Always Be Closing vs. Always Be Helping
In the world of sales and marketing, one phrase has echoed through the corridors of businesses for decades: “Always Be Closing” (ABC). It’s a mantra that has inspired sales teams and driven countless deals to completion. But as we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of modern commerce, a new perspective emerges—one that suggests that to close more businesses, you must sell less and help more.
The Origin of "Always Be Closing"
The infamous phrase “Always Be Closing” is deeply ingrained in the sales culture. Made iconic by Alec Baldwin’s character in the film Glengarry Glen Ross, it has served as a rallying cry for salespeople, emphasizing the importance of closing deals as the ultimate goal.
In many ways, the ABC mentality has its merits. It encourages sales professionals to be proactive and persistent. However, it’s not always in alignment with the shifting dynamics of the modern marketplace.
The Changing Landscape of Sales
Buyers are no longer passive participants in the sales process. They dictate the process, actively seeking information about products and services. According to recent research, today’s buyers independently seek out information during the awareness stage, relying on search engines, vendor websites, newsletters, and emails as their primary channels for gathering information. This shift in buyer behavior is significant, with 57% of salespeople acknowledging that buyers are less dependent on sales during the buying process compared to a few years ago.
This change in dynamics prompts a critical question: How can sales professionals adapt to meet the evolving needs of today’s buyers?
The Rise of "Always Be Helping"
To stand out from the competition and succeed in the contemporary marketplace, it’s imperative that sales teams transition from the traditional “Always Be Closing” mindset to a more customer-centric approach: “Always Be Helping.” This shift reflects the importance of becoming a trusted advisor and a valuable resource to prospective clients.
The Pillars of "Always Be Helping"
Hubspot research reveals that buyers have clear expectations of what it means to be helped during the sales process:
Listening to Their Needs: 69% of buyers emphasize that sales reps should actively listen to their needs to create a positive sales experience.
Not Being Pushy: 61% appreciate sales professionals who avoid being overly pushy.
Providing Relevant Information: 61% value receiving information that is pertinent to their needs.
Timely Information: 51% expect timely delivery of the information they require.
Offering a Range of Options: 49% appreciate when sales reps provide options that extend beyond their own business offerings.
Caring About the Project/Business’s Success: 45% are looking for salespeople who genuinely care about the success of their project or business.
Detailing How They Can Help: 37% want sales professionals to explain how they can assist in achieving success.
These buyers’ desires are not unreasonable; they encapsulate the core values that modern sales professionals should uphold. By adhering to these principles, salespeople can achieve the following:
- Demonstrate genuine care for the client’s success.
- Provide reliable insights and information.
- Establish relationships based on trust.
- Contribute to the buyer’s success.
Research shows that 79% of business buyers consider it critical to interact with a salesperson who serves as a trusted advisor rather than merely a sales representative. These buyers want sales professionals who add substantial value to their businesses.
The Quest for Personalized Interactions
In today’s business landscape, buyers seek personalized interactions with the companies they choose to do business with. They expect sales representatives to learn, understand, and anticipate their unique needs. The role of a salesperson has evolved into that of a personal consultant.
Salesforce’s ‘State of Sales’ report reinforces this shift, emphasizing that customer experience is now the top key performance indicator (KPI) that organizations use to measure success. The report highlights several crucial factors that buyers consider when interacting with sales professionals:
- Focus on Helping the Company Achieve Its Needs (83%)
- Availability When Needed (82%)
- Avoid Pushing Unnecessary Products (80%)
- Understanding Company Preferences or Needs (79%)
- Acting as a Trusted Advisor Adding Value (79%)
These insights underscore the changing landscape of buying behavior. Buyers are no longer content with traditional sales approaches; they seek trusted advisors who understand their business goals and provide tailored solutions that lead to success. This transformation is rooted in a philosophy of continuous help and guidance throughout the sales process.
Embracing the "Always Be Helping" Philosophy
As sales professionals, it’s essential to recognize the fundamental shift in buyer expectations. To thrive in this evolving landscape, we must abandon the notion of “always be closing” without understanding that today’s buyers are seeking guidance and assistance. Every day, sales teams should adopt the principle of “always be helping” to be the guiding light that leads prospects toward the solutions that best suit their business needs and goals.
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