Glengarry Glenn Ross: Always Be Closing!

For those of you reading from England, I watched this movie the other night on BBC3. Normally this channel’s a bit too ‘yoof’ for me, although the second series of Swiss Toni, and The Smoking Room were both awesome. Really the flick’s a whodunnit, where you get to know the characters for the first half, and what happened surrounding the then crime during the second.

A typical sales office is the setting, peddling property. An Office Manager everyone hates, one on-his-numbers salesrep, two clapped-out wrecks and one bitter underachiever.

For good measure, a superstar million-dollar earner from HQ comes down and reads the riot act. The deliciously dominant Alec Baldwin.

The stick is the sack, the carrot, the “Glengarry Glenn Ross leads”. The best you can get, but only gonna be given to Closers.

The three not selling anything moan about the usual; no support, waste-of-time sales meetings, bad delivery, everyone else’s luck, no defined marketplace, wrong kinds of prospects and no decent leads. Blah blah blah.

Yet several little gems crop up. As in real sales teams, you learn more from how the losers get it wrong, than how the winners get it right! Here’s a few:

  • Don’t think in terms of just what you’re selling with this one deal, think about what you can sell tomorrow to that same customer (‘lifetime values’) – “It’s not 1 car you sell today, it’s 5 over the next 15 years”.
  • When you’re asked a question, ask one back.
  • All stories try to tee up the next but one attack.
  • Don’t be afraid to go for the big order – the prospect can then give you a golden Alternative Close opportunity when the question turns from If, to How Much.
  • All the guys use an ‘urgency call-to-arms’ in their opening spiel on the phone. Apparently, the company President’s in from out of town, the offer can only be held open for another couple of days, tops, or they must catch the midnight flight to Florida.
  • Don’t pussy-foot about. The worst pitches are the ones that don’t come straight to the point.
  • Don’t head off expected ‘nos’ with part of your initial pitch. The prospect may never think of that negative anyway.
  • Don’t be afraid to play the personal card.
  • Credit check prospects out before wasting time on them!
  • You cannot underestimate the extent prolonged front talk can build trust.
  • When you’re hot, you’re hot! One guy gets a huge, impossible to believe order, and when he’s back in the office, the first thing he says is “give me the top leads – I want more leads”. What a great attitude.
  • People in a salesy environment always talk too much. As Ricky Roma (Al Pacino) said, “you never open your mouth until you know what the shot is”!
  • Mr “$970,000”, Mr “My watch is worth more than your car”, (Alec Baldwin) reminds the troops to Always Be Closing!
  • His other mantra is AIDA. Aim for “Attention, Interest, Desire & Action.” Then they will “sign on the line that is dotted”.
  • Note what drives salesreps on – the commission did matter, winning the new cadillac had an impact, but far more important was recognition of being great from the sales manager and other salesreps, and ‘being number 1 on the salesboard’.
  • The simple ones are the best – they all used Alternative Closes to get appointments: “say 6 or 8?”, “today at 10 or tomorrow at 8?”

There is reference to a salesrep on another patch who went out and found his own prospects rather than wait for useless leads. As a result he sells to a Target Market (nurses) and pulls in $15K a week! Great lesson there.

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