You know the scene. Alec Baldwin walks into the room and delivers a scathing, profane monologue to the assembled sales reps. He basically tells them that anyone who doesn’t close deals is a loser, then threatens everyone’s job and brags about his watch and car. You probably know it as the “coffee’s for closers” scene from Glengarry Glen Ross. The movie might have come out before you were born, but Glengarry Glen Ross quotes still proliferate a number of sales-driven workplaces. And if your boss has “Coffee’s for Closers” or “Always Be Closing” on his coffee mug – or (gasp!) if you’ve ever heard him actually say those things – your workplace might be one of them.
Keep scrolling to watch the scene! Warning: There’s no shortage of profanity.
Should you be worried? Of course, nobody should want to work for a guy like Baldwin’s character from Glengarry Glen Ross. But we’re here to talk you down from the ledge.
No one has to earn their coffee like an Account Executive. Here’s our guide to becoming a quota-crushing AE.
What Glengarry Glen Ross quotes could mean at your office
Say you start a new job, and within the first few days you catch several references to this cinematic ode to the sales profession. Here are a couple things this could indicate.
A toxic work culture
Let’s make no mistake: the Glengarry Glen Ross speech highlights how harsh the sales profession can also be. It’s a testament to the notion that in sales, you’re only as good as your number. And it caricatures the brash, arrogant personality that’s often attributed to salespeople.
Good, nurturing managers invest in increasing the success of underperforming sales reps through coaching, communication, and more. Toxic ones do what Baldwin does: Tell them they have one week to hit a number or they’re out, without offering any resources to help them do so.
If this is what it’s really like in your office, that should be a red flag. Any sales role will, in fact, judge you on your quota, and missing that quota consistently will likely cost you your job. But good, nurturing managers invest in increasing the success of underperforming sales reps through coaching, communication, and more. Toxic ones do what Baldwin does: Tell them they have one week to hit a number or they’re out, without offering any resources to help them do so. Whip-cracking work environments like this do, indeed, exist, and frequent invocations of Glengarry Glen Ross could be a sign that you’re in one. But they typically cause more misery than success.
An office with a sense of humor
Everyone should be able to make fun of themselves sometimes – including alpha-personality sales executives. Glengarry Glen Ross quotes are often a tongue-in-cheek way to satirize the kind of cutthroat sales environments the movie portrays. If you hear it quoted in your office, it doesn’t necessarily mean your boss is some hardliner in alligator shoes who’s going to fire anyone who doesn’t hit their quarterly number a month early. It could easily just be a joke!
Does Glengarry Glen Ross actually have something to teach you?
As distasteful as Baldwin seems in that scene, there are a few things you can learn from the things he says.
- “A guy doesn’t walk on the lot unless he wants to buy.” – Don’t leave warm leads on the table! Any qualified person from a qualified account who shows interest in your product should be pursued as potential revenue.
- “We’re adding a little something to this month’s sales contest. First prize is a Cadillac El Dorado.” – Sales incentives continue to be an effective motivator. Just don’t expect to get a car as a reward for your efforts.
- “The leads are weak? You’re weak!” – Your boss should never call you weak, but it’s true that your quota isn’t likely to change just because you don’t think the leads you’re getting are solid. You’re still going to have to find a way to hit that number.
Glengarry Glen Ross quotes can be funny, or they can be a sign of a toxic work environment. But they say art imitates life, so there are things about this movie that can give you a sense of what life in sales is like, even today. Now get out there and start closing. The coffee’s on for when you’re done.