What are ABC Sales: definition, tips, and examples

ABC is an abbreviation for Always Be Closing. It’s a motivational mantra used by salespeople to stimulate aggressive sales. It means constantly looking for new leads, contacting, and trying to close them, at all costs, with all your efforts. The ABC sales strategy demands the salesperson to be insistent and know when to switch to the next lead and avoid losses.

This tactic was popular in the 1980s-90s and is now considered outdated. However, it has left a large footprint on the sands of time. It has served as an inspiration for numerous sales books, movies and as a ground for reinventing sales, moving toward a more empathetic approach.

ABC sales in movies

The origin of the phrase “Always Be Closing” comes from “Glengarry Glen Ross,” the 1992 movie focused on the ruthless, darker side of the sales industry. 

In the film, an aggressive top-level manager of a real estate company is brought in to encourage a group of agents to sell more estate property. Otherwise, they will be fired. In his tirade, the manager accuses the sales reps of being weak and unambitious. He shows off his riches and achievements.

The phrase “Always Be Closing” is written on the blackboard and is repeated several times during the movie. This motivation method backfires as the team runs to extremes and breaks the law to reach their sales goals.

Another great movie focused on ABC sales is ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ (2013), based on the real story of Jordan Belfort, a Wall Street stockbroker. Here’s an excellent example of an aggressive motivational speech in sales delivered by the film’s protagonist:

Even after all these years, Belfort, Martin Scorsese’s inspiration for the film, still believes in the power of ABC sales. However, he admits that the sales process has its stages and must go smoothly from one step to another.

ABC sales
Source: Facebook

Today we know that “closing” doesn’t happen after one call. It happens only as a result of an elaborate process of lead generation, nurturing, follow-up, strategy sessions, which comprise a more significant part of a salesperson’s day.

Change the “Always be Closing” to the “Always be Helping” approach

As you see, a couple of decades ago, sales managers placed a considerable emphasis on the ABC sales technique. As a result, salespeople were perceived as aggressive, pushy, manipulative, and only interested in money.

Thanks to the evolution of the sales industry, this approach has been changing little by little. And today, the old mantra of “Always be closing” is switching to the mantra of “Always be helping.”

What does it mean to “Always Be Helping”?

Logically, it doesn’t mean to stop selling since it is our daily work. It means to stop thinking of the customer as a dollar symbol and to focus on their needs. It also means to stop practicing abusive and manipulative pressure. 

Remember, people don’t like to be sold to, but they do want to make purchases!

This phrase has even more power now since it means that as sellers, we must always be carrying out activities, applying resources and tools to help the potential customer as much as possible. But they should make this decision by themselves. In this way, it will happen logically as part of a natural process of trust, identification of pains points and needs, and their satisfaction through your product.

Why do I need to “Always Be Helping”? Why is “Always Be Closing” no longer valid?

The time has changed. Today’s customers are more informed than before. They usually know the characteristics of the product, sometimes even much better than sales reps.

Besides, the level of competition has reached such a point that product features are now quite similar. Therefore, the client’s purchase decision mainly depends on the harmony of relations established with the seller and the amount of value that the sales rep brings to the prospect.

Besides, with this approach, you have fewer customer losses, fewer product returns, less bad feedback from dissatisfied customers, and fewer legal problems in the most extreme cases. Your company’s reputation goes up, and so does your revenue.

Practical strategies to “Always Be Helping”

Identify if your product can help solve the prospect’s problem

One of the hardest things to understand early in a sales career is that you can’t sell to everyone. In that same line of thought, indeed, you can’t help everyone in the world. There are pain points your product doesn’t solve. There are problems your company won’t be able to solve. Therefore, the faster you identify this situation, the more time you will have to work with qualified prospects.

If you know how to prioritize clients correctly, you will have no problem reaching 110% of your sales goals and much more. Avoid awful customer experience and optimize your most valuable resources (time!), working with the best prospects for your business.

Monitor what stage of the sales funnel your potential customer is in

Before reaching the purchase decision, a prospect goes through different stages:

  • First, they are in an explorative stage: they research products, visit stores and read something about what they want to buy. But they are not yet committed to purchasing.
  • Second, the prospect visits the branches where the product is located more frequently, inquires about financing options, and is interested in minor details such as color, delivery time, or product packaging.
  • In the third stage, the customer is ready to make a purchase decision and simply needs to decide which company or seller to choose.

Salespeople who have abandoned the “Always Be Closing” paradigm and focus on “Always Be Helping” will have different strategies for attracting prospects at each stage. And if you, as a sales rep, know how to present your company on the initial stages of inquiry and how to accompany your prospects to resolve their questions throughout the process, they will surely choose to work with you.

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Bottom line

The conclusion is quite simple. Don’t forget: the journey is as important as the destination, that is, the purchasing process is as important as the purchase itself.

What approach do you use in your sales strategy? Have you ever used the ABC sales technique? 

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