Always Be Closing (Sales Strategy) - Explained
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Table of ContentsWhat is Always Be Closing?What is the History of Always Be Closing?A Little More on Always Be Closing Sales StrategyGenerating LeadsSales PitchClosing techniquesAcademic Research for ABC Sales Strategy
What is Always Be Closing?
ABC, in the sales and marketing world, is acronym for the popular sales teams mantra Always Be Closing. It means that the bottom line for any salesperson is to close a sale, literally, to always be closing a sale to all potential prospects. Although, the phrase Always Be Closing (ABC) is usually referred to as a technique, it is more of a motivational phrase.
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What is the History of Always Be Closing?
Tracing back to the early 80s, the rules for success of any salesperson has always been quite simple, if one wants to make more bonuses or commission, and have a career growth, all one has to do is to always be closing. Consequently, salespersons have been viewed as persistent, often aggressive, and sometimes manipulative in their quest to close a sale. T
his was clearly depicted in the famous movie Glengarry Glen Ross in 1992. The movie is based on the 1984 Pulitzer-winning play by the same name penned down earlier in 1982 by acclaimed writer David Mamet. The screenplay was also done by Mr. Mamet. In a scene from the film, an intimidating Alec Baldwin playing the character Blake berated a group of disheartened salesmen from his partitioned blackboard with the phrase "ABC. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing and AIDA. A- Attention, I- Interest, D- Desire, A- Action.
Blake, who has been sent from the corporate office to drum up enthusiasm for the latest sales promotion, is the perfect example of a cutthroat salesperson and quite condescending towards non-performing employees. He gives the real estate sales team a sales strategy that is, AIDA and the bottom line which is to always be closing (ABC). He emphasizes on the later with a series of profanity-laced speeches. Blake, a manager, threatens the real estate salesmen who seem to be struggling to sell land in Florida; they either close a sale or lose their jobs. The play and film are named after both Glengarry Highlands and Glen Ross Farms, which are the two real estate developments that the salesmen are selling.
A Little More on Always Be Closing Sales Strategy
Closing is a sales term that refers to the moment a salesperson achieves a desired outcome by either a commitment by a signature from a prospect or exchange of goods or services for money. The term springs from real estate industry where closing is the final step when a sale is achieved for a house or vacant land. In order for a salesperson to always be closing a sale, one need to look for new prospects, pitch products or services to those prospects, and ultimately complete a sale. This is the ABC of always be closing;
- Generate leads (prospects)
- Sales Proposal (pitch)
- Closing techniques (sale)
The phrase always be closing has often been associated with pushy salesmanship with an aim of making a sale and not putting the customers needs first. This is not entirely true since it is not appropriate to generalize the entire profession based on the mistakes of few salespersons. Consequently, it is common to hear always be helping (ABH) as an alternative modern sales motivational phrase to always be closing. Nevertheless, they are same thing, with the bottom line being a quest to close a sale.Currently, we live in an information age and the twenty first century shopper comes armed with knowledge about a product and doesnt need a hard sale from a salesperson. Modern customers prefer to shop around and research before making purchases. They're much less susceptible to slick sales pitches forcing a different approach by salespersons in order to close a sale. In order to understand how a sales process works; from identifying leads to the initial rapport-building stage and finally to the point where the client /customer willingly agrees to self-close, we can discuss in details the process; that is, the ABC of closing a sale.
In the twenty first century the best method found to be the most effective in generating sales leads is none other than inbound marketing. In business, a sales lead refers to either an individual or a business entity that may eventually close on a sale, or it may refer to the actual data that identifies various business entities or individual as potential prospects. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, refers to a series of techniques used to draw customers towards a product in the hope that they become promising leads so that one can close more deals. Inbound marketing is all about cultivating relationships by suggesting solution rather than pushing for brand recognition. There are several ways that a company or individual salespersons can generate leads with inbound marketing including;
Use social media to find prospects you can help
Social platform such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter among others can be a great way to generate valuable leads without much hustle. This means one will have to have a professional profile with a good picture as well as a good description. One should continuously post professional updates and increase the number of social connections to ensure a big network. Also, you can offer to provide free consultation or post an article that link back to other blogs youve written for that suggests solution while underscoring your product or service in a not so conspicuous manner. Need some help on your first post? Well, you can reach out to your resident marketer to help you write a post or simply hire a freelance writer to craft an effective piece that drives prospects to take action.
Get referrals from current customers
Referrals are among the best ways to generate sales lead and most importantly this are promising prospects since the referee has a personal connection and there is trust already. A suggestion to get any salesperson to get referrals from existing client will be to first start by a show of gratitude, by continuously thanking them for their business; a small gift is a big plus. Later, one can proceed to request the client if they are willing to identify any other contacts or companies that he or she believes would be interested in the same level of service. Also, you can make a further request to have the favor of being introduced to the potential contact before you reach out. Always express gratitude to such clients.
Work with your personal network
Being a peoples person is not easy, but a good salesperson knows that peoples skill is a cornerstone to his or her sales profession. Friends, neighbors, as well as family members can be considered to be close associate and part of ones network. It is fairly easy to ask such associates to support your profession. However, the request needs to be respectful and not to be seen as taking advantage of their trust and one need not be aggressive too. Ensure that the connection is such that both of you can freely talk about business before putting up the topic for discussion.
Attend a networking event
Networking events such as workshops or expos are also a good way to generate leads by connecting on a face to face level with prospects. It is advisable to always smile get to know peoples name and connect on a personal level first. If you exchange contacts with anyone, you can also take the chance to connect on social media platforms by handing them your phone so that they can search their online profile and connect easily. Always try to mingle and have genuine fun as some prospect may show interest due to ones personality which they admire.
Revisit closed/lost opportunities.
One of the character traits of a good salesperson,the one who will always be closing, is persistence. There are those prospects that have seen a demo of your product or services and have made it through the discovery call but were not financially able or perhaps it was not the right time to close. It is important to constantly be in communication with such prospects as one may never know when their priorities may change and may be ready to close. One can implement an email sequence that addresses pain points, highlights hoe one of your biggest client is benefiting. Also, continuously send the relevant blog posts to ensure you stay top of their mind in case of a shift.
After generating leads and knowing who to set up an appointment with the intention of informing the prospect on the product or services. A sales pitch is an attempt by a salesperson at convincing a prospective buyer by educating them on the benefits of the product or services that one is offering in the hope that they believe in your product. Below are some tips on how to deliver an effective sales pitch;
Determine if the prospect has a problem you can solve.
Money is a reward after solving someone elses problem. You need to identify that the potential prospect has a problem that is in sync with what your company or product caters for because that is the only way one will attract a keen attention from a lead/prospect.
Stop talking about yourself. Dont recite your resume so much. Focus on the product and how it benefits the client and not how youve sold to whomever and how experienced you are with the product. The bottom-line is how your product will assist the client and how you can address their doubts.
Ask questions Connect with the client on a personal level and be inquisitive as some prospect might be willing to talk about what they do and the problems they are facing. This is the opportunity to ask the right question that will determine if the product or services is the right fit for that particular prospect need. You might be pushing for a particular product, yet you have an alternative product that the client will love and the only way to know for sure is by asking questions.
As you discuss with the prospect, try to understand their point of view about the product and service. Let it sink before you can counter their view in a way that is educative rather than argumentative. The client will feel you are trying to help since you understand his/her point of view. Sometimes a prospect indicates signs of objection because they have a different view that is not in sync with the real ideal of a product or service probably due to misinformation.
An objection from a prospect is natural. After youve talk to the client about the product and services and there is no guarantee of a conviction, pulling out a closing technique -and there are several- to drive the point home will complete the sales cycle process and whatever the outcome be sure you have done your part.
Closing isn't a step or moment in the sales process, but rather a journey you bring the prospect or buyer on and that journey starts at the very beginning. After one has generated leads, done an impressive presentation of the product or services a closing technique becomes an additional strategy to further convince the client if they are hesitant to self-close.Turning those No into Yes is a big credit. Below are some closing techniques that can help one to always be closing and bring home the bacon;
The Assumptive Close.
This technique works when pitching to a familiar prospect that has checked most of the boxes in each step of the sales process and you know the product is a perfect fit for them. It works because your choice of language, positive thinking and a confidence level that assumes the deal is done makes it seem obvious to the prospect that youre on the same page and youre expecting a close. However, it is good to know when not to assume especially when there are frequent objections to the product or services.
The Take Away Close.
The takeaway close works when there seems to be an objection by the prospect to the product pricing as well as certain features of the product which consequently affects the overall price. The best thing to do in such a situation is to take away some of the features the prospect feels doesnt fit them and counter the initial price offer with a lower price and the prospect may be so inclined to accept.
The Now or Never Close (Urgency close).
This works when as a salesperson you have the freedom to offer discount and you are dealing with a prospect that is on the line about buying your product or the main objection is that they dont have the time to decide now. You pressure the prospect into making a decision by adding a sense of urgency and that the freebie or discount attached to the product is only for a limited period. The prospect may feel he/ she is losing out and close out of such fears.
The Hard Close.
There are some clients that no matter the value you put into your product description, they wont close. In such a situation it is advisable to pull the hard close cat out of the bag and make it clear that you are there to make a close and aggressively ask for a commitment it may take a couple of No before a reluctant Yes comes out. The hard close may seem brutal and therefore it should only be used when one has nothing to lose and youve exhausted all avenues of convincing the client and this seems to be the last straw and you now no longer have to spend time following up.
The Columbo Close.
This is a popular closing techniques adapted from the TV character Detective Columbo. After interrogating a suspect, he would turn and start to walk away and the suspect would think Columbo was done with them; He would suddenly turn and say, "Just one more thing" putting them on the suspect on the spot again. After you've wrapped up your sales pitch and despite your effort the customer is about to walk away, use the Columbo line to hit the customer with the most enticing part of your product has to offer.
The Summary Close.
This works best when as a salesperson youve had a particularly long conversation,as you wrap up the conversation, it is advisable to summarize all the benefit the product provides to the prospect. A summary may be more impactful when the prospect has been attentive and he / she just need a quick reminder of the benefit of the underlying product and why closing on the sale is a good idea.
The Puppy Dog Close.
This works on the presumption that having a client test or try something they will end up closing. It is based on research those people who enter a pet store cant resist buying the pet because of their unbearable cuteness. Therefore, the puppy close technique works best if your product offering has a trial period. Statistics show that salespersons who have the advantage of using the puppy dog technique report high closure rate.
The Sharp Angle Close.
When dealing with prospects who are used to sales pitches and are well versed with sales nuances it is good to hold on the freebies and discounts first. Such clients will ask for a discount at some point in order to close and this is when you bring out the surprise and get a commitment from them in return. In short, you are giving them what you were willing to give but after they ask for it.
The Backwards Close.
This involves starting at the end of a sales cycle process by asking potential prospects for referrals for anyone whom they think may benefit from the product. Curiously, the client will be at ease since youre not selling to them and may want to know which product and how it works. That is the opportunity to pitch to the prospect and probably ink a deal with a prospect as well as get a referral. In conclusion, now that one knows what it takes to always be closing as a salesperson, one may vary and modify the techniques to see what works best to bring the prospect close to a sale.However, the brutal truth about the sales world is that no matter the effort one puts in a sales process the bottom line is that one should try to Always Be Closing and it is not an option. A salesperson will probably get fired if he/she doesnt often, not necessarily always, successfully close deals.
Academic Research for ABC Sales Strategy
- Business-to-business event sponsorship: Generating value through strategy and metrics, Connolly, K. P., & Connolly, A. (2014). Journal of Brand Strategy, 3(1), 51-58.
- The Emerging Role of the Sales Technologist, Good, D. J., & Schutlz, R. J. (2005). Southern Business Review, 30(2), 11-19.
- Sales principles to help grow lab revenues--Part II., Francis, P. T. (2012). MLO: medical laboratory observer, 44(7), 44-46.
- Design Thinking in Sales, Dager, J. (2014).
- Anatomy of a good sales introduction-part I, DeCormier, R. A.,
- The Emerging Role of the Sales Technologist, Good, D. J., & Schutlz, R. J. (2005). Southern Business Review, 30(2), 11-19.
- Advertainment: The evolution of product placement as a mass media marketing strategy, Kretchmer, S. B. (2004). Journal of Promotion Management, 10(1-2), 37-54.
- Making functional sales environmentally and economically beneficial through product remanufacturing, Sundin, E., & Bras, B. (2005). Journal of cleaner production, 13(9), 913-925. Pursuing a career in medical sales, Frantz, S. (2004). Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, 3(1), 97.
- The Disruptive Impact of Customer Engagement on the Business-to-Consumer Sales Force, Hochstein, B. W., & Bolander, W. (2018). In Customer Engagement Marketing(pp. 203-218). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
- Sales Force Strategy, Christopher, M., & McDonald, M. (1995). In Marketing (pp. 217-235). Palgrave, London.
- Closing sales in the sales conversation with professional customers (B2B), RAZGOVORU, Z. P. U. P., & B2B, S. P. K.
- The dynamics of marketing ethical products: a cultural perspective, Crane, A. (1997). Journal of Marketing Management, 13(6), 561-577.