Home > Personal Selling > The salesmen in Boiler Room and Glengarry Glen Ross. Everyone's thoughts?

The salesmen in Boiler Room and Glengarry Glen Ross. Everyone's thoughts?

I recently watched Boiler Room and Glengarry Glen Ross. What does everyone think about 'ABC' or 'Always Be Closing'? Making the decision for the customer by making yourself an authority and giving them limited options in their mind? Is it okay to be like Blake (Alec Baldwin's character? Does anyone here believe that they can be whoever they like on the phone?


Is there anyone here who is opposed to EVERYTHING these films depict?


I recently had a job as a telemarketer where the script pretty much made the decisions for the people we cold called. It was really suggestive. Rather aggressive. Didn't like it. I'm wondering if this is really what sells stuff. Or rather if it's the only way to do it. - by alwaysclosing
Blake is a scumbag and it's unfortunate that those parasites exist in selling.

ABC (Always be closing) is nonsense taught by unqualified sales "trainers."

Having seen the movie I can tell you it thoroughly represents things I am opposed to.

NO--it's not what sells stuff. - by Gary A Boye
IMO, person selling is centered on rendering service to buyers. Neither of the movies you mentioned shared that perspective. - by Jeff Blackwell
Meh. Some of the phone techniques in Boiler Room aren't terrible. I work in inbound telesales and some of their techniques are useful plus the movie makes it very clear that much of sales has to do with confidence and making every call count.

GGGR on the other hand is obvi completely scummy but I do like Al Pacino's sale that he makes to the guy in the bar. It's awesome how he builds rapport and just slides the sale in after hours of seemingly unrelated conversation. His strategy is just really a work of sales art. - by Crankfueled
The Pacino character uses CONVERSATION to get into the prospect's head. He gets there by trajectory if you recall.

The battle is always for the mind of the prospect. It was written and portrayed brilliantly. - by Gary A Boye
Right that's exactly what I meant. The conversation appearing unrelated was in fact very well calculated. I thought the movie did well portraying the various types of sales people. Of course the vast majority of them were blaming the "leads" for their shoddy performance and never themselves.

That's the worst part of my job when someone tells me they are getting bad calls and that's why they can't sell... I have a hard time not telling them that we all get the same calls kid.... and I seem to be doing just fine. - by Crankfueled
Sure but there are guys out there like Blake who sell and make a lot of money. Why do you think this type of salesperson does well? - by salesjunior
I think JonVoris answered this question for me in another thread. In fact there is a guy I work with much like Blake, a mean spirited bully, ruthless but very successful. I guess this leads me to another question, is empathy necessary for success in sales? - by salesjunior
The character Blake was never depicted as a salesperson in that movie. He represented a straw boss in a $500 suit, riding on the backs of a bunch of downtrodden dray horses. If you recall, there was not a single sale made in the entire movie that went through. The two depicted were both "kills."

One of the many lessons of that story is that if Blake had all the answers, and the leads were more than recycled garbage, Blake should have been out there himself making all types of money. He would not have needed the dray horses.

The Blakes exist, and they talk tough, but they disappear into the wind. They are ultimate losers. - by Gary A Boye
Salesjunior, has empathy been present in whatever instances of success you have experienced thus far in your sales career? - by Gary A Boye
"Scumbag" and "parasite" works for me!

We need more seasoned sales trainers like yourself, Jeff and others here, to identify and steer us away from those infecting the sales training industry.

Thank you for your frankness. - by John Voris
Absolutely, I will never succeed as the bully type of salesperson as depicted in Glengarry Glen Ross. But there are types out there like Blake who do well in this field, I was just pointing that out. - by salesjunior
Yes, but can you give some examples where empathy has been present in whatever instances of success you have experienced thus far in your sales career? - by Gary A Boye
There was no bully type of salesperson depicted in Glengarry Glen Ross.

I believe you're talking about the sales manager. - by Gary A Boye
Sure, I used to sell pay television and I was pretty good at that. I was very open with people and tried to use humor where possible to get them to see me as a person rather than just an information desk. - by salesjunior
The reason I had repeated my request that you elaborate on "empathy" is because it is a word that is bandied around quite frequently in sales discussions, and I'm always curious if a person knows what the word means, specifically as it relates to selling. - by Gary A Boye
Do you think my answer demonstrated understanding of the word "empathy" as it relates to selling? - by salesjunior
No, I'm afraid I don't think so. - by Gary A Boye
I think I was put off by the phrasing of your question. Can you give an "example" of when empathy has been present in your career thus far? I think of empathy as an inherent quality rather than a tool that I use selectively. - by salesjunior
We may have a communication barrier. I'm hard pressed to see any problem with the phrasing of this question:

..Can you give some examples where empathy has been present in whatever instances of success you have experienced thus far in your sales career?
- by Gary A Boye
I wans't sure if you were after anecdotes or not, or how examples would add value to the discussion? I use empathy in all my sales encounters, I would define it loosely as being interested in the customer and not just the sale. - by salesjunior
Staying on the thread's topic regarding thoughts on Glengarry Glen Ross, did you detect any empathy being depicted among any of the salespeople in that movie? - by Gary A Boye
It's been a while since I've seen the movie. I saw the empathy they had for each other, especially Alan Arkin's and Ed Harris's (?) characters. Did I miss something? - by salesjunior
Good. Then you did know what empathy looked like.

My point, in case anybody is wondering, is just because those sales guys, that the movie depicted, are downtrodden dray horses, and probably codependents to boot, it doesn't mean that they lack empathy or don't know how to sell. If any of them existed in real life (and they DO) they could describe empathy if asked.

Until such time when I decide to write a book called "How to Moralize Your Way to Success in Selling", I'm going to be grateful to those types because I've know them in real life. They helped me along the way. - by Gary A Boye
Do you think the problem was the rubbish leads or their attitude? Could a master salesperson turn poor leads into golden opportunities? - by salesjunior
Sounds like alchemists' schtick. - by Gary A Boye
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