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What Are the ABCs of Selling?
In sales, ABC is an acronym for “Always Be Closing,” a motivational mantra/strategy used by sales organizations to push sales teams to use any available sales tactics to complete a deal. The mantra hit the mainstream after it was featured in an iconic scene in the award-winning film Glengarry Glen Ross(1992). This strategy encourages sales reps to prioritize closing the sale throughout every aspect of the selling process: from the “building rapport” stage to completing the deal. Technology and power shifts have forced this mantra to evolve. Customers now have access to more goods and services than ever before, and can find the best available price online. Sales organizations currently employ a mix of the ABCs of selling, consultations, and problem-solving in their sales approach.
What Are the Origins of the Phrase “Always Be Closing”?
“Always be closing” became a famous phrase after the release of Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), an award-winning film starring Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Al Pacino, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, and Kevin Spacey. The film is an adaptation of the 1984 Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name by world-class director and playwright David Mamet. The inspiration for Glengarry Glen Ross came from Mamet’s time at a real estate office in Chicago, where he was a cold-call telemarketer. His colleagues were genius salesmen, crooks, and confidence men, and Mamet used to listen to their phone calls from his cubicle.
Glengarry Glen Ross follows four real estate salesmen who find out that the two lowest-performing team members will be fired by the end of the week. This situation sets up a competitive display of ruthless and deceitful tactics between the characters. In perhaps the most memorable scene, the characters are coached by Alec Baldwin’s character, who admonishes an underperforming salesman in pursuit of coffee. During his “coffee is for closers” speech, Baldwin’s character cites the ABCs of selling.
How to Apply “Always Be Closing” to Your Business
There are many ways to incorporate “Always Be Closing” methods for your business sales, such as:
- Always be prepared. You never know what sale opportunities or ventures may arise throughout your business career. Keep up-to-date business cards in your briefcase and wallet, make sure your website is operational and optimized, and be ready to sell yourself, your company, or your products at any moment.
- Make it urgent. Your customers (potential, new, and existing) need to believe that your product or service is valuable and that they are getting the best price for it. Give potential customers the sense that your company is offering them a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity—a deal so good that they should take it as soon as possible.
- Relay the consequences of missing out. Use FOMO, the fear of missing out, to your selling advantage. In the sales call, tell your customer all of the potential downsides of passing on the deal you are offering. Will skipping out put them behind the most recent trend? Will they be ill-prepared for a meaningful event? Will they be able to find a better deal? Make sure they know what they stand to lose if they don’t take the deal. This tactic creates a “must-have” feeling for your company and its products or services.
- Look for solutions. Be prepared for customers to try and talk themselves out of moving forward with the sale. Your job as a salesperson is to identify ways to assuage a customer’s fears and reassure them that their purchase will be a worthy one. If cost is an issue, discuss your product’s value and offer any potential discounts or payment options.
- Give the customer some space. Tenacity is an important quality to have when practicing the ABCs of selling, but it’s also necessary to give the customer room to think about the options available to them. You want the potential buyer to feel like they are coming to this decision independently without trying to force them into it.
- Know when to cut your losses. While discipline and perseverance are admirable qualities, it’s also important to know when to walk away. If the sales call is running long and your intuition tells you the customer will not commit, wrap up the call. Take notes on what you learned about the experience. Was the customer a part of your target demo? If not, move on to your next call. Was dealing with a personal issue that impacted your ability to sell? If so, you can reach out later. Sometimes it’s more efficient to look for new prospects or ideas, rather than pursuing a bad lead.
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