Always Be Closing

Always Be Closing

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Always Be Closing

Preceding the Play, David Mamet includes the phrase "Always Be Closing," and he titles it a "Practical Sales Maxim." In this essay, I will discuss how this philosophy not only applied to the sales attempts of the characters, but how it encompassed their entire approach to life.

In the first dialogue of the play, Shelly Levene is speaking to John Williamson. He tells John, "All I am saying, that your wasting leads…All that I'm saying, things get set, I know they do, you get a mindset…A guy gets a reputation…All I'm saying, put a closer on the job…wait a second, put a proven man on the job." Shelly is talking about the fact that the good leads always go to the closers. Shelly does not think this is a fair practice. He believes that everyone could be a closer if only they could get the good leads. In the end of this dialogue he misstates himself and says, "put a closer on the job." This statement, which he quickly corrects, shows that Shelly is trying to make his past achievements relevant to the present. He used to be a closer but he is not anymore. For Shelly Levene, the phrase, "Always be closing", is a reminder of what he used to be. He was on top "eight months out of twelve, for three years in a row." He was immersed in his work, and he was the best. Then his streak ended and he fell from his throne. His driving force now is the idea that he can regain his place at the top. If only he could get the good leads, which ironically he cannot, because he isn't a closer. Although it was never stated as such, I got the idea that there was a problem with his daughter. He kept referring to her, but nothing was ever established as to the role she played in his life. I believe Shelly Levene was willing to sacrifice whatever relationship he had with his daughter in order to continue his quest to be great again.

Richard Roma is in the place that Shelly Levene used to occupy. He is on top because he closes the deal. He is, now, involved in a sales promotion to win a Cadillac. He not only will win the Cadillac, he will also win the coveted Glengarry leads.

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These leads, in all likelihood will guarantee that Roma will remain on top. The deal he closes with James Lingk puts him over the top and secures him the win. In Act Two, Lingk comes into the office to see Roma. I think Roma instinctively knows that he is not bringing good news. Roma and Levene attempt to leave before Lingk can tell them why he is there. If they can get out before he says anything then he cannot cancel his deal. When this fails, Roma lies and tells Lingk that his contract states that he has until Monday to cancel when actually he only has until Friday. If Roma can put him off until after Friday he is home free, Lingk cannot legally get out of the deal. Roma is willing to do whatever it takes to secure his deal and win the Cadillac and the Glengarry leads.

In Act One, Scene Two, Dave Moss is speaking with George Aaronow. They are talking about how hard it is to close a sale. Moss makes the statement, "The pressure's too great. They're too important. All of them. You go in the door. I…I got to close this or I don't eat lunch." Dave Moss is desperate. He is not closing deals and he is not getting any worthwhile leads. Neither Moss nor Aaronow feel that they are living up to the standards set before them. Moss sees another salesman; Jerry Graff who I assume is working on his own, making a fortune and not having to answer to people like Mitch and Murray. I think Moss believes himself to be a good salesman and in another firm with some good leads, he can be the best. He has approached Graff with the idea of getting the Glengarry lead for Graff and then coming to work with him. However, Moss is a coward and doesn't want to do the dirty work himself so he is trying to convince Aaronow to steal the leads for him and take a smaller portion of the cut. Aaronow is also at a low point, but he is not willing to commit robbery. Obviously, Moss approaches Levene with the same offer and Levene takes him up on it.

In the end, each of these men compromises something of themselves in order to attain this unreachable goal. They have trades their lives to "Always Be Closing." The problem with this is that the trade is unbalanced. They are all beginning to realize that the cost was too great and the return to small. They cannot "Always Be Closing," it is not possible. Sometimes you connect with people, sometimes you don't. Sometimes you can make a sale, sometimes you can't. This is life. To think that you can always be on is unrealistic. These men are slowly coming to this inevitability. They have lost their life and it is too late to get it back.
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