When it comes to the ABMs (always be marketing) and ABCs of sales (always be closing), there are many possibilities for this strategy. Like most things in business, there are different approaches to sales. What works best for one company won’t always be the same for the next.
But there are also some universal truths no matter what kind of business you own: As business owners or sales professionals, we all have to generate sales and revenue.
The ABCs of Sales: Always Be Closing
Many companies have instilled the culture to always be closing. They focus on the ABCs of sales above all else. They sometimes push and prod until we agree or get annoyed–we can all think of a time we’ve been on the receiving of this, can’t we?
But many leading companies seem to have the strategic ability to create awareness of the benefits of their products and services and get us excited about wanting the product or service. That needs to come before the close. No matter how good a salesperson, one cannot close a sale unless the client feels they want (or ideally, need) the service or product. Focusing on the close before other important steps overlooks the relationship aspect of the sales process.
Always be closing is a mindset and suggests in sales, one must be persistent. If the sale cannot be closed, it is time to move onto to a new prospect since sales still boils down to a law of averages. Not every customer, or potential customer, is going to make a purchase.
The ABMs of Sales: Always Be Marketing
Always be marketing is something that can set a good business apart from a great business. Marketing does not necessarily mean investing dollars a company may not have; it can include ensuring brand awareness is high with a company’s ideal customer. “Showing up” in all the right places, consistently, is important.
Apple, for example, does this very well. They create products that make us want to buy. When you go to an Apple store, you are likely going with the intent to purchase something. When you arrive, all team members are there to help you and answer any questions you have about a particular product. Products are well presented and the transaction is seamless with portable point of sale devices and paperless billing. The employees are knowledgeable, and customer service levels are consistent.
This is not always the case with many businesses or sales professionals. It’s true that not all companies are in the same position as Apple. But even Apple had to start somewhere! (Read about their incredible business history here). Companies can start small and begin by creating a Strategic Plan with priority areas of focus. Marketing resources can be limited, at the start, with a focus on creating a consistent brand that consumers will appreciate.
Understanding your customer vs. seeking to understand your customer
I can think back to earlier years going through many different sales training programs. How to close a sale was critical, and a lot of focus was given in that area of the sales process.
My philosophy on this has changed a lot over the years.
At X5 Management when we support sales teams through sales coaching or training, it is more about “seeking to understand” what the customer wants and needs, and asking questions to gain more clarity.
It’s about building relationships and trust before earning the right to “close a sale.” There’s a place for the ABCs of sales, but not if the ABMs of sales don’t come first. Building trust takes time and it is important for a customer to see the sincerity, not a salesperson. Building trust requires consistent actions by all members of the sales team, who should share the same message and techniques.
The more you focus on the customer and less on needing to close a sale, the more likely it is that you will gain the customer’s business. It’s not always fast, but it is effective!
Speaking of customers, we cover How to Deliver World-Class Service to Customers in this post
Begin by asking yourself:
- What is our potential customer’s pain point?
- What does our potential customer think they want to be successful?
- And what does our potential customer really need?
Alternatively, ask THEM. Have the dialogue. Make the time. That is when a Discovery Meeting is incredibly helpful to uncover the needs versus wants. Be mindful of the temptation to “over promise”; nothing is ever gained by doing that.
If you can address these above-mentioned areas, you have the best potential to gain a new customer. “ABM” is a constant. The ABCs of sales might work for some, although likely does not lead to many repeat sales. But we must also always be marketing and create awareness of what we do, how we do it, and ideally, why we do what we do.
The right customers will respond to this approach more times than not. When others know why we do what we do, we can align our vision and values and that is when relationship sales really thrive. The relationship is why the prospective customer listens, and learns more about their internal opportunity areas, whether that be culture, skills, service, communication or standards. Or all of these areas.
In the spirit of our always be marketing culture, X5 emphasizes tailored coaching and training to meet the needs of the organization and optimize solutions for sales growth, customer service and communication.
“Enhance your employee’s ongoing performance by turning their soft skills into hard assets for your organization.” – Mike Mack
How can you invest in your people and protect your training budget? Learn more about how your business can access the Canada-Alberta Job Grant here.