Salespeople have all likely heard that infamous mantra, “Always be closing.” Featured in the ‘90s movie, Glengary Glenn Ross, it became a motivational hook for many sellers.
“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,” explains Dan Tyre for Hubspot. The emphasis was on selling someone rather than selling a solution and quantity over quality.
If you understand today’s buyers and sales environment, you can see why this mantra is severely outdated.
“Always be closing”: Too outdated to use today
As purchase behaviors shift, today’s buyers no longer have tolerance for high-pressure, numbers-driven salespeople who seem to care only about closing deals. SalesFuel’s research found that buyers want to work with vendors who care about them—not just themselves and meeting quota. Buyers want relationship-driven partners who are credible, empathetic and trustworthy. In short, soft skills trump hard skills in today’s environment.
A new mantra for modern sellers
Tyre recognizes the conflict between “always be closing” and current buyer preferences. He introduces an updated take on the traditional phrase: “Always be helping.” This subtle adjustment shifts the role of the seller to one that is collaborative and consultative.
“Seller-focused selling doesn’t play anymore in either B2B or B2C sales processes,” Tyre writes. “The balance of power has been tipped away from the sales rep and toward the buyer…High-pressure selling has stopped working because it treats customers as interchangeable piles of money.”
Tyre introduces five strategies that can help you easily adopt this mantra and apply it to your sales process. We discuss three of those below, including why each strategy is a better choice than past tactics.
Determine if the prospect has a problem that you can actually solve
The “always be closing” mantra pushed salespeople to close, no matter what. But this new attitude emphasizes the importance of ensuring your solutions align with prospects’ needs. Yes, it can be tough to turn away the potential for new business, but it’s sometimes the best choice.
“Working with bad leads is like throwing money down the toilet,” he explains. “Picking who to help is a significantly better use of your time…spending an equal amount of effort or time on every prospect – no matter how qualified or unqualified they may be – is a surefire way to continually miss the mark.”
Put in the time and effort to thoroughly qualify leads, which includes doing proper research and asking quality questions. If you find that your solutions aren’t a good fit, move on. This ensures that you and the prospect aren’t wasting time. Plus, you’ll impress the prospects with whom you genuinely have a good fit. For nearly 60% of B2B buyers, “Knows their products and how to use them to solve my business problem or achieve my goal” is a top attribute of a seller, according to SalesFuel’s Voice of the Buyer study. Whereas “always be closing” emphasizes the important of closing anyone, “always be helping” focuses on closing only quality leads.
Understand where your prospect is in the decision-making process
Salespeople can best help prospects when they understand what stage they are at in their buying journey. As we’ve discussed before, sellers need to have a grasp of each prospect’s journey. Doing so “helps sales reps be more prepared, confident, and successful,” Sales Hacker’s Colin Campbell explains. “Reps can expect higher quality engagement from their prospects and faster deal cycles.”
This aligns with “always be helping” because you are approaching the lead from a buyer-centric position. As Tyer explain, “When you know where they stand, you can create a personalized sales process that speaks to their exact position. And, when you personalize, you’re championing Always Be Helping by prioritizing the customer and creating an experience based on their needs.”
For tips on how to uncover, understand and appeal to buyers at each stage of their journey, check out these past articles.
Focus on educating
A softer approach than “always be closing,” this new mantra encourages sellers to use education to inspire a sale—not pushy tactics. Today’s sellers should prioritize empowering buyers with knowledge needed to make their purchase decisions. And buyers want vendors to educate them. SalesFuel found over half of buyers say providing “relevant insight and ideas to help my business” is a top attribute they seek in sellers.
You can do this in so many ways, from sharing relevant content to passing along testimonials, case studies and other forms of social proof. Consider using techniques such as storytelling to show exactly how they can apply your solution to fit their needs.
This consultative approach also aligns to buyer preferences and the “always be helping” approach. It shifts the sales process from a purely transaction one to an actual relationship. As I previously wrote, “Trust and credibility play a large role, and the buyer and seller work together to uncover need and decide the best solution for the buyer's ideal reality.” Educating your prospects can help achieve this.
Evolve your mindset and your process
Successful sellers are evolving away from the “always be closing” mindset to one that is more effective with modern buyers. As Tyre summarizes, “The era of the intimidating ‘always be closing’ salesperson is officially over – and that’s a very good thing.”
Using soft skills and establishing credibility and trust will help sellers build relationships with prospects that naturally lead to a sale—no pushiness necessary.
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko
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