Sales Myths and a Truth from the Movie, “Boiler Room”

in Closing, Humor and Silly Stuff, Prospecting

I’ve not yet seen the new movie, "The Goods: Live Hard, Sell," with Jeremy Piven as a hired gun who comes in to turn around failing used car dealers. The reviews I’ve seen call it a tremendous waste of time, and an embarrassment for Piven. (Which means I’ll probably like it.)

Seems like people always ask me about the movies with a sales theme, so I probably should see it, but don’t want to waste my time if it truly is horrible. If anyone has seen it, let me know your thoughts.

One sales movie that I stop on and watch every time I stumble upon it while channel surfing is "Boiler Room." It’s kind of like the older movie, "Wall Street" from a few years ago … young greedy stockbroker chasing big bucks, conflict with dad, a romantic interest, gets involved in some shady stuff, and an unflattering depiction of salespeople using the phone, particularly brokers. If you liked "Wall Street," or are in the securities business you’d probably love it.

And, I’d say anyone using the phone in sales would get a kick out of it. Worth renting.

However, there are a couple of scenes in the movie that perpetuate the cliches and myths of professional sales, and at least one that is accurate.

This line is used by Ben Affleck’s character who although is billed as one of the stars in the flick,has a very minor role as a trainer in the unscrupulous securities firm, J.T. Marlin. His tirade with the trainees about closing is a classic. You can watch it here. (WARNING: lots of foul language.)

As I’ve said so often, this is one of those myths that give salespeople a bad name. Buyers can smell a "closing technique" a mile away. No one likes to be techniqued.

Granted, we do needto ask for the business, but it must be part of the overall sales process, where we progress through questioning to identify needs, pains, problems and concerns, then make an appropriate recommendation, THEN ask for some type of commitment for action, whether that be the sale or the next step. When done correctly, at the right time, it’s the logical, rational, seamless next step in the conversation.

But, when a sales rep uses a closing technique before the prospect or customer is ready, that causes resistance and objections. Like when rep cold calls someone and says, "I’m Pat Seller with Ace Services. We’re a leader in the ____ industry. I’d like to drop by and show you a few of the things we could do. Would 2:00 or 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday work better for you?"

Meaning, it’s just a numbers game. In the movie, I believe they wanted their trainees making 700 calls a day. It’s not JUST a numbers game, it’s a quality game. Granted, you do need to be on the phone to sell. But you should place emphasis on QUALITY contacts.

That was their terminology for the most realistic sales point made in the movie, meaning that the reps shouldn’t spend time with people who can’t or won’t make a decision.

And don’t waste time sending info out to these people or following up with them.

I see plenty of sales reps chasing shadows every day…placing follow-up calls to people yanking their chain. Don’t be afraid of asking direct questions,

"I’ll be happy to call you back next month. What’s going to make that a better time for you?"

"So you’re saying you’ll be ready to move forward at that point?"

OK, so there’s my movie review for you. I think I’ll stick with my day job.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

David September 9, 2009 at 2:00 pm

“THE GOODS” is HILARIOUS. I work in the car biz and have used some of the concepts from the movie to close deals. Certainly not a HOW TO although it is wort the time investment


Justin January 27, 2017 at 11:35 am

Yeah ABC is extremely effective you clearly aren’t good at sales. It is not a myth. nor is the contact sport. These are ways of life for a good salesperson


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