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Coffee Is for Closers: Developing a Sales Culture

In the famous scene from Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin yells at an aging salesman: “Put down that coffee! Coffee is for closers only!”

Although playwright David Mamet wrote Glengarry Glen Ross to satirize sales culture, that scene has become something of a mantra among business people. Phrases like “Coffee is for closers” and “Always Be Closing” are popular inside jokes among anyone whose job involves business development on a regular basis.

For one thing, we all recognize its truth. If satire weren’t based on fact, it wouldn’t be very funny. Sales can feel like a relentless pursuit; one must “Always Be Closing,” and success often requires us to get a little more aggressive and Alec-Baldwin-like than we’d prefer.

However, creating a sales culture is important, from the U.S. Lawns Home Office to each individual franchise. No, you don’t want to threaten to fire people who don’t “close” enough deals; but Glengarry Glen Ross gets one thing right: business development is not just for salesmen anymore. Always Be Closing.

Here are some sales tips we believe are important, and ways you can apply them to create a positive sales culture in your territory or at the Home Office.

  • Always Be Closing. As we said, the wisdom we can glean from Alec Baldwin’s character is that “sales” doesn’t stop when you land a new account or recruit a franchisee. It also doesn’t stop with the sales team. Sure, that’s how it worked in the old days. But in 2014, we have social media and 24-hour news cycles. People are used to being reached at any hour with technology, and constantly bombarded with information. They are also used to doing research on companies before ever requesting a proposal. That means you have to constantly think about how you’re developing your business; what kind of message you’re sending; what kind of prospects you’re attracting. The pipeline should always be full, and everyone should be ready to spring into action.
  • Team work. Here’s why the Alec Baldwin scene is ridiculous, and a parody of sales culture. Sales people have traditionally worked as lone wolves, competing for leads and commission. But that simply doesn’t work in today’s image-driven market. Everyone on your team needs to be part of the sales process. That includes knowing the numbers, drumming up referrals, and telling our story in a compelling way. As stated above, most property managers have already done considerable research before requesting a proposal. Your entire team is responsible for making sure U.S. Lawns looks like an attractive option. The same goes for Home Office employees, promoting the U.S. Lawns image to potential franchisees and customers. Sales culture takes all of us.
  • Live your brand. Remember the days when you won a proposal on price? We do, too; and they’re gone. Thanks to the recession, you can always find some unemployed guy with a mower to underbid you. But you can’t find anyone else with your unique, competitive advantage. U.S. Lawns outpaces the market with personal service and national strength. Capitalize on that combination, everywhere you go. Not when you’re trying to earn new business, but every day. Maybe try to start a landscape management column in your local paper, to show your national expertise. At the same time, make a point to be active in a local charity, to demonstrate your commitment to service. Actions speak louder than words, and a true sales culture means not being afraid to show the world what’s in your DNA.
  • Just do it. Another reason the Alec Baldwin bit is funny, is that it makes sales look dramatic. In real life, anyone who’s ever tried to sell knows the opposite is true. Most days, hunting for new business is just plain boring and tedious. Nobody likes to cold call, or write emails, or attend networking meetings all day long. By having your entire team engage in sales support, you can spread some of these duties around. But you’re still going to have to pick up the phone, or knock on a door. Whatever you do, stay focused and don’t give up. The biggest rule of sales is to move the needle … to do something every day. You don’t have to win a sale. Win the day. You simply want to make progress. Slow and steady always wins the business development race.
  • Support your sales team. For those of you who don’t have much to do with sales, it’s important that your leadership team keep you up to date with what’s going on. After all, anything that grows the company benefits you as well. Show your support to the sales team and help cheer them on. Make it clear that you’re working on other projects that dovetail with their efforts to attract the right people and clients. All in all, a sales culture is just that: a culture. Everybody plays, and everybody wins.
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