Do you know the ABC’s of business?
Picture this: You and five other sales professionals are stuck in the office. It’s late; the sun has gone down, and the only lights are those annoyingly bright fluorescent ones — the same ones every office has. When a sharp-dressed man, all in black, bursts through the door and calls a meeting. He’s from corporate, he drives a nice BMW, and he’s madder than Hell.
One of your coworkers stands up to grab a cup of coffee, but the man stops him.
“Coffee is for closers.”
He tells the crew to huddle up and gathers them around the board.
“The numbers are down, boys!” The man’s voice slices through the stagnant air and sends a shiver down the spines of your coworkers.
“Listen up!” he barks, his words bouncing off the walls of the dimly lit office space. “This isn’t a game, this is business.” He knocks over a pile of lead cards. “And in business, you either close or you’re out. No room for excuses, no room for failure!”
He struts around the room; his polished shoes bounce off the tile when he finally reaches his destination — a chalkboard. He flips it over.
On the board are the letters:
Like a predator among sheep, his polished shoes glistening in the light, he explodes.
“You think you’re here to chat, to make friends? No! You’re here to seal the deal. A.B.C. Always! Be! Closing! Always be closing!”
The other salespeople look at each other, wondering what the Hell just happened.
And there you sit, wondering what this all means.
What is always be closing?
Always be closing or the ABC’s is a popular sales saying from the Movie Glengarry Glen Ross. Essentially, it’s a mindset you should always be closing the deal and get on to the next one. Hence, A.B.C. … always be closing. Over time, due to the catchiness of the phrase and the performance of Alec Baldwin, it’s taken a place in pop culture and has become a saying in many sales offices today. But it begs the question… does this advice work?
Does this advice work?
Well…yes and no. Like most things in life, the answer is more nuanced and less absolute. Yes, I believe it’s helpful to have the idea to always be closing in the back of your mind. After all, as a salesperson, that’s what you’re hired to do… close deals.
Many salespeople, especially newer ones, will often beat around the bush instead of asking for the sale, which, of course… doesn’t make them especially good salespeople. But should you always be closing all the time?
A resounding no.
You see, in sales, there are many steps that go into selling. Generally speaking, you need to build a relationship, identify the problem, offer the solution, back it up with credibility, and answer any questions before you ask for the sale. If your mindset is to always be closing and you skip the middle, you’ll come across as the dreaded pushy salesperson whom everyone, including your mother, hates.
And believe me, people like a pushy salesperson less than they like those spammy auto warranty phone calls… and that’s pretty darn low.
What to do instead
Forget always be closing, and replace it with this: always be asking — it’s the activity you should always do. As a salesperson, your job is to be a professional asker. To ask your prospect who is authorized to make a decision. To ask your prospect who their current vendor is. To ask your prospect for an appointment. To ask your prospect what problems they may have. To ask your prospect if they think your solution would make their life easier. To ask your prospect to try your service out and see for themselves. To ask your prospect if they want to become a customer. To ask your prospect if they have any questions.
In fact, you can say that the more comfortable you are with asking, the more likely you are to have sales success.
While it’s great for Hollywood to show high-powered sales and a cut-throat boiler room mentality — in reality — professional selling is much more consultative. It’s less flashy and really more of a discovery process. Sorry Scorsese.
So in short, remember this:
Forget always be closing and, instead, always be asking.
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