In Hollywood’s most famous movie about sales, Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin’s character, Blake, hammers home the “ABCs” to his salespeople. In the middle of his tirade, he tells a burned out, tired-looking group of men, “Always Be Closing!”
The speech Blake gives is the epitome of the empathy-lacking, money-hungry stereotype of a salesperson. He doesn’t care about prospects or their needs. Closing the deal is all Blake is focused on. He’ll say whatever it takes to makes a sale.
Blake didn’t understand what we do today about the sales process. It’s not about what we want. As sales professionals, our purpose is to give people what they want. The thing that benefits them.
Always Be Helping vs. Always Be Closing
In this season of gratitude, we propose focusing on a different mantra – Always Be Helping (ABH).
What’s the difference between ABH and ABC?
ABC means that you’re trying to close the deal from day one. Every interaction is a transaction. Regardless of whether your solution matches the customer’s needs, you were just trying to get the deal done. ABC may have worked in 1985, but it isn’t sustainable in today’s environment.
ABH is about building trust first. It’s the opposite mindset of ABC. In this scenario, you become a trusted resource. This gives you a chance to learn about a prospect’s challenges and goals. If your solution genuinely fits their needs, you can offer it to them in the framework of their priorities. This is far more effective than the old approach of simply trying to close based on your sales pitch.
Of course, your job is still to sell. However, if you don’t understand the customer’s business, how can you provide them with value? That’s the secret sauce!
Getting Started with ABH
If you have some downtime this week, think about what your prospects and customers might be thankful for this year. Are they thankful for their relationship with you? What could you do in the future to make them more thankful for you?
A prospect’s needs are as diverse as the individual person. Deliver a better selling experience by really listening when they’re describing a challenge. Invest the time to understand it and provide a solution that fixes it. Be patient and polite, not overbearing.
Or like we like to say, be sincere and authentic in your interactions.
11 Ways to ABH
This is a great time of year to be a little extra (in a good way). Use some of that secret sales success sauce to make your prospects and customers smile.
To inspire you, we created a list of 11 ways to Always Be Helping:
1. Invest time in learning.
First of all, care enough to read posts like this, to work on your craft, and commit yourself doing everything you can to help your customers.
2. Take good notes.
Take note of your prospects’ interests. Use that information as an excuse to share a related story, connect around current events, or just to show somewhere down the road that you were paying attention. Using technology like Meeting Intelligence makes it easier to reflect back on conversations.
3. Send a handwritten note.
When was the last time you sent a handwritten note? Received one? It may seem “old school,” but how much it would mean to you to receive a handwritten letter in the mail? Thoughtful gestures like these make people feel good and leave lasting impressions.
4. Follow-up on questions quickly.
If a prospect or customer asks a question, always follow up with an answer. If it’s going to take more time, let them know so they don’t think you forgot about them.
5. Use your manners.
Please remember to say please and thank you. Hold the door for others. Be nice to your server. How you treat others is important. People notice. Hopefully, your parents drilled this into you early on.
6. Surprise and delight when you have the opportunity.
Periodically choose a few contacts to surprise or delight. It might be as simple as calling to let them know you remembered their birthday. Maybe you gather your team to record and send a video congratulating a customer on a promotion. As we mentioned above, remembering something unique about the person makes a good impression.
7. Be on time.
Arrive early to meetings, – whether it’s via phone, webcam, or in-person. It shows respect for the person and their time. If you absolutely must reschedule, alert them in advance and make the new time/location convenient for them.
8. Underpromise and overdeliver.
We’re not saying to sandbag. However, it’s easy to be too enthusiastic (especially near a close) and start promising too much, too quickly. It’s better to be realistic and work to exceed the goal than to fall short and feel like you’re breaking a promise.
9. Go the extra mile.
If you can help a customer with something that isn’t revenue generating for you, do it. Maybe it’s as simple as giving advice or providing an intro. Whatever it is, that extra mile shows customers you genuinely want to help them win.
10. Special delivery.
It doesn’t matter if you’re 12 or 35, being the beneficiary of swag elicits a smile. Thank a prospect for a call with branded socks. Show a sales team you appreciate their feedback by having pizzas delivered. It doesn’t have to be something big; just enough to show you appreciate them.
Pro tip: Sendoso makes it simple to do this as a step from within the SalesLoft platform. Click here to see how Uberflip did it.
11. Just say ‘thanks.’
The most ironic suggestion on this list – take the time to tell the people you work with how thankful you are for them. Not to be confused with using your manners (above), saying thanks is about gratitude. Giving thanks has a funny way of delivering 10x returns.
In closing, here’s an example. A wise sales executive recently shared a story about how he used to print out (yeah, like on paper) a list of all his contacts. Line-by-line, he would make notes of actions he could take to add value to each relationship. Ways he could always be helping.
No matter how junior or senior, regardless of their likeliness to buy what he was selling, he did this daily throughout his career. He connected people he thought would hit it off (one pair ultimately married!). He helped several people become close friends by connecting them around a common interest. But most of the time, it was small things like, “Hey, I saw this article and remembered you were reading up on the topic” or, “I had to share this book I just read, there’s a whole section on that thing we were talking about.”
It’s easier than ever to do share connections or information today. Yet how many of us are diligent in thinking about how we can add value to the people on our list? Isn’t that the essence of authentic selling?
Ultimately, the Always Be Helping approach requires establishing a relationship of trust and confidence. The “always be closing” pressure-sale is dead. For that, we can all be thankful.
Who are you thankful for this year? Better yet, what is something you can do to always be helping in this season?
In this season of gratitude, we propose an alternative to the Always Be Closing mantra. Instead, let’s Always Be Helping.
Another way to show you care is to take time to personalize communications. Download our new eBook for ideas to get started.