Always Be Closing—ABC: Explanation of Motivational Phrase

What Is Always Be Closing—ABC?

Always Be Closing (ABC) is a motivational phrase used to describe a sales strategy. It implies that a salesperson following the regimen should continuously look for new prospects, pitch products or services to those prospects, and ultimately complete a sale.

As a strategy, ABC requires that the salesperson be persistent, but also that they know when to cut their losses and move on to another prospect.

Key Takeaways

  • Always Be Closing is a mantra used in the sales world meaning a seller must always be in the mindset of closing deals, using whatever tactics are necessary.
  • The phrase's origins are the 1992 David Mamet-scripted film "Glengarry Glen Ross," which is based on his Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name.
  • In the modern age, studies show lead generation, customer follow-up, and strategy sessions comprise a greater part of a salesperson's day than "closing."

The Basics of ABC

The phrase Always Be Closing was popularized in the 1992 film, "Glengarry Glen Ross" starring Alec Baldwin, Al Pacino, and Jack Lemmon. The movie was written by David Mamet and was based on his Pulitzer Prize-winning play. It emphasized the darker, cutthroat side of the sales industry.

In the film, an aggressive representative from the corporate office is brought in to motivate a group of real estate agents, telling them to sell more property or be fired if they fail. He delivers a profanity-laced tirade, accusing the salespeople of being timid and unmotivated. He flaunts his wealth and success.

During his speech, he flips over a blackboard on which the words "Always Be Closing" are written, and he repeats the phrase several times. The speech backfires, however, because the salespeople resort to a host of unethical tactics to achieve their sales numbers.

Later, in the 2000 film "Boiler Room," a sales trainer mentoring a young stockbroker asks the trainee if he's seen "Glengarry Glen Ross." He then proceeds to quiz him on the meaning of Always Be Closing.

The Effectiveness of Always Be Closing

The term has become a catchall example of a few of the pithy quotations that sales managers often use to motivate their sales staffs and to drive home the importance of being tenacious with prospects. It serves as a reminder that every action a salesperson takes with a client prospect should be done with the intention of moving the sale toward a close.

From the initial rapport-building stage of the sales process to uncovering customer needs and product positioning, the representative should be "closing" the entire time, setting the customer up to to a point where the only logical thing to do is pull out his checkbook.

Always Be Closing, as a concept, may be a relic of an earlier time; savvy, modern consumers are less likely to be as susceptible to sales pitches in an era when so much information is available online about products and pricing.

Real World Example

While it might be entertaining on the big screen, ABC is seldom successful in real life situations for a variety of reasons.

A 2018 study by CSO Insights, an independent research and data provider, indicated that successful salespeople spent, at most, 35% of their time actually selling or "closing" deals. The research found that lead generation, customer follow-up, strategy and planning sessions, and administrative tasks comprised the lion's share of their time.

As reports, research suggests that the ABC mentality is losing its effectiveness. The average 21st-century customer comes armed with significantly more information than a consumer did in 1984, when the David Mamet story was a Pulitzer Prize-winning stage presentation, and even since 1992, when the film was released. Modern customers prefer to shop around and research before making purchases. They're much less susceptible to slick sales pitches than people once were.

Article Sources
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  1. CSO Insights. "2016 CSO Insights Sales Enablement Optimization Study," Page 5. Accessed Oct. 23, 2020.

  2. "Always Be Closing? The End of Selling." Accessed Oct. 23, 2020.

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