Sales Training from the Ghostbusters

You’ve got your foot in the door. In fact, you have a chance to make your presentation to the person responsible for making the final purchase decision. What can you do to nail down the sale? Find out now.

Picture this scene from the 1984 smash comedy movie from Columbia Pictures, Ghostbusters: Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray, aka, the Ghostbusters, are involved in a heated meeting with the Mayor and the Head of the local environmental agency. The city is in shambles because a legion of evil spirits has invaded and is currently wreaking havoc and chaos throughout the land. The perplexed Mayor feels that these Ghostbusters may be his only chance at saving the city, although he is not altogether convinced. Conversely, the Agency Head wants these Ghostbusters arrested and jailed for fraud.

Bill Murray’s character then presents the best sales presentation and close that has ever been written into a movie script! He proceeds to outline what has occurred in the city thus far and paints a vivid picture of what is yet to come, which happens to be far more horrible that anything that has happened thus far. The Agency Head then presents his argument, one that unfortunately does not provide a solution to their immediate problem, demanding that the Ghostbusters be arrested and thrown in jail. The Mayor, aware that his very soul and Mayoral term may be at stake, is faced with making a decision that will impact the current dismal situation. As both sides present their cases, he pensively thinks and studies the demanding, expressive faces of those in his chamber. What is he to do?

It is at this point that Murray’s character delivers the most incredible closing statement, one that should be a pivotal component in the curriculum at every sales training facility and secondary school. He states, “Mr. Mayor, if you retain our services and permit us to do our job, you will personally be responsible for saving the lives of millions of registered voters!” Of course, the Mayor chooses the Ghostbusters, orders the Agency Head removed from his office, and proceeds to set the tone for the remainder of the movie.

Murray and Aykroyd’s presentation and close incorporate so many classic techniques that often escape salespeople while presenting to their qualified prospects. I say qualified prospects because they were already in front of the decision maker, stating their case. They were not wasting their time presenting their solutions to the wrong person, incapable of making the decision that they were looking for. How many times do we make stellar presentations and wonder why the order has not arrived yet? Making an outstanding presentation of the features, advantages and benefits to the actual decision maker, then asking for a buying decision is paramount to a successful sale. This is why there are salespeople.

Their competitor, the Agency Head, was also in front of the decision maker, but he failed to keep in mind what was important to the Mayor. He was presenting what was important to him at the time. Does that sound familiar? How often are salespeople guilty of removing their focus from the buyer and his needs, only to focus on “what’s in this sale for me?” Zig Ziglar states it so eloquently when he says “You can get anything in life that you want, if you’ll help enough other people get what they want.”

The Ghostbusters kept their focus. They knew that the Mayor needed help. They had a solid, in-depth understanding of the problems facing him. They were aware of the political fallout and ramifications of the situation and the danger that was facing the city. They had their facts and they had a solution. Do we as salespeople always gather our facts, our knowledge about the company we are calling on, their markets, their competition and the problems they are currently facing?

The Ghostbusters were also well aware of their competition. In fact, the Mayor had called them all into his office simultaneously so that he could hear their presentations and come to a decision. We may infrequently find ourselves in a similar, uncomfortable situation, but do you actually know who all of your major competitors are? Are you mindful of their strengths and weaknesses? Can you present your case, focusing upon your abilities to adequately meet the needs of your customer without bashing the competition? You need to know your competition.

The Ghostbusters actually closed. How many salespeople will make a magnificent presentation only to leave without asking for the order? Murray asked for the order and he utilized the key, all-important, personalized benefit to close. He knew what the Mayor actually wanted and offered it to him. The final close we utilize after our great presentation must present a win-win proposition for everyone involved. If done properly, your buyer cannot say no. He will be convinced, beyond any doubt, that your solution has more value than the price you are asking, and it will more than meet his needs. The sale is made!

Remember the outstanding Ghostbusters presentation and close when you are planning your next call. Execute your plan and win the sale. Remember, your role as a professional salesperson is to provide enough value to offset the price that your product sells for and then to ask for the order. The customer will soon forget the price that he paid for your product or service, but he will long remember how well it meets his needs and solves his problems. He will remember you as well. Be a Ghostbuster, or sell like one anyway!

Copyright 2005 Daniel Sitter

Daniel Sitter is the author of the e-book Learning For Profit. Mr. Sitter is a contributing writer for several online and traditional publications. His article topics include sales strategy, effective learning techniques, networking skills, self-improvement and general business interests. Contact him at 

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