alec baldwin

Always Be Closing – How?

If you’ve ever had anything to do with sales, then you’re likely familiar with Alec Baldwin’s famous scene from the film, “Glen Gary, Glen Ross.” If you’re not familiar, and you haven’t seen it, just stop right now and watch it. Easily one of the best uses of seven minutes you’ll ever have in your life. Just click here. You’re welcome. 

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In the scene, our dapper and dashing hero (who’s with us from Mitch & Murray) excoriates the all-star cast, extolling the virtues of ABC and AIDA. ABC, of course, is short hand for “Always Be Closing.” Closing, also being a salesman’s ultimate goal.

Because only one thing counts in this life: Get them to sign on the line which is dotted

Always be closing means: Everything you do, every handshake, door opening, please & thank you, sales pitch, head nod of understanding, all of it, is done for one purpose: TO CLOSE THEM. Get them to sign. Car salesmen understand this better than most and they have a secret expression they teach to new recruits: “The feel of the wheel, will seal the deal.” Part of the reason they’re always trying to start out with a test drive as quickly as possible is because they know emotion will take over. “I look so good behind the wheel, oh wow, feel how she handles? This is WAY better than my car.” 

A lot of lip service is paid to closing. Every single manager I’ve come across in the past 15 years has used the word and the majority have done so incorrectly – or at least incompletely. Everyone knows it’s important and thus can’t be avoided – but few spend their time or resources teaching how to do it better or studying their technique. And for one important reason…

Because Closing is where winning and losing happen. Closing is the final arbitrator: you either got the sale or you didn’t. You’ve gone all-in and the cards are turned up – did you make your flush? 

Most people avoid losing. Certainly more than they pursue winning. Given the choice, better to not really push it to a decision, right? I mean, if it’s going to happen, it’ll happen on its own, right? That’s garbage thinking.

Everything we do speaks, as my illustrious co-worker told me recently. Everything we do should be in the service of doing our jobs, whatever they be, as well as we can. My job is chiefly focused on sales (55%) and more importantly, the success of the 15 sales people that report up to me. How do I help them execute like a black-hooded-hatchet-man? 

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Closing means asking questions. It means caring enough about the client to want to solve their problem, even if the solution isn’t your product or service. It means valuing your clients’ time, attention, and trust. Closing is vowing to maximize each interaction, using every word and gesture to build a rapport so you can solve the mystery of what they need and how you can help them find it. If it happens to be your product/service, great! If not, that’s fine too! They’ve ostensibly come to you because you’re an expert and they’re in need of your knowledge – that’s a sacred trust and should be respected. 

These are the things we need to breakdown for our teams. We need to get to the “WHY” of what we do. We need to make plain and clear that we’re here to solve problems, to solve mysteries, and to create relationships. Any person or team who can deliver those three things will find no shortage of success. 

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“Be Confident”… why didn’t I think of that?

A friend recently posted a very nice Facebook update that read something akin to “Be Confident. Be Fierce. Be Rad.”

Confidence

Ok, she didn’t actually say “Be rad” but that would have been a nice touch.

As I was in an introspective place when I read it, I thought “Oh, why didn’t I think of that? I’m going to be confident today! Psssshhh.” As though confidence is a thing you decide to do vs. a thing you either are or aren’t. Try: “Be experienced today” and see how far you get. Confidence, like experience, is a thing that once obtained tends to become a part of you. Before you blow me up here, I know there are a myriad of exceptions and confidence can be lost – but just go with me on this one.

Working in Student Housing, one of the hardest things to do is to get College Student Leasing Specialists to be confident in the selling process. To most people, sales is a filthy, perverse word readily eliciting the image of a car salesman wearing tweed and twirling his waxed mustache, like some silent-film-era-villain, while he forces some damsel into purchasing a Jetta at 13.9% interest – with an extended warranty. Terrible things, no doubt.

So before I can tell them to “Ask for the sale! Close EVERY lease!” (read: Be Confident) and do my best Alec Baldwin impression from “Glenngary Glen Ross” I need to build their confidence. There are multiple ways of doing this but I have my favorites that tend to resonate with everyone.

Often I’ll ask them to tell me about their last big purchase. Inevitably this is a laptop. When I ask them how they decided which one to buy from the endless sea of choices they’ll inform me that they went into a Best Buy and told the person what they wanted and that person told them which was right for them. VOILA! SUCCESS! Could it really be that easy? 

You want confidence? Here it is: These people are coming to you because you are that person! You’re the expert! People buy things from people who they believe know more than them on the subject and have the solution to their problem! Your prospective Residents WANT YOU TO ASK THEM TO SIGN A LEASE! They may not consciously know it, but they want to be told. A guy doesn’t walk on the lot lest he wants to buy.

Alec Baldwin - "Second prize is a set of steak knives"

So true Alec. So true. 

Often, after this exchange, confidence levels soar as our Leasing people understand their role in a new light, and their own capabilities. The frame changes from, “can I ask someone to sign a $10k lease after 45 minutes of meeting them?” to “can I attempt to solve someone’s problem that is looking to me to do just that?”

p.s. 2nd prize is a set of steak knives. 

Instead of imploring someone to be “something”, can you help to actually make them “something”? Can you offer a quote, a perspective, a new way of looking at things that helps make them; confident, proud, assertive, aware, concerned, involved – or any other adjective?