Don't Always Be Closing

July 7, 2006

There’s a trite concept known as “ABC” (Always Be Closing) from the sales world.  I think it’s from a David Mamet film (Glengarry Glen Ross).  The idea is that to be successful in sales, you have to “always be closing” (i.e. always focused on the end goal of getting the deal done).  I disagree. 

I attended the recent Boston Startups Meetup last night.  Basically, it was about 20 or so startup folks from the Boston/Cambridge area getting together for an informal dinner (Thai food) in the heart of Harvard Square.  Events like these are one of the reasons I love living in Boston.

I’m usually not big on social networking events (I tend to be a bit of an introvert), but I like this particular group because of one simple fact:  the people are not trying to sell you something.

Too many times, when you go to these social events you run into a disproportionate number of people that are trying to sell you something.  Not always in the literal “please buy my product/service” sense, but more in the “what can I get from you” sense.  Don’t get me wrong.  Startup founders should be passionate about their companies.  Goes with the territory.  But, sometimes, it’s good to just be human and have a genuine conversation with other people.  It can be about business.  It can be about technology.  It can even be about your startup.  It just shouldn’t always be about promoting your product/company.  You shouldn’t always be looking to get something out of the conversation.  Often, a healthy debate or a deep technical discussion is immensely valuable.

My favorite conversations with other startup folks is when we can discuss an issue or topic on which intelligent, rational people can objectively disagree.  For example, I’m in the midst of a somewhat intense discussion this week with someone regarding the merits of Python vs. C# in the context of startups.  That is, which is better?  Any night that I can discuss something like this, instead of just being sold to, is a good night.

In any case, just a quick note to all the startup folks out there:  Take a page from the book of young geek entrepreneur Shimon Rura, who helps organize the Boston Startup group and is a genuinely great guy.  You don’t need to always be closing.  Sometimes, it’s enough just to “always be”.

My thanks to Shimon for organizing yet another geek entrepreneur event.  Looking forward to the next one.

Written by Dharmesh Shah

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