7 Things Salespeople can Learn from Forrest Gump

I read a lot, and I watch a lot of movies, and I always try to take lessons from everything that I put into my head. This last week, I watched for probably the hundredth time, Forrest Gump. But I watched it with a different lens, and what I got out of it is salespeople can learn a lot from Mr. Forrest Gump. That’s what we’re going to talk about today.

What’s up, everybody? You know, I like to read, I love to watch movies, and honestly, I try and take things even though they’re fictitious and make real-life applications out of them. Now, one of my favorite movies of all time is Forrest Gump. I like it for a variety of reasons, but I think there are so many lessons that we can pull out of Forrest Gump as salespeople that we can use every single day. That’s what I wanted to talk to you about today. So today, I’m going to give you seven things that we should learn from Forrest Gump as salespeople. Now, bear with me. I’m hoping this will be entertaining, but also give you some practical things to consider.

Don’t Be Afraid to Talk to Strangers

Reason Number one that you should watch Forrest Gump, and what you can take from it as a salesperson, is Mr. Gump was not afraid to talk to strangers. Now it doesn’t matter if it was his first day riding the bus to school. It doesn’t matter if it was the first time where he met with Jenny when he was on the bus on his way to school. It doesn’t matter if it’s when he went into the military. Forrest Gump made friends because he was not afraid to talk to strangers.

Don’t Make Excuses

The second thing is Forrest Gump didn’t make excuses. Here’s the guy who had a low IQ. He had jacked up spine issues, and you never saw him make an excuse about why he was the way he was. He pushed forward and moved on. Now, if you’re in leadership in your agency, how awesome would it be for you never to hear the excuses about why the business didn’t get done? If you’re a producer, there’s always somebody who has it worse. Don’t make excuses; make sales. Learn from Forrest. This guy had every reason in the world to use excuses, yet he never did.

Do What You’re Told

Following suit with that, the third thing that Forrest Gump did that we can all learn from is straightforward. He did what he was told. I tell people all the time, and I use this exact story. When people say, “David, why is it that you can go out and sell accounts that are 250 to $500 in premium? How did you learn to do that?” And I use the analogy of Forrest Gump every single time. And it’s just like when Forrest went into the army, and he’s in the barracks, building and unbuilding his rifle, and sets the company record, and the drill sergeant comes over and says, “Gump, why did you put that rifle together so fast?” “Because you told me to, Drill Sergeant.”  I don’t know anything different than selling 250 to $500,000 premium accounts, because that’s what I was told to do when I started in the industry. So that’s what I did. Ladies and gentlemen, do not make this more complicated than what it needs to be. Just follow directions. There are a lot of successful people out there who paved the way for you and me. And if we learn from them and we replicate what they do, we don’t have to recreate the wheel. We can figure all of this out on our own.

Tell the Truth

The fourth thing we can learn from Forrest Gump is that he was honest, sometimes to a fault. Whatever he was thinking is what came out of his mouth, but it was never dishonest. It was always right. It doesn’t matter if he drank too much Dr. Pepper at the White House, and he had to tell the president that he had to go to the bathroom, or if he didn’t like somebody that was messing with Jenny, Forrest took care of business. The guy always told the truth. Listen, integrity is paramount in our industry. Sadly, there’s a lot of people who lack it. I say to my kids all the time; you have two choices in everything in life. You can tell the truth or not. If you tell the truth all the time, you’re going to be more respected, and you don’t have to have as good of a memory. Tell the truth, people. Forrest did it, look how it worked out for him.

Do What Say You Will Do

The fifth thing we can learn from Forrest Gump is Forrest Gump kept his word. If he said he was going to do something, you could take it to the bank. Listen, I’m not even going to go after insurance agents here. Talk about any salesperson. How many times have you as a consumer bought something based on the promise of a salesperson only to find out that they weren’t going to honor what they told you? Keep your word in all that you do. I mean, it’s one thing, to tell the truth, it’s a second thing to keep your promises. See, Forrest Gump had character. It’s not difficult to figure out why we can learn seven things from the guy. He did it all right. He did it right because his heart and his mind were pure. Tell the truth and then do what you say you’re going to do. Those things alone will get you light years ahead of your competition in the sales game.

Never Lose Sight of Your Passion

The sixth thing that we can learn from Forrest Gump is that he never lost sight of his passion. Forrest Gump loved Jenny from day one and was passionate about her. Forrest was passionate about their friendship and their relationship.  He never lost sight of that. It drove him in literally everything that he did. If you haven’t found what you’re passionate about, it’s challenging for you to be inspired and motivated. Find your passion, and never lose sight of it. If you can do that, you’re never going to work another day in your life. You’ll be working for your passion, and your goals will be surrounding that passion. And it will never feel like work again.

Leave Your Mark

Number seven, and probably the most important thing that we can learn from Forrest Gump, is that he left his mark on the world. As he sat on the park bench telling his story, people believed him, people didn’t believe him, but at the end of the day, here’s a guy who left his mark on the world and made a difference. What are you doing to leave your mark on the world today? What difference are you making? That’s the question that I have for you.

If you can learn to do the seven things you can learn from Forrest Gump, I don’t even need to tell you. You’re going to kill it in commercial insurance.



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