For many organizations, it also signals a time of slower operations. Because of that, this can be a tricky time of year as a quarter or even fiscal year end for sales.
If you've ever worked in sales, you know that it is not always an 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. For the days that are tougher, and during slower holiday seasons, we’ve put together a list of a handful of motivational sales stories to bring you some inspiration (along with a list of additional motivational sales articles at the end).
Motivational Sales Stories That Inspire
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. 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.
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!