The sales mantra “Always Be Closing,” or ABC, is what every salesperson learns in their first sales class. Yet, in today’s technology-driven society where everyone has access to an infinite amount of information at their fingertips, is ABC really the best way to approach a potential customer or make a sales presentation?
When the phrase “Always Be Closing” was immortalized in the 1992 movie Glengarry Glen Ross, the business world looked much different. Desktop computers were used only for spreadsheets and documents, as there was no internet. Cell phones were just beginning to emerge as stationary units attached to the floorboards of cars. Pagers were the popular instant messaging device as long as you could find a pay phone. Access to information and means of communication were pretty archaic compared to today’s standards. The salesperson’s time in front of a customer was devoted to educating them about the product’s specifications and performance capabilities. Since there was no internet, the business owner wasn’t able to Google this information. “Always Be Closing” was a high priority in sales call strategy, as the sales mentality was “If I don’t sell them, someone else will.”
Sales presentations today have made a 180 degree turn. No longer is critical information about the product or service passed only through the salesperson. In today’s information age, the internet is available whenever and wherever you want. Does this mean the death of the salesperson could be at hand?
Not if they relearn their ABCs. Instead of ABC being a phrase about what the salesperson wants, the phrase today is all about helping the customer get what they want: Assist the customer in Buying what they need and then Confirm that they are satisfied with their purchase.
When the salesperson held the cards to all the product or service information, the sale was very much a win/lose situation, therefore lending credence to the phrase “buyer beware.” Today, the customer has the information about the products or services available to them. The salesperson’s job is to Assist the customer in understanding the benefits of the service or product as it relates to the customer’s needs. A key strategy in assisting customers is to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and see how your services or products will benefit them.
Salespeople used to be more interested in what they wanted out of the sale than in what the customer needed to buy. Now, the salesperson’s job is to listen and help the customer Buy what they need, using “have” and “want” questions to discover the problem behind that need. The customer will buy when they believe they can benefit from using the service or product. A key strategy to helping customers buy is to share information about other satisfied customers.
The salesperson of the past was interested in getting to the close, and following up or building relationships were not fundamental strategies for success. The job of the salesperson today is not done once the deal is closed; actually it’s just the opposite. Today the customer has high expectations of customer service after the sale. A key strategy to Confirming that the customer is satisfied with the purchase is to pick up the phone and call them. No longer can a salesperson hide when a sale goes bad. Instead, they need to quickly resolve the customer’s issues. And they should always ask for referrals and recommendations once the customer is 100% satisfied.
Sales is no longer just about taking an order; it’s about personal connections and serving others. The new sales strategy is not to sell on purpose, but with a purpose. But this change in the role does not mean the death of the salesperson; again, it’s just the opposite. Great salespeople want to solve problems and be a part of something bigger than just a single transaction. By relearning their ABCs, they can spell out their own success through creating win/win situations for the customer and, as a result, themselves.
John Monroe is a Business Development Advisor for Violand Management Associates (VMA), the largest consulting company in the restoration and cleaning industries. Monroe is a leading expert in marketing, sales and sales management for the restoration and cleaning industries with over 30 years of experience in those fields. Through Violand, Monroe works with companies to develop their people and their profits. To reach him, visit Violand.com or call (800) 360-3513.