April 12, 2016

If you have worked in sales for a while, you have probably heard of “ABC:” Always Be Closing. If you have never heard of it, it simply means that the sales process should be focused on closing deals.

This advice is often given to salespeople by managers in the hopes that it will motivate them to close more sales. Some sales managers even write a sales script centered around the “ABC” approach and require their salespeople to use it with every customer.

At first glance, “Always Be Closing” may seem like a sound tactic, and it is true that it was an effective selling method many years ago.

frustrated-salesperson-not-closing-sales

However, in today’s world, it is not the best advice and should not always be followed.

In fact, following it could cause your entire sales team to fail. Read on to learn why and discover the advice you should give your salespeople instead.

 

Why “Always Be Closing” May Actually Be Hurting Your Sales Team

If you tell your salespeople to “Always Be Closing” and provide them with a sales script to stick to for every customer interaction, they will approach those interactions as if they are only concerned with closing a deal. As a result, they will end up pushing a product or service on the customer instead of learning the customer’s needs and figuring out creative ways to meet those needs.

That is a major problem for the following 3 reasons:

 

1. Customers do not like the “hard sell” approach.

Customers are smart and have their guard up from the moment they begin talking to a salesperson so they can avoid being taken advantage of. If they sense that the salesperson they are talking to is reading from a sales script, or merely pushing them to make a purchase without being helpful, there is a good chance that they will end the conversation with the salesperson and avoid buying anything from the company in the future.

 

2. The best salespeople position themselves as helpful consultants.

If you want your salespeople to connect with customers in a way that helps them close more deals, the last thing you should tell them is to “Always Be Closing.”

helpful-salesman-closing-deal

While closing sales in general is a good thing, your salespeople need to focus more on building relationships with customers and positioning themselves as consultants who focus heavily on helping each customer buy something that will benefit him/her.

 

3. Customers have diverse needs.

Think about this:

If you were one the phone with a salesperson, would you be more likely to make a purchase after hearing a general pitch or one that was tailored to fit your specific needs?

Clearly, you would be more likely to buy after hearing a tailored pitch and the customer your salespeople interact with feel the same way. They want to talk to a salesperson who can sell them something that meets their needs and/or helps them overcome a specific problem. That is why you must teach your salespeople to be as helpful as possibly during each interaction with a customer.

Of course, closing sales should still be an important end goal for your salespeople. It just should not be at the forefront of a salesperson’s mind when she is talking to a customer.

 

Better Advice for Your Salespeople

So what advice should you give your salespeople? Here are a few ideas:

1. Be patient.

Your salesperson should take her time to get to know each of her customers and avoid moving conversations along quickly in the hopes of closing a sale faster.

That is because being patient will allow for plenty of time to uncover the customer’s needs and pain points. As a result, the salesperson will be much better equipped to recommend a product or service based on those needs and pain points, which will increase her likelihood of closing the sale.

 

2. Practice active listening.

Too often, salespeople are so focused on talking about what they are selling that they neglect to listen to and empathize with the customer. Then, they end up talking at the customer rather than opening up a genuine conversation that is likely to lead to a sale.

To combat this issue, teach your salespeople how to actively listen. Doing so will allow them to overcome objections and resistance from hesitant customers more easily so they can achieve better sales results overall.

salesperson-learning-art-of-active-listening

Here are the four steps to active listening you should teach your salespeople:

  • Genuinely listen to customers
  • Repeat back what was said
  • Confirm to make sure everything is clear
  • Ask a follow-up question

This approach is effective because it creates a give-and-take conversation, makes the customer feel like the salesperson is listening to and empathizing with him and allows your salesperson to uncover the information he needs to close more sales.

Bonus: Read this blog post for a more in-depth guide to teaching salespeople how to actively listen.

 

3. Meet each customer’s individual needs.

As stated previously, effective selling is all about meeting a customer’s specific needs. When you teach your salespeople how to actively listen, make sure they also know how to use the information they gather to create a tailored pitch for each customer.

That means that a salesperson should avoid using sales scripts word-for-word. She may use a sales script as a resource or guide, but she should never follow one general script exactly for each individual customer. If she does, she will be unable to pitch effectively.

On the other hand, if your salespeople are empowered to pinpoint a customer’s needs and position the product or service they are selling as a way to meet those needs, they will be able to achieve better sales results by making the product or service seem like a no-brainer.

 

4. Avoid overly aggressive sales tactics

There is a reason no one enjoys visiting used car lots – they do not want to be on the receiving end of overly aggressive sales tactics from a stereotypical “used car salesman.”

That is why you must ask yourself:

Do my salespeople come across as aggressive “used car salesmen” or helpful consultants?

They should definitely be perceived as helpful consultants. The customer should see your salesperson as someone who is focused on providing the most value possible.

Ultimately, your salespeople must build trust with a customer before they can close a sale, but relying on the “Always be Closing” approach will hinder them from doing that. That is why you must teach your team better sales methods and provide them with the helpful advice given above is you want to lead them to sales success!