Top 9 Most Influential Salespeople of All Time

User AvatarDiana May-Jennings

The 9 Most Influential Salespeople and How They Can Inspire You

Are you feeling a slump in sales right now? The best way to energize your sales block is by reading peoples success stories. It’s impossible to choose one overall best salesperson in the entire world, so we’ll settle for having several. There are many more where this list came from, but here are 9 of the most influential salesmen and women that you’ve heard of, read about, and possibly even met.

#1 Sam Taggart

A common name in the door to door world, Sam Taggart is an inspiration and teacher to every rep and company in sales. He’s a door knocker, consultant, and author to the door to door sales population. With his forming of the D2D Association and the D2D Experts, Taggart is a household name to anyone involved in sales.

He has made and continues to make countless informative sales videos and has helped sales reps all over the world. There’s no doubt that this sales expert is and will continue to be one of the best salespeople in the world.

#2 Napoleon Barragan

Napoleon Barragan is the perfect example of a salesperson who started small and went big. Born in Ecuador, Barragan began his sales career selling soda pop and beer from a donkey in Colombia during the 1950s. After immigrating to the United States, Barragan led the way in e-commerce with online sales of mattresses in the earliest days of the internet. He started 1-800-Mattress and over time he grew his company into a $170-million-a-year business. Barragan is proof that no matter where you start out, you can become a successful salesperson if you have enough grit and determination to get through the low points.

#3 Joe Girard

Joseph Samuel Girardi, was a classic American salesman. He was most talented in selling cars. Girard sold 13,001 cars at a Chevrolet dealership between 1963 and 1978, and was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the seller of the most cars in a year. Now with his own empire of motivational and inspirational guest speeches, Girard has made selling his life. Even if cars aren’t your product, you can still use his life as a lesson. Girard gave everything he had to break records and to become successful.

#4 Zig Ziglar

Many are familiar with the inspirational words of American author, salesman, and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Mr. Ziglar, he made millions in sales and sales training throughout his lifetime. He has also published self-help books on the topic of sales, recording educational videos and inspired many to up their sales game. Although Mr. Ziglar has passed away, his sales techniques and inspirational words live on.

“A prospect’s nonverbal expressions are often more powerful than words. Fifty-five percent of the prospect’s feelings and attitude are communicated via body language.”

#5 Erica Feidner

Although women are not the majority of the sales profession, there are still women regarded as “Sales Gods” and one of them is Erica Feidner. As a representative for Steinway & Sons Pianos for 8 years, Feidner sold over $41 million dollars in pianos, more than anyone else in her time. This talent for sales earned her nicknames like “The Piano Matchmaker” or “The Lady that Sold $41 Million in Steinways.” She took pride in making sure that she explained exactly what the client needed to know and how to help them understand her product. This is a strong lesson, if your client is confused about your services or what choice is right for them, then you haven’t done your job as a sales rep yet.

“If you cannot tell the difference and thus know which piano is right for you, I haven’t yet succeeded.”

#6 Jordan Belfort aka “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Another big player in the D2D world is entrepreneur Jordan Belfort, or more commonly known as the Wolf of Wall Street. Having a movie created to tell his life story is only part of what makes him one of the most influential sales people ever. Belfort also has popular social media platforms like Youtube and Podcasts to help educate his listeners on his sales experiences and advice.

#7 Mary Kay Ash

Another pioneer for women in business was Mary Kay Ash. She made her beginning selling Stanley Home Products to everyday people in hosting parties. Working from her humble beginnings, Ash was eventually known for creating a cosmetics empire: Mary Kay. Although she didn’t have much to begin with and she isn’t your conventional salesperson, Ash has created a company that produces over $3 billion a year in sales with over 5,000 employees.

#8 John H. Patterson

Traveling back further in time, we come to John H. Patterson, known as the “Father of Sales and Innovation.” Patterson was the first person to create a system for value. He gained control of the failing National Manufacturing Company, creator of the cash register, and turned their product into something everyone wanted and should have for their business. Before Patterson, people didn’t see the value in having a cash register, but he had the vision to make it a sought after and necessary product for every business in the 1800’s to modern day.

#9 Ron Popeil

The American inventor and marketing personality, Ron Popeil, made a modest start in the world. He was born to a big family and didn’t have much, but his sales-like personality and inventive nature helped him create an empire known as Ronco. Along with his success in inventions and marketing, he began the infomercial craze and coined the phrase: “But wait, there’s more!” (now we know who to blame when that gets stuck in your head). However he wasn’t just known for inventing products and making catchy phrases, he also published sales books detailing the framework for his success and what made him the “Salesman of the Century.” His success has since taken off and created a name worth roughly $200 million dollars still to this day.

It’s Your Turn

What’s stopping your name from being on that list? These salespeople were not born famous, they worked hard for their prestige. There’s a lesson in every one of these stories that has a different but equally important lesson how to become the best version of yourself in sales.

Know anyone that we missed? Let us know!

4 thoughts on “Top 9 Most Influential Salespeople of All Time

  1. Met Zig Ziglar who many years ago sold Pots & Pans and learned his technique and was extremely successful

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