A Different ABC’s of Selling

Let me set the stage for you.  It’s a small sales bullpen with an all-star cast of characters.  Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, Jack Lemon, Kevin Spacey, and Alec Baldwin.  It’s a stormy night, and you can hear the thunder as Alec Baldwin approaches a blackboard pointing at three simple letters, and what they stand for: “A, B, C; A-always, B-be, C-closing.” Do you remember it? Can you hear it?  

That was over 30 years ago, and yet that saying is just as incorrect now as it was back then.  For the record, that’s not just my opinion; it’s a fact.  Xerox debunked the fallacy of “always be closing” decades ago. Once you ask someone for their business, and get the answer, “no,” your chances of making a sale fall by 26% – even if you have great finesse with objection handling.  Quite frankly, I’ve always been surprised that number is as low as it is. Many customers, perhaps like yourself, mumble to themselves, “I said no, and I’m not letting some salesperson change my mind!” Now this form of A, B, C’s has you battling an objection and a customer’s ego. 

When I recently learned a different version of the A, B, C’s I realized that it made a lot more sense to me.  This particular version stands for, “A-always, B-be, C-connecting.”  Rather than obsessing on how many times we can ask someone to act on our recommendation, it redirects that obsession towards how many people we can actually have that conversation with.  Despite the daunting numbers, you can use all the closes you’d like, but if there’s no one to use them with, you’ll struggle mightily as a salesperson. 

I’ve met hundreds of people in my career who have stopped me and said, “I’ve always wanted to be a professional speaker!  I’ve got a book, and poured in a small fortune to make my materials and website look just right, but I’m struggling.  What am I missing?”  Of course, you can answer that question now.  In the professional speaking world, we have an acronym of our own called, “B.I.T.S.”  That stands for, “Butts In The Seats.”  Once again, you can obsess on the many peripheral things that are often a little more exciting, but if you are not actually connecting with others, and no one shows up at your seminars, it’s a bad seminar.

In sales, we fall into the same trap.  We obsess on all sorts of things, often things that are a little more enjoyable. Things like the clothes we wear, the car we drive, the materials we produce, even licenses and designations.  I’m not saying some of these things should not be on our radar, but I do think many of these types of activities distract us from our most basic job; to connect with others.  In a sense, it creates a unique form of procrastination.  Remember, contrary to popular belief, procrastination does not indicate laziness.  It indicates we are often allotting more time to things that we enjoy doing rather than the things we should be doing. Often, connecting isn’t all that much fun, and it isn’t all that easy either. 

Ask yourself, within all the activities that you plan in a day, a week, or a month, how many of them create a direct link to actually connecting with others?

What clubs or organizations are you a member of?  How disciplined are you at asking for referrals?  How many others who do what you do can you potentially partner with? How engaged are you with LinkedIn and targeting prospects?  How many events that are related to what you do are you attending?

To be clear, there are plenty of other ways to connect with others, but like the short list above, most are not particularly fun.  Just ask yourself this: What is my actual goal in business?  Then follow that question with one more: “What’s more relevant than the new ABC’s… A-always, B-be, C-connecting?

Related: The Art of Aiming Your Probes