The classic Glengarry Glen Ross scene is unforgettable – not only to those who saw the movie, but also to anyone who held a sales position in the 20th century. The ABC (Always Be Closing) sales methodology reigned supreme, and still does in some organizations that have failed to evolve with the times. Thanks to advances in technology, this antiquated methodology has been replaced and the world is a much better place as a result. In this post, I will analyze the evolution of ABC to ABH – “Always Be Helping” – and encourage organizations stuck in the ABC mindset to abandon it immediately.
The sun is finally setting on ABC. It’s a method that worked well before the Internet – back when people didn’t have instant access to a plethora of information regarding any topic. Back then, a sales associate could sell to a much less educated and less connected prospect. Knowing that business decisions have to be made quickly at times, “Always Be Closing” the approach worked well.
Today, there are far too many outlets of information at our fingertips for customers to rely solely on the advice of a salesperson. Business decisions still have to be made quickly, but the sheer volume of information on the Internet has empowered prospects to make more informed decisions, ask better questions and demand more from the sales associates. And as a result of the evolution of social media, people are much more connected. Today, a prospect can contact an industry thought leader or colleague instantly through social media to ask advice on a product prior to purchase. Finally, ABC has been replaced by ABH – Always Be Helping. Instead of a race to close a deal the fastest, sales associates are now competing for who can provide the most consultation and thought leadership prior to the sale.
The practice of consultation, education and value generation prior to the sale – also known as “consultative selling” – fosters a more trustworthy client relationship. A greater level of trust adds “stickiness” to the client relationship, and the ABC salesman doesn’t stand a chance against this type of competition. The technological advances of the Internet have not only empowered the prospect, but also the sales associate. Today, a sales associate can research, write and publish a white paper, guide or other piece of thought leadership in just one weekend. This just wasn’t possible back in the days of ABC.
Ed Gehres, Senior VP of Business Development at Slingshot SEO Inc, has decades of experience in consultative selling. Gehres weighs his experiences on the transition from ABC to ABH:
“The Internet age has greatly amplified the trust factor. ABC was a do-or-die mentality that often lent itself to doing whatever it took – including, to say it nicely, stretching the truth – as well as offering discounts that not only cheapened the product or service being sold, but also signed companies up for long term discounting that had the net effect of hurting the business more than the original sale benefited it. Helping means you become a trusted advisor. No matter what technological advances there may now be, people still buy from people. And you’re always more likely to buy from a person you trust than a person who appears to only be in it for their own personal gain.”
So take advantage and empower yourself as a sales associate to provide better consultation, education, and value than your competition. Use social media to connect with your prospects and push valuable information. Use online publishing resources to create thought leadership material and educate the market. And never forget to always be helping.
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