Glengarry Glen Ross got it partly right, but ABC is dead.


One of my favourite scenes from any non Star Wars movie is  Alec Baldwin inspiring the sales people in Glengarry Glen Ross.

If you need a refresher, watch it here – warning some language is Not Safe for HOME!

Blake espouses two theories of sales:

Always Be Closing


Attention Interest Decision Action

Glengarry Glen Ross is a Pulitzer prize winning play written by David Mamet and reflects the sales thinking of the early 1980’s. Historically successful sales tactics have been “close close close”. Trial closes (“If I, will you?”) and pressure tactics of wearing down the prospect have been Sales 101 since the invention of money.

The theory is that through many small commitments, the prospect will find it easier to give the final big commitment and “sign on the line that is dotted”. (Haven’t watched the video yet?)

Trouble is, people in the 21st century have access to so much more information than anyone else, ever. Your prospect is better informed, better educated and knows exactly what you are bringing to the table. In business your prospect may well have bought more frequently than you’ve sold. They’re better at it and know the rules of the game before you start talking.

Furthermore in these days of consumer protection, corporate watchdogs and, you know, ethics, high pressure sales tactics that do result in sales can easily be overturned and annulled.

But what’s the alternative? Sales is a numbers game. We have to get in front of the prospects and stalk them with follow up calls, trial closing and reminders until they either buy, change companies or call the police.

There is an alternative, and the other side of Blake’s talk mentions it but doesn’t focus long enough:

Attention Interest Decision Action


Your prospect is bored. They already know what they know. They think they know what you’re going to say. The only way to make this sale happen is to grab and hold their attention. Shock them out of the mundane mode they expect to be in. Grab them (figuratively) in both hands and say “listen, pay attention and I will surprise you”.


Break the cycle. Don’t trial close. In fact, don’t close at all. Get in, get the facts out, present their problems and your solution to those problems. Talk about competitors and why they’re not good. Don’t give away all the ingredients to your magic recipe. Keep them hanging…


If the prospect wants what you have, then they need to make the decision. Don’t beg. Don’t be needy. The prospect is taking up your valuable time and if they’re not going to buy, you have hundreds of other prospects who will. Stop wasting your time. “you close, or you hit the bricks”. (really, watch the video).


Delays kill the sales process. The prospect has committed and wants to move to the next step, now. Make sure your internal processes don’t put the brakes on. Remember, your market is crowded with competitors and a buyer’s next move is often to think “have I made the right decision?”. And google will generate 56,000 reasons in 0.29 seconds as to why they haven’t.

So, if you want to drink coffee, because “coffee is for closers”, take a fresh look at your sales tactics. Are you a 1980’s salesperson taking on 21st century consumers, or are you going to shake it up and fight the battle on your own turf?

Further reading:

Once you’ve watched Glengarry Glen Ross, take a look at Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff. A brilliant, fresh sales book that, at the very least will keep you entertained, and just might make you take a new look at the sales process.

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