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Origin of ‘Always Be Closing’

What did David Mamet mean when he wrote “Always Be Closing?” It has become a mantra for corporate America.

Children and successful business men have more in common than you may think. One of the first few things they learn in their formative years of life as a child or a businessman are their ABCs. "A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Always be closing, always be closing." These words, spoken by the character played by Alec Baldwin in the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross, based off of the play of the same name written by David Mamet, was hardly a new idea when it was quoted in the movie. Always Be Closing is a mantra that is commonly used to teach those who are new to sales. But the repetition of this ideal doesn't stop at the learning process. Always Be Closing is a business rule that is used over and over for the duration of a salesman's career. The phrase has been used for decades when instructing salespeople to build careers and maintaining a goal when in a business setting and is one of many terms in the business lingo.

Learn Your ABCs

But phrases such as these are not uncommon in the business world. Take Wall Street for example. The terms Bear, Bull and Pig refer to the status of the market at a specific time. The bears of the stock market are investors who believe that a particular security or market are headed downwards but intend to make a profit. The bull market refers to a market that is on the rise, but since everything can not stay that way forever, they are a dangerous market to get involved in. Pig refers to the investor that will hold onto an investment even after a substantial movement in the hope that the investment will provide even greater gain. Many of these terms are used only in business settings on the trading floor among the professionals, but terms like these and Always Be Closing are usually only transferred among those in the business.

Learn more Business Lingo here.

Always Be Closing means that everything you say and do in the course of a sales pitch should be done with one goal in mind: closing the deal. If after all that work, the deal isn't closed than all the effort you just exerted was in vain, so each action should bring you closer to this ideal end. If you don't close on the first try, then subsequent attempts are almost always futile, so the goal must be achieved immediately. If newer sales people aren't taught to Always Be Closing, they will often present the benefits of a product or service to the customer but not actually ask for the order. In other words, they will make no attempt to directly close the deal. Instead, they expect or wait for the customer to offer to buy and close for them. However, this tactic rarely works. Instead, those new to sales need to learn to answer any objections the customer has and thoroughly answer their questions while restating the benefits of the product.

A is Also for Appearance

The useful phrase refers to more than just the effort of sealing a business deal, though. It also refers to appearance. Every time you meet a new person, you essentially are or aren't closing with them before you even open your mouth. They will judge you instantly on your appearance in terms of clothes, manner and organization and will instantly decide whether or not they like you and the products or ideas you are selling. Therefore, even before you get to work you need to prepare to Always Be Closing by looking professional and preparing a positive and experienced attitude for the day. The close is not its own event. Instead, it is something that is worked towards continuously throughout your sales pitch. You are being evaluated from the second you are seen or heard. The customer is evaluating whether or not to close with you from the get-go, so you must be working towards the close from that same second. Many salesmen take the phrase beyond the workplace and recognize it as a motivational idea as well. Any goal you have in life can be considered a "deal" that you are trying to close. Therefore, every action you make in life should be aimed at achieving a life goal.

Pop Culture Influence

Always Be Closing was made popular outside of the business world by Alec Baldwin in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross. The 1992 movie was adapted from a 1982 play by the same title. The play discusses the struggle to survive in today’s professional world. It tells the story of a group of depraved real estate salesmen struggling to keep their jobs and make a decent living. Their attempts to do so revolve around selling worthless land in Florida. In the film, Alec Baldwin's character, a manager named Blake, visits the office to drum up enthusiasm for the latest sales promotion. Blake is the perfect example of the cutthroat salesperson. He is focused on nothing beyond closing business deals and is condescending towards non-performing employees. He has very strong opinions regarding what it means to be a salesperson. Close business or lose your job.

The salesmen, Shelley Levene, Ricky Roma, Dave Moss, and George Aaronow, are given a strong incentive by Blake to succeed in a sales contest. The prizes? "We're adding a little something to this month's sales contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody want to see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you're fired." There is no room for losers in this dramatically masculine world. Only “closers” will get the good sales leads, and Blake instructs the team on their ABCs-Always Be Closing. There is a lot of pressure to succeed, and a robbery is committed which has unforeseen consequences for all of the characters.

The play and film are named after the two real estate developments that the salesmen are selling, Glengarry Highlands and Glen Ross Farms. The play Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet won the Pulitzer Prize in 1984. It opened on Broadway on March 25, 1984 and closed on February 17, 1985. Five years later, the film was picked-up for production. The film stars Al Pacino as Ricky Roma, Ed Harris as Dave Moss, and Kevin Spacey as John Williamson. All actors took significant pay cuts due to the modest production budget. The film, as well as the play, was well known for its overuse of profanities, and the cast jokingly called it "Death of a Fucking Salesman" on set.

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