In 1992, filmgoers were witnesses to the silver screen treatment of the successful and critically acclaimed David Mamet play entitled "Glengarry Glen Ross." Starring Al Pacino, Ed Harris, Jack Lemmon, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey and Alec Baldwin, it’s a compelling, cuss-filled motion picture about the ultra competitive real estate sales industry.
The 100-minute movie consists of one superb eight-minute scene featuring Baldwin portrayed as an egregious, arrogant and affluent salesman who drives an $80,000 BMW, makes nearly $1 million a year and can earn $15,000 in one night with the same materials that the weaker salesmen have.
Although the film has many memorable quotes and monologues, the Baldwin scene is one that is most popular and quoted - on YouTube it has been viewed about five million times. Why? Well, not only because it’s very entertaining, but also the fact that it can provide some advice about the art of selling, a tough racket that any Wily Loman of today would understand.
Most of the lines won’t be listed here because of the overuse of profanity, but they will be somewhat paraphrased. With that being said, here are five things you can learn about sales from Baldwin’s speech in "Glengarry Glen Ross":
1. You Pay Attention When You’re About to be Fired
Every sales firm holds a seminar to teach their staff how to sell effectively. At times, some salespersons will be on the cusp of being given the pink slip for a lack of sales. When you’re on the brink of being without a paycheck or on the unemployment line you will certainly pay attention to both your boss and the prospect who may be interested in buying a house, a vacuum cleaner or a vehicle. Pay careful attention to their words, body language, budget, etc.
2. Get Them to Sign on the Line Which is Dotted
The primary goal for any salesman is to "get them to sign on the line which is dotted." A salesperson’s objective isn’t to make friends, gain the attention of a pretty lady or help the individual find a better deal somewhere else. Without a sale then you risk becoming the next Gil Gunderson.
Always Be Closing (ABC) and Attention, Interest, Decision and Action (AIDA).
These are the two iconic acronyms listed by Baldwin’s character. Any salesperson’s purpose is to always be closing, but they have to first pay attention, show interest, make a decision and perform an action to make a sale. ABC and AIDA should be the mottos any salesman abides by if they wish to make it big in the world of sales.
4. They Didn’t Come in Because of the Weather
Whether it’s a house or a car dealership, one thing is for sure: a person didn’t enter the building because it’s raining outside or it’s too cold. No, they arrived at your place of business to buy something, and every salesperson must realize this first and foremost. By thinking that they aren’t really interested in the property or school will immediately lead to a loss of a sales opportunity.
5. Get Mad & Brass Balls
If you haven’t had any sales for weeks or perhaps months, then it’s time to get mad! If you’re not dissatisfied with your performance or you’re indifferent to the company, then there’s no sympathy for you. Furthermore, it does take "brass balls" to sell anything since it’s a difficult business to be in, whether it’s door-to-door, at a real estate office or in an electronics store. In the end, get mad and get tough.
In the history of motion pictures, there have been many films and scenes depicting the glamorous (or sometimes hellacious) world of sales. From the 1951 screen adaptation of "Death of a Salesman" to the 2000 film "Boiler Room," being involved in sales takes a lot of courage, determination and wits. Perhaps every sales firm should air the famous Baldwin speech from time to time