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ABCs of Sales
Image credit: lhfgraphics / 123RF Stock Photo

From the time we are little and then far into our adult lives, we hear about ABCs. They mean different things to different people and if you are in sales and business development they ring in your ears and sit on your shoulder day in and day out.

You may recall the movie Glengarry Glen Ross when Alec Baldwin’s character, Blake, shares his sales philosophy with his team, it’s not exactly motivating but it was and is the way it was done.

His version of ABCs was “Alway Be Closing.” Actually, he would have said it more like, “ALWAYS BE CLOSING.”

Guess what? Buyers didn’t like to be sold. It’s time for a new tactic.

Then we had Always Be Checking. Ok, that’s a bit more sophisticated and not as in your face, right? The salesperson is just checking to make sure you are all tracking in the same direction. If you nod yes enough times, it’s hard not to agree that buying is the only option.

This works a bit better, but after a while, the checking in gets annoying and buyers still feel manipulated.

The real problem is that salespeople tend to learn one strategy and some tactics that go with that strategy and they plow through the field without giving much thought to the fact that the people they are talking to have changed. Buyers, regardless of what they are buying, have more information than ever and need the salesperson less than ever to complete a transaction. Hmmm.

Buyers are 70 percent along in their buying decision before they engage a business development person. That’s interesting. Why? They’ve done their homework. Websites, social media, LinkedIn, review sites all provide the insight — often the most real information on that person or organization. And, people tend to believe the endorsements, testimonials and referrals from their network more than all the sales propaganda that’s created.

So, what to do if you are in sales and business development? Consider a new iteration of the ABCs.

 Always Be Curious. Here are some tips:

  •  Ask great questions and then be quiet.
  • Be really quiet.
  • Listen carefully. Is there another next question to ask? If you don’t listen, you can only ask another first-level question that may or may not relate to the answer just provided.
  • Pick up on the nuance of what your prospect is saying (by listening carefully).
  • Pick up on what your prospect is saying, reiterate it and ask a more probing next question.
  • This allows you to check in for understanding and clarity (hmm, that’s the always-be-checking component).
  • Ask great, thoughtful questions not superficial questions that bore people and show you haven’t done any research.
  • Gain trust and share your expertise with a sense of generosity.
  • Ask one more question, “what’s our next step?”
  • Follow up on the next step.

Your curiosity gives a prospect a chance to talk and give you all the intel you need to create value by connecting the dots. In that place, you will always be closing (hmm, that’s the always-be-closing component and the most important part if you hope to make a living).

You will also be more interesting. Who doesn’t want to be considered interesting and smart and thoughtful?

The ABCs of selling are also about realizing that learning our ABCs doesn’t just happen when we are young. It’s about realizing our learning never ends.