“There’s no such thing as a No Sale call. Either you sell him some stock, or he sells you on a reason he can’t. Either way a sale is made. The only question is, who’s gonna close? You or him?”
Those lines are spoken by Ben Affleck’s character in the movie The Boiler Room. Basically, the story goes that Seth Davis, the main character, is on his quest for riches. Eventually he runs into ethical dilemmas, as the stock trading firm he sells for isn’t exactly above board (not even close).
But there are some lessons — for better or worse — that we can take away from watching The Boiler Room. While this is all brass-tacks Sales 101, there’s still lots of nuance, insight, and time-tested wisdom to take away from the film.
So today I want to cover three sales principles we see in The Boiler Room, and how you can apply these principles to your sales role starting today.
Let’s get right into it.
1. A Sale is Made on Every Call You Make
First of all, is this even true? Is a sale really made on every call?
Yes! It’s absolutely true. You will either persuade your prospect to buy, or they will persuade you that it’s not right for them, or it’s not the right timing, or it’s too expensive, or name your objection. Understanding this is half the battle in sales.
But how far should you push? And how far is too far?
These are important questions to ask — because your reputation and your company’s reputation are on the line. Here’s my answer: Push until you feel resistance, then push some more, being careful not to break the golden thread. Since sales is about relationships, it’s never worth destroying a relationship over a deal.
Here’s the thing — there are many shades of “closing.” If your prospect isn’t buying today, they might buy tomorrow. If they don’t buy tomorrow, they might buy three months down the road. And on and on. So you must try to close them on something, even if it’s a meeting at a later date. You have to understand there are technically other outcomes than “sale” or “no sale.” Don’t burn a bridge with the erroneous thinking that it’s now or never.
2. Get Ready With Rebuttals!
In the film, Affleck’s character goes on to say “If they aren’t buying, talk to them. Ask them questions. Ask them rhetorical questions. It doesn’t matter. Anything. Just get a ‘Yes’ out of them. Say, ‘If you’re drowning and I throw you a life jacket would you grab onto it?’ Yes!. Good, pick up 200 shares. I won’t let you down.”
This is great sales advice, actually. It’s critical that you keep your prospects talking. And it’s especially important that you get them talking when they give you an objection. “Tell me more about that? What are your priorities again this quarter? You said you were losing money here, how much was that again? What would you do with a 30% increase in sales? etc. etc.” Get to the bottom of their fear. You’ll likely find that it’s a hollow objection — more of a reflex than anything else.
Of course, you have to get a masterful handle on your rebuttals. I recommend studying the top 10 rebuttals and have a response ready for each of them. Drill these over and over. But don’t just use a canned/scripted rebuttal. Instead, tie each rebuttal to your prospect’s pain points. It’s all about tailoring your responses to their current situation and their future transformation.
3. Be Cordially Persistent
In The Boiler Room, Affleck’s character says “Be relentless.” This is another sales axiom that I follow and hold my team to. Whether it’s putting in 100+ calls in a day, or pressing your prospect for a real reason they won’t buy, you have to be relentless.
But there’s a difference between being relentless and being “pushy.” You don’t want to be pushy. Pushy is desperate. Pushy scorches the earth and your reputation. So instead be cordially persistent. I’ve found that prospects actually like it when I’m cordially persistent, as it shows I actually care about their well-being and business outcomes.
Also remember that the sales cycle is complex, with twists and turns that can go on for months — sometimes even years. When it comes time for your prospect to buy, who do you think they’ll buy from? The salesperson who’s been cordially persistent, or the salesperson who’s been completely absent? The answer is all too obvious.
Blurring Ethical Lines in Sales
I’m not against blurring certain lines in sales. Not everything is squeaky clean in business or life. If you’re too worried about being perfectly “buttoned-up,” you’ll never close deals or get anything done. You have to be a little rough around the edges and willing to get into the trenches with your prospects.
But at the end of every day, aim to hang your hat on a job well done. Aim to sleep better at night knowing you didn’t deceive anyone. Your mission should be to make a positive difference in the world, in your community, in your family, and in yourself. If you play dirty, it will only come back to bite you. So while some ethical lines can get blurred, be sure not to compromise on your morals.
The Boiler Room isn’t the perfect picture of an ethical sales environment. We’ve established that. But we’ve also established that there are some lessons to be learned from the film when it comes to closing deals.
We have to understand that a sale is made during every cold call and conversation. This is true in sales and in life. Sales is about getting someone else to take the desired action that you’ve laid out for them. So on a date with your wife, you might even call choosing what restaurant to eat at a sales activity. Or let’s say you want your daughter to put on a pot of coffee, you first have to sell her on it.
You also have to remember how important your objection rebuttals are. When overcoming objections, just remember to keep your prospect talking. If you’re asking the right questions, they will eventually talk themselves out of their own objection.
And finally, be cordially persistent on every call, in every email, and in every relationship that you build. Persistence is what separates the wannabes from the true sales professionals.
Take this time-tested sales wisdom and start making a real impact in your organization. You’ve got this.
Until next time…