Forget ABC selling

Have you heard that when doing sales you should ABC?

Always Be Closing

This is a maxim that many sales people have lived by for their entire careers. Every time you interact with a client try to close them.

First time you meet them, ABC.

Second call after a demo, ABC.

Their dog died, ABC.

If you’re doing one-time sales where you never want to hear from the customer again, then go ahead and use ABC. If you aren’t concerned with building a relationship or securing long-term revenue, then ruin away.

Problems with ABC

The problem with this old school sales mindset is that it really doesn’t factor in proper fit at all. The ABC method would have vacuum cleaner salesmen selling vacuums to people with dirt floors and hairbrushes to bald men. They wouldn’t worry about the sale being logical; just make the sale and let the customer worry about how stupid the purchase was.

ABC sales people often feel less then genuine. Actually, they feel down right slimy.

Years ago I was looking at purchasing a truck from a local Ford dealership. One of the salesman — a 50- to 60-year-old man — talked to me about trucks and started to try and close the sale.

I know enough about car sales to know that a person is way more likely to purchase if they stay on the lot. When someone leaves the lot they are much less likely to make that purchase.

I knew all this then, which was part of the reason I don’t make a purchase of this size without at least 48 hours to think about it.

Unfortunately for this ABC salesman, as I said thanks and started to leave, saying I’d have to talk with my wife about the purchase first, he said:

What — your wife? I wouldn’t have to talk to my wife about it. Just come in and sign the papers, she won’t care.

I immediately asked to talk to the manager or owner and told the owner I’d never be coming back after his salesman made a comment like that. The ABC tactics of that single salesman means I have never gone back to that dealer, even when they’ve had the exact vehicle I wanted, in the proper colour, for a good price. Why would I go to a place that implies a ‘man’ wouldn’t talk to his wife before a purchase?

I went with a different colour from a different dealer rather than go to a place that would pull those ABC tactics just to make a sale.

Not ABC but determine fit

The goals of your interactions with clients is not to ABC, but to determine that you have the right fit for them. You should be spending your time researching their needs and making sure that you can fill the holes they have.

Make sure that you’re the best fit for their organization and the problems that they have.

You still need to close though

Despite ABC being totally outdated, you still need to close a sale. If you never ask for that final commitment to the purchase then you’re never going to pay your bills.

I follow a standard process for my sales which looks like:

  1. Email questions
  2. Phone call to qualify
  3. Project Plan
  4. Estimate/Contract/Sale/Invoice

Once there is a project plan the client agrees to, it’s time to ask for the sale. Everything before that (and even the Project Plan) is about making sure you understand the project and the prospect is a good fit for your services.

Only once you’ve got through all the other steps do you ask for the sale.

photo credit: fallentomato cc