We all know the saying, “Life imitates art,” and what’s more entertaining than a movie? While some may take issue with referring to the movie Tommy Boy as art, I maintain that it contains some great lessons for sales people.
If you haven’t seen the movie, here’s the synopsis: Chris Farley plays Tommy Callahan Jr., a spoiled loafer who becomes the heir to his father’s auto parts factory. Tommy — who has never sold anything in his life — is suddenly in a position where he needs to sell over 500,000 brake pads in just a few weeks or the company will go bankrupt.
David Spade plays Richard, Tommy’s dad’s right-hand man who is tasked with teaching Tommy how to sell. To prep Tommy for his sales calls, Richard takes Tommy on a sales road trip to help Tommy understand the customer. When Tommy and Richard insist on telling the customer everything about the break pads rather than listening to what the customer needs, they walk away without a sale.
Toward the end of the movie, Tommy has an epiphany when he convinces a waitress to serve him some chicken wings even though the kitchen has already closed. Tommy realized that if he wants to save the company, he’s going to have to listen to the customer, engage in a human approach and get the customer to “buy him, not just break pads.”
To me, Tommy Boy is a great sales movie because it shows that if we focus on customer needs and are able to develop solutions that help solve a problem or help them grow their business, the sales will happen. Tommy Boy is about shifting focus from what we can’t do to focusing on and leveraging what we can do based on customer need.
What’s your favorite sales movie and what are the sales lessons it teaches?