The Leads are Weak, you’re Weak?

By Jeremy Blake on September 23, 2021

Many of today’s salespeople know their prospects or they’re engaged in renewals it seems with every passing year the ability, let alone enthusiasm to contact people to buy your products and services is diminishing.

Bob and I are also old enough to remember a time before databases and predictive dialling, salespeople often using just cards to note people who were interested or bought products and services.

Glengarry Glen Ross is for many, and your blogger included, an absolute favourite film. Not just a favourite sales film. But a favourite because the language is so fresh and the situation, the drama the four salespeople people find themselves in is a compelling one.

If you don’t know the story, four real estate salespeople’s jobs are on the line. Two of them can keep their jobs, the winner getting a Cadillac, second place to a set of steak knives, third place - you’re fired!

And as for the cast, you have Al Pacino playing the alpha male Ricky Roma and perhaps the greatest role goes to Jack Lemmon playing Shelley Levene, a salesperson who’s lost his edge and just can’t close anymore.

One scene that doesn’t appear in David Mamet’s stage play but was written specifically for the film features a character known as Blake played by Alec Baldwin who is the sales trainer/motivator who comes to do a speech to the salespeople leaving them in no doubt of their predicament. He reminds them of basic tenets.

“Because only one thing counts in this life.  Get them to sign on the line which is dotted.  You hear me, you “beep” faggots?...  A-B-C. A-always, B-be, C-closing.  Always be closing.  Always be closing.  A-I-D-A.  Attention, interest, decision, action.  Attention; do I have your attention? Interest; are you interested?  I know you are because it’s “beep” or walk.  You close or you hit the bricks.  Decision; have you made your decision for Christ? And action. A-I-D-A; get out there.  You got the prospects comin’ in; you think they came in to get out of the rain? Guy doesn’t walk on the lot unless he wants to buy. Sitting out there waiting to give you their money! Are you gonna take it? Are you man enough to take it?”

The film came out in 1992 and I can’t believe that next year it will be 30 years old already.

If you haven’t seen this film and you’ve had a long career in sales, you will know and feel a number of the things that the salespeople experience. If sales is a newer profession to you, it will act as a some kind of history lesson of what pressured targeted environments used to be like

You think you have it tough now, it really was in the dark ages not many decades ago and if you’re still working somewhere like this then I promise you there are other environments that are far better for you.

In praise of Glengarry Glen Ross is the name of the podcast episode Bob and I have made in which we discuss this film and go into greater detail with some wonderful facts amongst our discussion for those who may be interested.

What is it about this film that so many salespeople plying their trade in the 80s and 90s love?

It’s the language.  It’s the sales manager who is so much less effective than the salespeople themselves.  It’s the lengths people do to make sales.  It’s often been said that salespeople will lie, cheat and steal to get ahead.  The theft that takes place signals the end of a career for one of our salespeople.

That reveal doesn’t come till much closer to the end and it’s worth waiting for.