In the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin utters a famous line, “ABC… Always Be Closing.”
It’s memorable and a decades-old mantra in the sales profession, but there’s a problem:
In the long run, it doesn’t work!
Yes, salespeople sold a lot of products and services in previous generations.
But, those sales came at a huge cost – high levels of stress and anxiety for most sales professionals. It also added to a negative reputation for the sales profession.
If you approach sales this way, your career will be stressful. It will also be exhausting, unfulfilling, and, most likely, short-lived.
Always Be Closing puts clients on the defensive, feeling manipulated and untrusting.
I know this because it was the way I sold in the 1980s. I hated every minute of it. I knew there was a better way, but didn’t know how to do it.
After years of trial and error, and fantastic mentors, I found the answer:
A new kind of ABC.
It was the answer I was looking for. It enabled me to become an effective sales professional. I developed deeper, more trusting, and mutually beneficial relationships.
A Positive And More Impactful ABC
What is the more effective ABC?
Always. Be. Curious.
If you want to show people you’re interested in helping them solve their problems, stop “pitching.”
Instead, reconnect with a skill that you were a master of when you were young. It’s an inherent ability that society and adults drum out of you. But it’s still there.
You can demonstrate your curiosity by asking questions.
When you and I were young, we discovered the world around us because we asked questions – lots of them:
“Why is the sky blue?”
“Why is there air?”
“Why doesn’t it drift off into space?”
We dug deeper and deeper and deeper.
The knowledge you have today came because you were persistently inquisitive.
If you want to succeed in sales, you don’t need new skills. You need to re-establish an old habit with a proven track record:
Ask questions. Listen to the answers. Ask follow-up questions. You’ll touch the emotional heart of client’s problems. You’ll also create trusting relationships far beyond those of the “Allows Be Closing” era.
The Limitations of Scripts and Magic Phrases
Another common question I hear from sales professionals is:
“Can you give me a script, or the right words to say to help me persuade people to buy?”
There are no magic words or a supernatural scripts that inspire people to drop their guard, and buy from you.
The idea of having these in your hip pocket feels comforting. They’d give you a feeling of control, certainty, and confidence.
But, scripts typically make you sound robotic. Predetermined phrases often make you sound “salesy.” You’re seen as someone selling a product rather than solving a problem.
Unveiling the Power of Curiosity
Instead of searching for non-existent magical sales words, shift your focus to curiosity. Asking questions and follow-up inquiries enables you to:
Build Trust Faster:
Show interest in clients problems and you establish a deeper connection. They sense your sincere interest and desire to understand them and their challenges.
When they first meet you, prospects don’t share their deepest concerns or problems . They wait until they feel you’re there to help and not to make a quick sale. The more targeted questions you ask, the more they will reveal. This will help you understand their problems. This makes it easier to create and offer tailored solutions.
There’s and irony of eliminating “Always Be Closing.” You’ll close more sales faster if you instead “always be curious.”
Ask the right questions to lead your clients to sell themselves on the value of your product or service. Don’t push them into reluctantly being sold, lead them into voluntarily buying.
Questions: The Superhero Power Of The Successful Salesperson
Another common concern I hear from sales people is that they don’t know what questions to ask.
As with the scripts, there isn’t a set of magical questions that will solve every prospects problem.
Don’t enter conversations with an arsenal of prepackaged questions. You’ll be more effective if you closely listen to what people tell you. Dig three, four, and five levels deep and you’ll encourage clients to tell their story. This will reveal the emotional heart of their concerns.
The Emotional Heart: Understanding Your Clients
To touch the emotional nerve, consider the Five Emotional Cs:
People generally want to feel all five of these. They’re talking with you because they feel a lack in one or more of them
Your questions should aim to reveal how the client wants to feel after solving their problem. For example, don’t ask a question like, “Do you want to increase your ROI?”
That’s an obvious question and feels manipulative, as if you’re trying to set them up for a sale.
Instead, ask, “How would achieving a higher ROI change the way you feel about your business?”
Don’t stop there. Whatever the person answers, follow up with a question like, “What would that do for your business?” or “How would that impact your family?”
Keep digging until you hear emotional words like:
“I’d feel more secure…”
“We’d feel emboldened…”
“We’d be thrilled…”
“We’d stop feeling scared…”
Develop A New Habit
Starting today, make it a habit to ask at least three questions for every concern your client raises. This could be as simple as:
- “Can you help me understand why that’s a problem for you?”
- “What would solving this challenge mean for you and your family?”
- “What does success look like to you? What does it feel like?”
Ask questions like this and you position yourself to become a trusted advisor. You’ll reach the depths of your client’s concerns. This provides you with the insights needed to offer helpful solutions.
Want to eliminate the stress and anxiety of “Always Be Closing?”
Return to your roots — become a kid again and Always.Be.Curious.
Michael Davis works with organizations to elevate leadership, increase sales, and heighten visibility through improved communications.
If you like to talk with him to discover how can help your communication skills, schedule a brief ZOOM call with him: https://calendly.com/speaker017/20-minute-call