Always Be Closing is a common motivational phrase that encourages salespeople to be persistent and focus the bulk of their energy on seeking out new customers and closing deals.
But is it the best sales advice for modern sales people? Not necessarily.
While the close is an essential event within the sales process, there are many events long before the deal is closed that also require time, attention, and effort.
Today’s buyers are inundated with information from every angle and are likely to be sceptical of empty claims that aren’t backed by relevant data. That’s why taking an “Always Be Closing” approach today would likely scare off your customers before you get a chance to close the deal.
To effectively sell, modern salespeople need to follow a totally different mantra: Always Be Helping.
What is Always Be Helping?
Your job, of course, is still to sell. But abandon any strategies that involve force-feeding prospects a product they don’t want and don’t need.
Why Should You Always Be Helping?
Seller-focused selling doesn’t work anymore in sales processes. The balance of power has been tipped away from the sales person towards the buyer. With the availability of information online, and the ability to tap into third-party reviews, buyers are far more knowledgeable than they used to be.
High-pressure selling has stopped working because it treats customers as interchangeable piles of money. But that’s not really true. Prospects’ situations and needs are as diverse as the people themselves, and while one buyer might be successful with your product, your offering may actually hurt another.
So while Always Be Helping is simply the right thing to do, it’s also just better for your business. Selling to poor-fit customers is a stopgap solution that will cause customer turnover, lost income as clawback penalties, and in the most dramatic cases even damage a business if churn gets too high.
More importantly, Always Be Closing tactics also hurt the brand. As soon as your company gains a reputation for having aggressive and selfish salespeople, it’ll be much harder to gain customers in the future — even ones you actually could have helped.
So how do we put Always be Helping into practice?
- Determine if the prospect has a problem you can solve.
If the prospect has a problem completely out of sync with what your company offers or doesn’t need any help for the foreseeable future, get out! They don’t want to talk to you; they don’t need to talk to you, and chances are you don’t want to talk to them.
Because you can’t help everybody, and you shouldn’t be. Working with bad leads is like throwing money down the toilet. Picking who to help is a significantly better use of your time.
- Understand where your prospect is in the decision making process.
The kinds of conversations you engage in with your prospects should vary significantly depending on what point they’re at in the buyer’s journey — whether they’re in the awareness, consideration, or decision stage.
Awareness Stage: Your prospect knows they have a problem they want to solve but hasn’t decided upon a solution or done vendor research. Only around 17% of buyers want to connect with a salesperson during this stage, so marketers control lead nurturing. If you reach out to a prospect in this stage, use an extremely light touch or pass them back to marketing.
Consideration Stage: Your prospect is aware of their problem and is committed to spending time and effort to develop a potential solution. The desire to speak to a salesperson increases during this stage, so it’s crucial to make contact.
Decision Stage: Your prospect has thoroughly researched their problem and potential
solutions. They might not have a specific vendor in mind yet, but if your company’s a big player, they’ve probably at least come across your resources.
To determine where your leads are at in their journey, you can do things like track their interaction history with your business, like if they’ve opened a sales email or viewed your pricing page multiple times.
When you know where they stand, you can use Always Be Helping to create an experience based on their needs.
- Engage with key decision-makers.
Once you’ve determined the prospect is a qualified lead and you know your product is the best fit, you want to engage with key stakeholders, like the gatekeeper, influencer, or decision-makers.
If you find you begin the process not speaking to a final decision maker, you don’t need to be too worried. By engaging with all the appropriate people, you can verify your solution is the right one, and you can better understand the perspectives of those involved in each step of the process, from purchase to adoption.
In addition, the information you’ve gathered in your initial research and later conversations will help you prepare for conversations with the decision-maker so you can present a value proposition that is tailored, educational, and convincing.
- Make it easy for the customer to buy.
Always Be Helping means giving up control of the buying process. It does not, however, mean that salespeople must let prospects drive the bus. Strike a balance between how your prospect wants the process to play out and using your expertise to guide them in the right direction.
Your value in the sales process is that you, unlike your prospect, have successfully sold this product many times before. They don’t know how to get internal buy-in or structure a process that will get them the solution they need.
But you do.
Work with your prospect to understand their decision-making process and the perspectives of all relevant stakeholders, and then use that information to sell your product successfully.
- Focus on educating.
Focus on educating your prospects on the viable solutions to the problem you have previously identified. Once you have built a solid foundation of trust with your buyers, you are in a stronger position to educate them on the viable solutions to their problem (likely your product) meaningfully.
When prospects are in the purchase stage, they’re making a final decision. To help them decide, you can offer incentives like free trials or coupons.
Ultimately, the Always Be Helping salesperson has to establish trust and confidence before they can close the deal. The era of the intimidating “always be closing” salesperson is officially over – and that’s a good thing!
Want to learn more? Then get in touch.
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