Valuable Sales Tools > Trite Sales Mantras

Who can forget the epic monologue delivered by a young Alec Baldwin in the film version of Mamet’s classic “Glengarry Glen Ross,” a seminal commentary on the sales world of the mid-1980s. The arrogant sales consultant (Baldwin) spits out tag lines like “Coffee is for closers” and “Always Be Closing!” while Ed Harris and Jack Lemmon sit nearby, chastised and dejected. But these scenes really underscore what the drama is about – essentially, how to motivate people to sell. So, how can we best conceptualize these themes in today’s world of selling?

ABC Chalkboard

First, we should jump back to 2013, and perhaps earlier. Using existing data to enrich customer information is now one of the biggest resources to hit the sales floor. It’s part of a data revolution that is sweeping the entire business world, not just sales.

In the classic GGGR scenario, the harried sales veterans who blamed poor conversions on bad leads wouldn’t complain about lists of targeted prospects who have a greater chance of buying what they’re selling. It’s obvious that doing more with data gives salespeople an edge.

Luckily, today’s sales manager has been able to give up on belittlement and fear-inspired competition. Forceful leadership may draw attention—picture an angry coach feeling helpless on the sidelines of his pro team’s important game—but motivating and empowering a sales force takes more effective inspiration.

Traditional, harsh strategies will not accomplish what they would have in the 1980s, when sales had fewer options. Reps who are not dealing with a personal-finance dilemma (Lemmon) or a narcissistic disorder (Al Pacino) are likely to walk off the job when faced with an irate manager. Gone are the days when sales reps are treated like gladiators in a down cycle.

Part of the solution to the “Always Be Closing” mindset lies in reversing the mantra of “Coffee is for closers.” Maybe cake is still for closers, but effective sales people need coffee (read: fuel) to keep closing deals. Ultimately, things like building more complete prospect and customer profiles can help sales teams achieve their goals. If we teach our sales teams to use the tools that are available to them, rather than merely reactively managing our teams based on a win or a loss, then we will be vastly better prepared to meet our goals with open arms instead of clinched fists.

It’s been said that the sales leadership of our time boasts an iterative approach—it’s not sink-or-swim. In that regard, the newest mantra is “Always Be Coaching.” And it’s a win-win.

Although the holidays are officially past, have a look at Glengarry Glen Ross, as revived on SNL’s 2005 Christmas Special.