5 Must See Movie Scenes for Sales People (Including Video)

The following five movie clips are not simply scenes that I like -they have been watched over and over again, forming part of my own private collection of motivational tools. Each one has a different place in my heart, but they are all absolute gold. Some of the content will not be suitable for kids, so viewer discretion is advised!

1. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) – Alec Baldwin Hosts a Sales Meeting:

The sales meeting is the space in which you either discuss the deals you are working on, or are reminded that you have more work to do. This has to be my favourite movie scene of all time. Alec Baldwin’s character delivers the best ‘get your ass in shape’ message I think the big screen has ever seen. What I love about this scene is the body language of the underperformers – they really are the victims. If you have worked in sales, you will have met guys just like them. What I also love about this scene is that the character that Al Pacino plays isn’t even present. Why? Well, he is out having dinner with a prospective client and closing business. By far the best line in Baldwin’s cameo is: “Put the coffee down! Coffee is for closers only!”

2. The Pursuit of Happiness (2006) – Booking the Meeting:

If you are in sales, then it’s a fair assumption that you have made many, many cold calls. It is hard graft, and you have to stay emotionally strong. This clip demonstrates just how hard you need to work, and how a bit of basic maths can show you how to get ahead. Some people may think that the ‘never put the phone down’ approach is maybe a little ‘old school’ and outdated, but I firmly believe that the only substitute for how good you are is how hard you work. When I watched this movie  for the first time, I actually made an audible cheering sound and looked around to see if others were as happy as me… clearly I was the only sales person in the theatre!

3. There Will Be Blood (2007) – I’m an Oil Man:

This is one of my favourite scenes, from one of my favourite movies. This is the scene where Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) is introducing himself to a community of people who have oil on their land. He is clear about who he is, and the added value he can bring to his potential customers. What I also admire about this is the way he presents this value as a story, rather than a stuffy list of benefits and features. Of course, the movie reveals that his intentions were not all good, but nevertheless an amazing pitch!

4. The Wolf of Wall Street – Sales Motivation:

Everybody has had a terrible boss – and while Jordon Belfort could hardly be described as a scrupulously honest man, he was absolutely stellar at getting his troops ready for battle. This clip is a great one to watch first thing in the morning, to prepare yourself for a day of calls. Leonardo DiCaprio’s widely acclaimed character, Jordan, makes it abundantly clear that they will not be dialling themselves, and that the more effort you put in, the greater results you will see. I am not so sure about throwing a gold Rolex at your team though!

5. Tropic Thunder (2008) – The Tom Cruise Dance:
Okay, so this one is just a bit of fun. If you work in sales, you will undoubtedly know what it is like to get rejected. So on those occasions when things DO go your way, it’s time to celebrate! Tom Cruise is hilarious in this scene and portrays an amazing parody of a corporate head, who only cares about money and … flying in a G5!It’s a dog eat dog world out there, and I would love to hear about the movie scenes which inspire and motivate you. Please share some golden sales moments from the silver screen below!

Jordan Belfort (Leonardo Dicaprio) in the Wolf of Wall Street

The Rocket Ship Drawing Rant

Here is something that is going to sound maybe a tad negative, but I promise there is also some positive takeaways, so be patient!

My hope is that this slight rant may help some people who are in the process of trying to attract early stage investors prevent an embarrassing situation. Here it goes…

A friend contacted me a couple of weeks ago and said that he had developed a new app, and was looking for some advice. When we met, he made it clear that he was looking for investment and wanted me to point him in the right direction. I asked to see the app, and he said that it was still in development. When I asked what framework he was using, he looked at me with a blank expression. I asked if the ‘coding’ had begun, and he said that it had not. “So what do you have?” I asked. “The designs” he replied “and they need polishing” he added.

Okay, rant time! …. Let’s be totally clear, designs are not enough (in the real world) to claim you have built something unless the end product is a drawing. Therefore, the app that you claim to have ‘built’ is as real as if I drew a picture of a rocket ship, and expected to use it to fly me and all my friends to the moon.

When you are making/drawing a shiny mock-up, you are not limited by real life. So you can literally do anything without actually thinking about the ‘how’. I promise you that any developer will tell you that the challenges starts with the code, not to mention when you actually take the product market.

I am not saying it’s not a good idea to make shiny mock ups. In fact, making something that looks ‘real’ is a really good way to lock your idea down and get early feedback. However, if you are after investment you need to go a few steps further. As a bare minimum you should have:

1. Software Specification: This is a document that outlines the features of the software and essentially demonstrates how the product will behave. I would also include wireframes to show every part of the user journey has really been thought through.

2. Architectural Overview: If you are not a developer, then you will need one for this part. This document is the ‘how’. You don’t need to write code, but you do need to show that you are actually able to build this ‘rocket ship’ if you had the money. This is also your chance to highlight how you would overcome common failures like over complicated registration processes or poor security standards.

So let me summarise! Showing you have an idea means next to nothing. However showing you have a clear plan to execute the idea makes a huge difference.

I hope this has in some way helped. I would love to hear other people’s stories. Has anyone ever got investment from mockups alone? Leave a comment below.


Bad Exam Results? Startup Entrepreneurs Rise Up!

Today is A-level results day. I am sure there are plenty of people either celebrating or commiserating. If you did well, then great. If not then hopefully I can help put some perspective on the matter.


One thing I remember about when I was at school (94-99) was being told that without qualifications I stood ‘no chance’ in life. My parents were told the same thing, and young adults are still being told this today. Apart from the obvious reason teachers say this (they are targeted on results), they are also likely to have spent their entire lives in the education system, so to accept any other option could devalue the work they have put in.


Personally, I hated school and did not continue into colleage or university. I actually believe that children are forced to learn too quickly, and this puts their relationship with education at risk. My feelings on this mean I lean maybe a little bit towards the far left, so keep this in mind as you read on!


Clearly there are some jobs that absolutely require certain qualifications, and rightfully so as these tend to be jobs where health is involved. Whether that be physical health, mental health or general safety such as a structural engineer.


However, in most other jobs it is about getting your foot in the door and then working hard. The issue is getting your foot in the door.


To do this, you have to be persistent and committed to walking from door to door pestering companies to employ you. Don’t do something passive like send a letter and then hope for a response. If you really want something, go and make it happen. Would you take the same approach if you were waiting for tickets to your favourite sporting event, or music concert? No, you would relentlessly call the ticket office and go and wait in line all night if need be. Look at how many people queue up when an iPhone is released!


I know this sounds mad, but if someone had turned up at E-Tale HQ at 7 am and waited at the doors for me, then demanded that I allow them to give me a presentation on why I should employ them, I would have found them a job even if I was not hiring. This would show a huge demonstration that they have the drive to get up, turn-up and execute a plan. So why not pick 30 companies you would like to work for and try it? Stalk the CEO on Twitter, find out what projects they are working on, contact them and demand a job (politely). Trust me any CEO of a startup company will admire your courage and persistence. If they don’t, then you would not want to work for them anyway.


The truth is that it’s hard to make it through life with or without A-Levels. The myth that the grades alone will get you a job is pure fiction. For me as an employer, I only see qualifications as a demonstration that someone can apply themselves. If they don’t have qualifications, I personally will take any other proof of this. This could be a personal project, charity work, raising children or even writing a book. Look at the founder of dating site ‘Plenty of Fish’. He started that company as something to use on his CV to show he had skills. He sold this company this year for $575 million…. in cash!


I left school and decided university was not for me, for numerous reasons. I went onto set up my own startup company and sold it a few years later. It probably equalled the same amount of stress and hard work that University brings, but it was the right thing for me to do.


So what I am saying here is that qualifications are one factor, but they are not the only factor. If your grades are good, then great. If they are not good then maybe take this as a sign that structured education is not for you and get out and crack on immediately. I promise you that if you look hard enough, you will find plenty of people like me who are always looking for the next startup superstar!



Managing a Team Through an Acquisition

I wanted to write this week about a topic that is pretty much always in the forefront of my mind, and that is my team. While this is going to sound like a total cliché, it is true that you are only as good as your team. If one member is underperforming, then you are underperforming. This is especially true when you are selling your business!

When beginning the process of selling your company, one thing that should not be missed is aligning your team to the desire of the exiting. It goes without saying that your potential buyer will need to feel confident that things are not going to crumble when they become the new owner.

I have seen a number of people sell their companies and within 12 months everything has fallen to pieces! A very common reason for this is that the leadership team lose faith. The reality is that they are now part of a bigger entity, and they have just seen ‘the owners cash out’. So it’s not unreasonable that they will feel somewhat disheartened.  Well, luckily for you, this does not need to be the case. In fact, it is very possible to create an environment that will ensure everyone is not only aligned for the sale, but remain used for years ‘Post Sale’.

Let’s start with sharing the love (Shares)! Giving away shares is very complicated. If you decide just to give shares away to anyone who works for you, you will be in for a big surprise. Owning shares comes with lots of different rights and these rights don’t end with employment. So, if you decide to give a percentage of your company’s shares to someone, they will own these until the end of time. This is not a great methodology to motivate staff as your headcount will change, and if you can’t claim the shares back, you won’t have many left after a few years. So what is the solution?

In the UK, you can use what is called an EMI scheme. This essentially grants key staff a certain amount of shares. Then at the point the company is sold, they can realise the value. If they leave before this happens, then they cannot claim access to the shares. This means only the guys at the finish line get the medals!

Also, they are only required to pay tax based on the share price at the point the shares were granted. So if they work for five years and the shares become worth millions, they will only pay tax on the value of the shares when they received them. If the shares are granted when the company is new, or not making profit, I suggest applying to HMRC to get a certificate to confirm they are worth nothing. This will prevent a potentially ugly tax debate later on.

Read about EMI schemes at the HMRC website by clicking here

This may all sound great, but these shares need to make enough money to motivate the team to share your desired outcome. This means some frank discussions need to take place. Start by agreeing on what the expected valuation is and make sure the shares ‘Make Sense’. If your Sales Director made 100K in his last year and he has 1% of the shares. Then you decide to sell for 1m. They will make 10k! Hardly enough to make him motivated to sell. In fact this is more likely to demotivate them.

As a rule of thumb, I would be aiming to achieve two years of salary as a payout. This amount will always be life changing and motivate that individual to help the company sale go through. Also, keep in mind that if they qualify, they are likely to only pay 10% tax under entrepreneur’s tax relief. In summary, agree on a compelling percentage and the price you are willing to sell for.

Read about entrepreneurs tax relief on the GOV UK website by clicking here

One of the key reasons you need your teams alignment throughout the sale process is how intense DD is likely to be. Unless you are and have been an absolute saint, you are going to need to locate important documents, answer difficult question and attend meeting with your potential buyers. This will be very tough if your team would rather you didn’t sell!

Presuming that all goes well, what about once the company has been sold? In Addition to your team’s normal compensation plan, the ideal situation is to have some kind of performance based bonus structure. Typically, this will be linked to the post sale financial targets. Again, this figure needs to be compelling and ensure that the team will not leave when they are tempted away. Remember that once you sell, this will become public information and your team will be hot property. Headhunters from near and far will be approaching them, and it’s likely they will be able to command a premium now that have been part of a successful acquisition.

In addition, they will have just been given a fair sum of money. This means they are also prime candidates to leave and set up their own businesses, and this presents a huge risk to you.

My guess is that your team are a critical part of your success, so if you plan to continue that success into the acquisition, you will need them by your side.

It is also a good idea to dedicate time to speak with your team post sale on a regular basis to discuss how happy they are and how they feel the integration is going. I know that our team remain extremely tight and communicate almost daily.

Finally, I have learned that life is about sharing success. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing a loyal team buying their new houses, new cars or even just going on a well deserved break. These type of life changing events are what make it all worthwhile. If that wasn’t enough to convince you, think about any future teams that you will want to build. A history of helping others is far more likely to encourage others to join you on your journey, than a track record of only looking after number one!

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Is startup culture a corruption?

I read a news article recently titled ‘Start-up culture is corrupting our youth, and killing real entrepreneurship’ by The Guardian. You can read it here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/11765609/Start-up-culture-is-corrupting-our-youth-and-killing-real-entrepreneurship.html

Coming from the startup world myself, I can agree that there is an element of delusions from some people in the startup community. However, the concept of it corrupting the youth is a bit mad.

One of two things will happen:

1. They will fail and learn it’s not that easy.
2. They will go on to be a success.

As The Guardian states, more than half of today’s youth would ideally want to start their own business. They’re inspired by entrepreneurs before them such as Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. They rush straight out of school or university with what they think is a great idea, without having any backbone behind it. A key lesson we should learn from this is if we want entrepreneurship and startups to thrive, why don’t our schools offer lessons in it?

I disagree that startup or entrepreneurialism is dead, in recent years alone there has been a boom in small businesses starting up. Yes, the notion of what a startup or entrepreneur is may have changed, but if we are comparing it to Richard Branson, he started out nearly 40 years ago. Times are modernising, and we have come a long way since the 1970’s.

This notion that a kid starts an app and then gets the £50m worth of investment that’s needed straight away is also somewhat naive. I think it’s natural that as the big companies get bigger, there is more need for small startups to provide more nimble and innovative technology.

We shouldn’t see startup culture as a corruption but more of a chance for future generations. Some of the greatest inventions and products come from young entrepreneurs, so why are we so quick to judge a culture that everyone may not be so clear on?


Why does Apple feel the need to take over EVERYTHING?

Firstly, I love Apple. I use an iPhone, I love my MacBook Air – However, Apple Music is one step too far for me.

The reason I think this? The music streaming service I love is Spotify and Apple is basically taking their idea, re-branding it and passing it off as something new and original.

Spotify is one of the greatest music services on our market today, but it is also one of the greatest startups ever. Spotify has been around for years and not only offers a subscription service but by partnering with Facebook also offered a free version with adverts included instead.

Spotify for its day and age was a completely original idea and it was a game changer. It has many positives going for it, personalised playlists and the ability to connect with friends and artists who use various platforms whether that be Apple, Microsoft or Android.

Apple have introduced ‘Apple Music’ this year, trying to lure Spotify’s users over to their service with the promise of a three month free trial, then subscribing for £9.99 a month thereafter, which is the same price as Spotify might I add!

Apple Music has certainly had it’s fair share of PR during its launch thanks to Taylor Swift banning her music unless she gained royalties, she also pulled the same stunt with Spotify but they didn’t react to her demands.

I still haven’t seen for myself why Apple Music is so great or how it is any different to Spotify? After all if you’re one of the guys planning to make the switch, you’re giving up all your old playlists, artist and friend connections you may have made and you’re still paying the same price? It just doesn’t make sense!

The basics of Apple Music are also the same as Spotify, they’ve taken the same features and rearranged them. However, Apple Music will be a new learning experience, just like using any new service, they’ve managed to distance themselves just enough from Spotify to show they haven’t completely copied them.

I just don’t understand the sudden hype over a service which has already been around for a number of years under a different name. The only reason I can come up with is because Apple’s name is on it. If Microsoft or Android had introduced this service would it be receiving the same attention? Probably not.

I’d stick with Spotify, it’s never let us down so far and being one of the most successful startups ever, I know it’s a safe, reliable service.


5.5 Tips for Startup Success!

#1. Pay a fair price: Some people say watch the pennies and the pounds look after themselves. Whilst I agree that monitoring business expenses is important, I don’t believe that pushing suppliers into the ground is in your best interest. Not only could you use this negotiation time to meet new clients and make more money, you should also want your suppliers to be successful.

#2. Define success: Everybody talks about success like they know what ‘success’ is. I am always looking to align myself with suppliers, clients, staff and business partners so we all share the same vision of success. I hear many people talk about a: ‘Successful Exit’, but when I ask what this is, they say something very generic like “Errr I don’t know… Maybe 1-5 million in value”. What is even more alarming is when you ask their business partner and they have a completely different number. Defining success, will mean you are really able to focus on the goal of making everyone successful.

#3. Be as accountable for failure as you would be for success: I truly believe that you can’t accept the credit, if you won’t accept the blame. I see this so much in sales people. When we win a deal we say it was because of our strategy and how well we presented, but when we lose the deal we say it was due to market conditions, the time of the year or anything else that shifts the attention away from us. Just say “I lost the deal and it’s my fault”. This may be due to the market conditions, but it admits that you didn’t take that into account when making your proposal.

#4. Don’t always be looking to make ‘a cut’. As you progress through your business life, there will be opportunities to make ‘a cut’ here and there. This could be that a client needs design services and you have a friend you could sub-contract it out to. Unless you are a design agency, then just pass on the lead and introduce two people who can do business together. Focus on what you do and you will make money. Spend your life looking to skim others and it’s likely you will lose focus.

#5. Maintain integrity: In order for long term success, you need to play the long game. Without building credibility and integrity, you will struggle to see long term success. People need to remember that you were the person who did what they said they would do, and not the person who just said yes in order to ‘get the business’. A huge amount of the business I have done over the years is from recommendation. People won’t recommend people easily as they won’t want things to come back on then if things don’t work out.

#5.5. Get a cat: There will be times where you just need someone to listen without them giving an opinion. Cats are best for this in my experience!

This is Sebastian, my rescue cat, who I do often talk to!

This is Sebastian, my rescue cat, who I do often talk to!

Boris backs start-ups!

I tweeted earlier this week (link below) about a fantastic initiative backed by Boris Johnson on supporting startups that will produce technologies, which will help with regenerating London.

The competition encourages entrepreneurs and small businesses to pitch to organisations involved in the regeneration project, their idea must be original and creative enough, to be able to successfully cope with London’s ever growing demands, such as the increasing population.

Ideas already suggested range from smartphone and tablet applications that will aid local people, communities and businesses, giving them the opportunity to interact with one another and also improve their engagement.

The deadline for the competition is today!! So if it is something that interests you, make sure you get your ideas in soon! Sole traders, individuals, public sector bodies, small businesses, academic institutes and large companies are all eligible to pitch their ideas for a chance of winning.

I’m excited to find out the shortlisted options and then the overall winner of the competition, there are so many good start-ups that don’t get the recognition or publicity they deserve. I know from my own experience how hard getting off the ground can be, so dont ignore this opportunity as it could really be the boost you are looking for.

This isn’t the first time Boris has backed technology or start-ups, he’s already pledged £25 million to the ‘London Co-Investment Fund’ which hopes to provide 2,600 new jobs and invest in more than 150 small business in the capital.

Boris speaking in 2014 said that the capitals technology industry was: ”flourishing” and that the city was a “hotbed of talented young and ambitious people buzzing with exciting ideas who are setting up new companies in their droves”.

Hats off to you Boris, you are pushing London in the right direction…