If you’ve ever been in a sales role or seen the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, then you should be familiar with the phrase “always be closing” or ABC. While it is a catchy saying and may have worked in the 90s and early 2000s, times have changed and there is a new mantra that has taken over the world of sales. "Always be helping" is the updated mantra and it applies to sales (or any business interaction for that matter). To fully understand the new concept of always be helping, you should know the history of always be closing and where it came from.
The History to Always Be Closing (ABC)
The mantra of "always be closing" originally came from a play written by David Mamet that was made into the infamous 1992 film where Blake (Alec Baldwin), the definition of a cut-throat salesman, was sent to “motivate” the sales team by instilling fear in them.
"Always be closing" is a fear-induced way of selling that is high pressure and only focused on making sales. This way of operating a business is risky because it views clients as objects or dollar signs and results in salespeople feeling threatened with their jobs if they don't close enough deals.
In this day and age, customers were not in control of their buying journey, which made this ABC methodology successful. They relied heavily on businesses and salespeople to educate them on what they needed. It was also a lot more difficult to find information on alternative options.
Fast Forward to Now
The internet in general, a focus on business blogging, and social media have made "always be closing" an outdated and almost dangerous approach. Buyers now dictate the process by doing their research and finding answers online before ever engaging with the sales team. At this point, their research is complete and they will opt to speak with a salesperson, or not. This twist has made it so those who learn to help prospects will close more deals at the end of the day.
What is Always Be Helping?
By now, you understand why always be closing is out and always be helping is in, but what exactly does "always be helping" entail? This is a completely different approach because it is all about building trust from the get-go. You want to become a knowledge base for your prospects.
ABH is all about building a relationship with your prospect or client instead of viewing them as a dollar amount. This is beneficial for both parties because the customer has a trusted expert and the salesperson knows their prospect will come to them when they are ready to pull the trigger and make a deal.
Why Should You Always Be Helping?
Moving to the "always be helping" methodology will positively transform your business. Wondering how you can start implementing ABH into your business structure? Follow the five tactics we've outlined below!
How to Always Be Helping: 5 Tactics
1. Listen to your prospect and identify their problems.
Ask a lot of questions to dig deep and find their pain points or the problems they are experiencing. Without asking worthwhile questions, you are wasting your time and your prospect's time. Remember - this meeting is about discovering if this will be a mutually-beneficial relationship, not about closing the deal.
The goal is to identify that your solution is valuable and something that your prospect can’t live without it. Emphasis on valuable. After all, your #1 goal is to provide value. If after asking questions, you determine that your prospect’s problem would not be solved by your product or service, it's time to move on. Working leads that don't fit within your business offerings is simply throwing away time and money. But don’t leave this potential relationship on a sour note. You never know when your prospect might have a serious need for your solution.
2. Understand where your buyer is in the buyer’s journey.
There are three stages of the buyer's journey and each person you interact with could be at a different stage. The types of questions you ask your prospect will vary depending on where they are in the buyer’s journey.
- Awareness: At this stage, your prospect is aware they have a problem that needs to be solved, but they haven't taken steps to find a solution. At this point, salespeople typically will not engage but will let marketing nurture prospects who are in this stage.
- Consideration: Your prospect is now aware of their problem and is dedicated to finding a potential solution. They are “considering” options, but aren’t 100% committed to buying just yet.
- Decision: Your prospect has done extensive research on all of their options. This is when a member of your sales team should get involved, but remember, always be helping.
By knowing where your prospect is in their buyer’s journey, you’ll be able to provide them with context and content that fits precisely where they are in their journey. If you have a prospect in the nurture stage, they probably aren’t ready for a full-blown demo, but they might be interested in a product sheet. We’ll cover this in more detail next.
3. Focus on delivering information and expertise.
Educating your prospects with informative content before diving into solutions will help move them along in the buyer’s journey. You can deliver information online, on your website, or through email. This could include but is not limited to, sharing free resources like e-books or other content offers that relate to their industry or the problem they are facing.
This is where your deep dive into buyer personas will help you out. When you have a general idea of what your ideal prospect is facing, the solutions they are seeking, and how your company might be able to help, you’ll have a clear path in the content you should be creating. If you’re new to buyer personas, check out this blog.
Pro Tip: When sending an email to a prospect, always include something of value that will educate or help them. A recent study by CSO Insights indicates that successful salespeople spend, at most, 35 percent of their time selling or "closing". The other time is spent helping!
4. Establish trust and confidence with your prospect.
Establishing trust starts with being authentic when communicating with your prospects. Shift your mindset from your customer being an object or a dollar amount to building a mutually-beneficial relationship. They want to be heard and respected, and when they realize they aren’t being pushed into a cookie-cutter sales process, that will immediately build trust. By following the previous steps, you’re already starting to build a relationship with your prospect by being a trusted advisor and understanding their needs.
5. Make always be helping part of your sales and marketing culture.
Adopting a new process always starts from the top. If your leadership team doesn't buy into ABH, your sales and marketing teams will most likely not follow these best practices either. To start the adoption process, include "always be helping" in training materials for new employees. That way, they can start to understand how important it is to help customers in their buying journey. You should also provide employees with the resources and tools they will need to make sure they are properly helping.
Keep in mind, the purpose of ABH isn’t to help your prospect buy your product. Instead, the goal is to help them achieve a certain result or solve a problem. Remember "always be helping" is a mindset and those who learn to help their prospects will close more deals in the end.
Now, it’s time to move away from your "always be closing" ways and examine your business. Do you have valuable resources to send to prospects? Do you have e-books or blogs written that pertain to your prospect’s industry? How about checklists to assist prospects who are in the research and consideration stage?
If you don’t know where to start, ask us! We are always here to help.
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